History of StarTran
Lincoln has had a public transit system since 1883, when Lincoln Street Railway initiated the first horse-car line with a 5 cent fare. In 1926, Lincoln Traction Company began operating with one bus route from downtown to University Place.
A "transit center" was established at 10th and "O" by 1961, which served 8 bus routes.
In 1971, the public transit operations were acquired by the City of Lincoln and renamed LTS, Lincoln Transportation System, utilizing thirty-three new full-sized buses.
In 1989, the bus system was renamed StarTran with new information systems, including a full-color route map and improved schedules.
In 1992, as a result of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), StarTran implemented changes to the regular fixed-route and special transportation services which resulted in all StarTran being accessible to persons with disabilities. StarTran has continued to address the transportation needs of persons with disabilities, including the 2002 purchase of twenty new state-of-the-art low floor accessible buses, and the continued increase in contracted transportation providers for brokerage services. StarTran was one of the first transit systems to be in compliance with the ADA, and continues to do so. All StarTran routes are now wheelchair accessible.
In 1994, StarTran initiated the Alternate Fuels Program, by operating four ethanol-powered and two biodiesel-powered (25% soybean oil) buses. In June 2014, StarTran introduced five new compressed natural gas (CNG) buses to its fleet. CNG offers increased environmental benefits, operates more quietly than diesel, and costs less per gallon than diesel. By the end of 2016, StarTran anticipates having 11 additional CNG buses, 2 CNG rubber-tired trolleys and 11 CNG Handi-Vans, for a total of 29 CNG buses, which will make up over one-third of the fleet.
In 1994, contractual agreements were executed with the University of Nebraska, which initiated the StarTran/UNL Transportation Program. This agreement enabled the use of all StarTran regular route services by UNL faculty, students and staff for no cost, and the operation of the #24-Holdrege route service between downtown and the UNL East Campus, resulting in nearly 500,000 trips per year. This program continues, and is acknowledged to be effective and necessary to meet UNL transportation needs by both UNL and StarTran.
In 1995, several StarTran promotional programs and "special services" were expanded to more effectively increase the visibility of StarTran services. Such programs include the Employee Bus Pass Program, Low Income Bus Pass Program, Passport Saver (discontinued in October 2012), Holiday Light Tours, StarPass - summer youth bus pass, Smart Commute, Historical Tours, Big Red Express, Boo at the Zoo, Stuff the Bus, "Get on Board" senior days, and special event and concert shuttles. As a result of these, and the above community service-related programs, StarTran was awarded the national Community Transit Award in 1995 by the Community Transportation Association of America.
In 2002, StarTran completed a major facility expansion, including enlarging the maintenance and bus storage areas and remodeling/relocating the dispatch and employee areas. This, the first major facility expansion in over twenty years, has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of all StarTran operations.