Officials with TAPS Public Transit are looking for ways to reduce the number of cancellations and no shows by riders. The TAPS board of directors voted Monday to grant initial approval to a client behavior policy and approved putting it out for public comment.

“This is a tool for us to address client behavior and a demonstrated pattern of cancellations and no shows,” Transdev Assistant Manager Josh Walker said during Monday’s meeting referring to the action as an efficiency measure.

During September’s board meeting, Transdev staff said about 14 percent of all trips scheduled with TAPS from June through August were either canceled or the client didn’t show up for the trip. Staff said these cancellations and no shows directly contribute to an increase in trips that are denied due to capacity.

In addition to addressing cancellations, the new policy also contains language and policy to address other behavioral issues that may take place on a trip. Many of these include illegal activity.

Under the proposed policy, a late cancellation is defined as a trip that is canceled after 3 p.m. the day before when it is scheduled to occur. If a client has three or more no calls or late cancellations in a 30-day period a review of the situation will be conducted. If fault is determined, a client can be suspended from booking trips for seven days for first offenses within a year and up to 30 days for repeat violations.

If a client wishes to dispute a suspension, Walker said the new policy also addresses a two-step process for riders to appeal a decision. Walker noted that missed trips due to driver or TAPS fault will not be held against the client.

“We are not looking to punish people who are in poor health and have to miss a trip,” Walker said.

As an additional part of the program, Walker said TAPS has already implemented an educational component where riders are alerted to the issue. Walker said letters to clients with a history of missed trips was sent out last month, Since then, missed trips and declined trips due to capacity are both down, he said.

“Based on what we are seeing with our staff interactions we have been getting proactive cooperation,” Walker said.

With the board’s actions on Monday, the proposed agreement will be put out for public comment and a public hearing is scheduled to be held at the next board meeting. Copies of the proposed policy will be available for customers on the company website and posted on all buses.

Public comments regarding the proposed policy can be submitted via phone at 903-357-5899.