How Paris, Texas Became a ‘Unicorn’ for Rural Transit

A robust coalition of advocates in the town of 25,000 brought together the funding and resources to launch a popular bus service that some residents see as a mobility lifeline—and a social club.

1 minute read

November 30, 2023, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Green Paris Texas city limit sign with population.

Ruth / Adobe Stock

According to an article by Joelle DiPaolo in Texas Monthly, the remote northeast Texas town of Paris offers a model for rural public transit. Since 2016, the town fixed-route bus system has operated once an hour during weekdays, providing over 50,000 rides in its first year. “The service makes Paris something of a unicorn among small cities in rural parts of Texas, where public transportation is often underfunded, leaving carless commuters with few options.”

The system has benefits beyond mobility, DiPaolo adds. “Some elderly people ride the bus daily, not only to get from point A to point B, but also to see their fellow passengers; a man on the bus wearing yellow sunglasses and a cross necklace said that it’s how he socializes.” Passengers say they wish the system could cover more ground and run on weekends.

The Paris Metro is the result of passionate advocacy and sustained funding from a variety of sources committed to supporting the system. “While Paris’s situation is unique and difficult to create, it’s not unreplicable.” Beth Osborne, director of Transportation for America, says that in rural areas, if a vision for transit is there, “it can be easier to inspire change without the bureaucracy of urban areas.”

Tuesday, November 28, 2023 in Texas Monthly

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