May 25, 2000
Mayor Don Wesely
City of Lincoln, Nebraska
555 S 10th Street
Lincoln, NE 68508
Re: StarTran Task Force Recommendation
Dear Mayor Wesely:
The StarTran Task Force, that you appointed in December 1999, has met on a regular basis since January, 2000, and has reached consensus on a number of recommendations which the task force feels would improve the services provided by the StarTran transit system. These recommendations respond to three questions that we asked ourselves and to the concerns that were expressed by those attending the Town Hall Meeting as well as the concerns of those raised by individual task force members:
- Is StarTran providing service to locations where people wish to travel?
- Is StarTran providing the most possible service in the most efficient and effective manner?
- Is StarTran providing service when it is most needed?
The Task Force review of these questions indicate:
- StarTran provides services to 87% of the Lincoln urbanized area. While such a level of "coverage" may be deemed desirable, providing fixed route transit services to areas of low ridership results in significant inefficiencies. System efficiency can be improved by reducing the number of low-patronage routes and reallocating these resources to areas with a higher ridership potential.
- The "radial" route network, which focuses on serving the downtown employment and educational centers, needs to be refocused to better serve the many other employment, educational and commercial areas located throughout Lincoln. The current "radial" route network does not facilitate transit use to those non-downtown locations. An alternate "grid" type network would address this deficiency.
- The demand for parking within and near the Haymarket area continues to increase and could effect the success of that area. Public transit may be a cost-effective means of addressing this issue, by providing service between the various parking facilities in the downtown area and the Haymarket.
- Special transportation services for persons with disabilities are provided at a level which are equal to or exceed the fixed route services. While requests for additional special transportation services are acknowledged, such services must be provided in terms of regulatory and financial constraints, and must be addressed in conjunction with the total transit service provided.
- Transit services provided by StarTran are dependent upon efficiency, and level of funding. Our recommendations for improving StarTran's level of service would be financed by a significant increase in efficiency and a modest increase in funding.
The StarTran Task Force proposes these recommendations for your consideration:
- Improve the StarTran system efficiency.
- An improvement in system efficiency would be accomplished by deleting seven (or 25%) of the most inefficient StarTran routes - Crosstown, Southeast Express, Arnold Heights "Booster", Eastside Express, Northeast Express, Colonial Hills Express and the Southern Heights Express. Deletion of these routes would result in a saving of $489,000 per year.
- Increase the "mass transit" portion of the StarTran budget by 5%.
- Such an increase would result in an additional $252,000 available for the funding of new transit service
- (The total of the above saving and additional funding would result in $741,000 available for new/expanded transit services.)
- Implement a "Modified Grid System" of transit routes, supplemental to the current "radial" route network.
- Such a "modified grid system" could be achieved by the initiation of two additional north-south "shuttle" routes, as follows...
27th Street Shuttle
|This route would operate as described:|
|Operating Times:||6:30a.m. - 7:00p.m., Monday - Saturday|
|Headways:||Weekday, Approximately 30 minutes - peak hours (two vehicles), and 60 minutes - non-peak hours (one vehicle) Saturdays, Approximately 60 minutes (one vehicle)|
|Areas Served:||27th & Superior Area|
27th & Cornhusker Hwy Commercial Area
Commercial Area - 27th & "O"
Bishop Heights Center
Star City Shores
New 27th & Pine Lake Commercial Center
Scott Middle School
This service would respond to requests for direct transit services to the commercial centers at 27th & Cornhusker Hwy and 27th & Superior and the new 27th & Pine Lake commercial center, with access to the Lincoln Center. It would also provide service to Scott Middle School by traversing residential area served by that school prior to/after school. Student ridership is expected to be comparable to the current extended service to Lux Middle School, approximately 200 trips/day. The service would provide opportunity for StarTran patrons to transfer to/from sixteen intersecting routes, with 3- 15 minute peak-hours transfer waiting time on weekdays, reducing the need to travel to Lincoln Center to transfer. Transfers to/from the StarTran routes would continue to be available at normal Lincoln Center Locations.
The #7 Belmont route currently provides transit service on North 27th Street from Cornhusker Hwy to north of Superior (serving both major commercial centers.) Implementation of the 27th Street Shuttle would enable the current #7 Belmont service to be relocated west to access the currently unserved residential area north of Superior Street between 14th and 27th Streets.
Ridership on the 27th Street Shuttle estimated to be 72,880 passenger trips/year.
