Mayor Chris Beutler today encouraged the public to honor this year's Luminary Award recipients and ride Lincoln's new Downtown Trolley at the third annual Winter Lights celebration Friday, December 7. The event begins at 6 p.m. when the Mayor and his wife Judy, Luminary Award winners Jim McKee and Linda Hillegass, and Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive at Tower Square, 13th and "P" streets.
After the presentation of the Luminary Award at 6:30 p.m., free trolley rides will be offered until 8:30 p.m. for those interested in viewing the Downtown Lincoln Association (DLA) holiday light displays.
Leadership Lincoln facilitates the selection process for the Luminary award, which honors those who have "displayed consistent and intentional actions that demonstrate Lincoln's values and gone above and beyond in making an impact on Lincoln and its citizens." McKee and Hillegass are longtime owners of Lee Booksellers. McKee also owns The Coinery and maintains a publishing business. As a well-known local historian, McKee writes a weekly column for the Lincoln Journal Star and gives many community presentations. Hillegass gives her time to many nonprofits, including the Lincoln Literacy Council, the Food Bank of Lincoln and Lincoln City Libraries.
The new trolley features vintage-style, cushioned, oak benches, brass molding, leather handgrips and a bell, with all the handicap-accessible amenities and security features of a modern bus. The trolleys are fueled by compressed natural gas (CNG), which cuts tail pipe emissions by 20 percent compared to existing diesel buses.
Two trolleys are scheduled to begin service in mid-December. Rides will be free through February 2019 and just 25 cents after that. Service will be offered weekdays between 6:15 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. The trolleys will run every 15 minutes with special lunch-time service offered every seven minutes between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. More information, including the route, is available at trolley.lincoln.ne.gov or by calling StarTran at 402-476-1234.
Major funding for the trolleys came from a grant from the Federal Transit Administration Ladders of Opportunity Initiative. Black Hills Energy also helped fund the trolleys to promote the use of domestic, efficient and clean CNG in public transit services in Lincoln. The DLA and the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau are assisting with promotional costs.
The Winter Lights event will include refreshments and music from the Northeast High School Chamber Singers and the La Iglesia De La Comunidad Church band. Event partners include the City Parks and Recreation Department, Leadership Lincoln, DLA, the Lincoln Parks Foundation and StarTran.