A McKinney man who has been vocal about the crucial need for bus service has joined with his church to launch a GoFundMe page to help drivers working for the financially struggling TAPS Public Transit.

“The drivers are victims also in this TAPS debacle,” said Justin Mann, who is blind and relies on buses to get to and from work each day. “They’ve given so much back to some folks who really needed the service.”

The Sherman-based transit agency that provides on-demand and fixed bus route service in Collin and six other counties has had difficulty making payroll in recent weeks because of its major financial troubles. The Oct. 26 paychecks for operations staff, which includes drivers and call center workers, were delayed several days. About 10 directors got no paycheck on Oct. 30. Most recently the 151 employees in operations were paid only half of what they were owed from their Nov. 6 paycheck, and that payment was several days late.

On Thursday, TAPS laid off 58 drivers and call center workers associated with its TAPS Access unit that delivered non-emergency medical trips to Medicaid recipients in a 16-county area. The layoffs came as the Texas Health and Human Services Commission canceled its three-year multi-million dollar contract with TAPS after only one year. The commission’s Office of Inspector General has launched an investigation into possible fraud involving the agency and its former executive director, Brad Underwood. Underwood resigned in September.

The TAPS board of directors is scheduled to meet this afternoon in Sherman to talk about the agency’s financial difficulties and reveal major service cuts to match its lowered budget.

Mann has partnered with Pastor Doug Kriz at the nonprofit Grace Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to collect donations to help out the McKinney drivers who are struggling.

The “TAP”ed Out Driver Thanksgiving page set a goal to collect $7,000 – enough to supply each of the estimated 70 drivers in Collin County with $100 gift cards.

“The first and immediate goal is to make sure drivers have their basic needs met,” Mann said.

Kriz said he is hoping to partner with other churches and secular humanist organizations to help with the fundraising.

Kriz said they don’t have the resources to help TAPS make payroll. But the campaign can send a message. “We can do something small to at least demonstrate to them [the drivers] that what they’re doing is of value to us and to our community,” Kriz said.

The donations will be funneled through the nonprofit Grace Christian Church and are tax-deductible. Click here to donate.