48/66/70th Street Shuttle
This route would operate as described:
|Operating Times:||6:30a.m. - 7:00p.m., Monday - Saturday|
|Headways:||Weekday, Approximately 45 minutes during peak hours, 70 minutes during non-peak hours. Saturday, Approximately 70 minutes.|
|Areas Served:||48th & Fremont Industrial Area|
University Place Commercial Area
48th & Vine Commercial Area
48th & Van Dorn Commercial Center
College View Commercial Area
Havelock Commercial Area
University Place Commercial Area (Nebraska Wesleyan)
Bethany Commercial Area
Vet's/St Elizabeth Hospitals
70th & "A" Commercial Area
70th & Van Dorn Commercial Area
70th & Pioneer Commercial Area
Provides the opportunity for StarTran patrons to transfer to/from eleven intersecting routes, with 5-15 minute peak hours transfer waiting time on weekdays, eliminating the need to transfer to Lincoln Center.
Responds to requests for service to the commercial area at 70th & Pioneers.
Ridership on the 48/66/70th Street Shuttle estimated to be 72,880 passenger trips/year.
Extended/Expanded Haymarket Service
Extended StarShuttle Service
9:30a.m. - 5:00p.m., Monday-Friday
Extend the StarShuttle route into the Haymarket resulting in an increase in Star Shuttle headway from 12 minutes to 17 minutes (2 buses).
5:00p.m. - Midnight, Weekdays
8:00a.m. - Midnight, Saturdays
20 minute headways on weekdays and Saturdays
Operate an "entertainment shuttle route which accesses the Haymarket, Lied Center, Pershing Auditorium, and the following City of Lincoln downtown parking garages:
- Que Place Garage (11th & "Q")
- Cornhusker Garage (12th & "L")
- University Square Garage (11th & "N")
- Carriage Park Garage (12th & "L")
- Lied Center
- Embassy Suites
- Pershing Auditorium
- Movie Theaters
Ridership on the Haymarket shuttle estimated to be 32,897 passenger trips/year.
In summary, the StarTran Task Force recommendations are comprised of ...
|Implement new/expanded transit routes =||$716,000|
Modified Grid System =
Expanded/Extended Haymarket Service =
|Increase in Efficiency with 5% budget increase =||$741,000|
The implementation of the above recommended new/expanded transit routes coupled with the deletion of the seven least-efficient routes would be expected to increase both the overall systemwide ridership by over 100,000 passenger trips/year and the level of efficiency by approximately 2%, thus fulfilling the goals of the StarTran Task Force. This also modifies the StarTran focus of maximizing "coverage", as previously addressed to instead one of maximizing service to those areas with high ridership potential.
The StarTran Task Force also addressed a number of non-route specific issues, including promotion of StarTran services, maintenance, and special transportation services for persons with disabilities. The following additional recommendations relate to such issues:
- Increase "non-peak" ridership.
- In general, StarTran ridership is lowest during the "non-peak" hours (approximately 9:00a.m. - 2:30p.m.) on weekdays, resulting in lower efficiencies on the services provided during that period. It is recommended, therefore, that StarTran pursue promotional activities to increase "non-peak" ridership (i.e., short-term fare reductions, on-board "give-aways", etc).
- Maximize "contracted" transit services, such as the StarTran/UNL Transportation Program.
- Generally, StarTran transit services are available to the general public, and, as such, are funded by various public funds. Some transit services, however, while legally public, are acknowledged to primarily address the transportation needs of certain entities. The intercampus shuttle and citywide StarTran transit services available to UNL faculty, students and staff for no fare, to which StarTran is directly compensated by UNL, is the best example of such a "contracted" transit services. The Task Force recognizes that "contracted" transit services are a means of increasing ridership by the utilization of private or alternate public funds, and recommends that additional "contracted" transit service opportunities be pursued, particularly with employment, entertainment, and commercial causes.
- Maximize coordination of special transportation services.
