Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that 11 StarTran buses fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG) are starting service in Lincoln this week. The new buses replace 17-year-old diesel-fueled vehicles and offer these benefits:
"Putting these buses on the street takes us significantly closer to the community's goal of reducing the use of non-renewable fuels in City vehicles," Beutler said. "Clean, efficient CNG-fueled buses deliver the same number of people to their destinations with 20 percent less tailpipe greenhouse emissions."
The recently-adopted Lincoln Environmental Action Plan includes a goal to reduce non-renewable fuel usage in City fleet operations by 50 percent by 2030. StarTran's fleet includes 80 vehicles. By 2019, half of the fleet will use alternative fuel or propulsion. This includes 37 CNG-fueled vehicles-24 buses, 11 HandiVans and two trolleys-and four electric buses scheduled to begin service in mid-2019.
"More riders are turning to StarTran because of its environmental benefits for our community, and we are moving closer to our goal of a 100 percent environmentally friendly system," Transit Manager Mike Davis said. "These buses promote cleaner air and deliver comfortable passenger seating and a quieter ride."
The need to replace buses was identified in StarTran's Transit Development Plan (TDP), which seeks to grow ridership and increase efficiency through route changes, additional service offerings, and better amenities. About $3.4 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration helped fund the replacement program.
“The partnerships that StarTran has been able to leverage to bring greater safety, reliability and efficiency for its riders and grow is a credit to the agency’s leadership” said Cathy Monroe, FTA Region 7 Planning Director. “As a matter of fact, StarTran was recently recognized for its forward-thinking initiative and commitment to not only applying for but securing competitive funding on the national scale.”
StarTran serves an average of 2.5 million riders annually. Since routes were updated in 2017, ridership has grown about 5 percent over the past 18 months. For more information on StarTran, visit startran.lincoln.ne.gov.