- Special transportation services for persons with disabilities are provided by StarTran, in compliance with ADA regulations, utilizing accessible regular transit and the HandiVan, Brokerage, and Taxi Programs. The Madonna Community Medical Transportation System also is a major provider of such services. Together, there services provide over 115,000 trips per year for persons with disabilities. Many other entities operate independently, approximately 100 accessible vans, primarily to clients. Due to the "door-to-door" nature of the services and low numbers of riders per van, special transportation services are very costly, and the independent scheduling of trips results in inefficient/ineffective services. Formal coordination of most current public, semi-public, and private special service operations could either, 1.) Increase the systemwide special transportation services available by 25% for the current systemwide operating costs, or 2.) Reduce the current systemwide operating cost by 25% while retaining the current service levels. Such coordination efforts have, due to lack of cooperation by many providers, been unsuccessful in the past. However, the StarTran Task Force feels that areawide coordination of special transportation services is essential to meet the transportation needs of persons with disabilities in an effective and cost-efficient manner, and recommends that such coordination efforts be revisited.
- Expand StarTran route/schedule information services.
- Effective May 5, 2000, per suggestions of the StarTran Task Force, policies were initiated which result in StarTran route and schedule information being available to those requesting such information by phone on the StarTran "information line" on weekdays, 5:15a.m. - 7:10p.m., and Saturdays, 5:55a.m. - 7:10p.m., which are the StarTran fixed-route service hours. The weekday "evening" HandiVan service (7:00-10:00p.m.) continues to be accessed by the "night van" phone number. The suggested extension of the "information line" availability to all fixed-route service hours was seen as a no-cost, effective, and immediately available means of providing route and service information, and is an alternate to the implementation of the automated schedule voice response system.
The StarTran Task force, while recommending implementation of the above-described route/schedule changes and non-route specific revisions, considered several other issues which were felt to potentially improve StarTran services. While considered, and addressed, these issues are not recommended for implementation at this time.
- Increase Saturdays services.
- Operate all routes separately, with no combined routes, effectively doubling the operating cost of Saturday services.
- Reduce headways by half.
- Operate weekday peak-period services with 15-minute headways, and off-peak services with 30-minute headways, effectively doubling the weekday service hours and the cost of providing weekday services.
- Implement downtown shuttle, per proposal by Councilperson Jon Camp.
- Such downtown shuttle services would afford extended service hours 5:30a.m. - 12:00 midnight, Monday - Saturday, on 5-minute headways, and provide transit access into the Haymarket. The operating cost of such proposed services are considerably higher than any of the above recommend "Extended/Expanded Haymarket Services".
- Include routes and schedules on route signs.
- Such additional signage would afford increased information to current and potential patrons.
- Refurnish/Maintain bus shelters.
- Shelters are currently maintained by a private contractor, with the shelters within and adjacent to the downtown area cleaned daily and outlying shelters cleaned 1-2 times per week. StarTran has also arranged with the Downtown Lincoln Association for supplemental cleaning at the shelters at the two most highly utilized locations.
- Provide additional shelters and benches.
- Benches and shelters are located at many highly-utilized bus stop locations. Benches and shelters are installed at additional locations as warranted and as funds are available.
- Lower/free fares.
- While fare reductions may increase patronage of StarTran services, it is expected that the reduction in total fare revenue would not be offset by the additional patronage. Free fares would result in a reduction of approximately $750,000 in fare revenue.
- Night Service.
- While StarTran previously provided night service on weekdays, low patronage resulted in discontinuance of that service. It was acknowledged that UNL students and faculty would be potential patrons of night weekday service, and that UNL officials are aware of this issue.
The StarTran Task Force, while not recommending implementation of these issues at this time, does not preclude implementation of these, or similar improvements in the future. Implementation of such improvements should be the result of expected achievement of systemwide goals.
On behalf of the members of the StarTran Task Force, I wish to express our appreciation for the high level of expertise displayed by Brian Praeuner, Jan Bolin, Larry Worth and the other StarTran administrative staff and by Kent Morgan, of the City-County Planning Department. They provided clear and accurate information on all aspects of StarTran services, facilitating the discussion and decisions of the members. Their efforts have been truly appreciated.
I also wish to express appreciation for the time and effort of the StarTran Task Force members. Their efforts were invaluable in the development of the Task force recommendations.
|Task Force Members|
|Laura Moore||Beatty Brasch||Bill Lucke|
|Coleen Seng||Rick Krueger||Jean Mann|
|James Main||Kep Harding||Les Helms|
|Ralph Johnson||Alison Stewart||Janet Coleman|
|Lyn Kathlene||Marian Malone||Kent Morgan|
Please advise if I, and other Task Force Members, can be of further assistance to you. It has been our pleasure to have been an integral part of this important effort.
Ralph Johnson, Chairman
StarTran Task Force