From Horse Cars to Sustainable Fleet

StarTran Transit is More Than Just a Bus Ride

Public transportation is a lifeline for many as it connects people to places and possibilities. Transit helps build thriving communities, creates jobs, eases traffic congestion, and promotes a cleaner environment.

You may see a bus pull over to a designated stop. You may see passengers get on and passengers get off. Then the bus moves on to its next stop. This routine continues. But just as the bus moves forward, so does the transit system and its services. What you cannot see is that there is much more technology, communication, and sustainability planning dedicated to this essential service than meets the eye.

Close-up of horse's eye

Horseshoes and Trolleys

Let’s start with a bit of history. When Lincoln’s transit system began back in 1883, it offered a horse-car line with a 5-cent fare and only one route. In 1961, StarTran offered eight routes. Today, the transit system now offers 18 weekday routes, including the downtown trolley, and 14 reduced schedule Saturday routes. StarTran also serves 18 Lincoln public middle and high schools and is a valued transportation system for hundreds of college students across Lincoln.

StarTran trolley-style bus decorated with holiday lights

Providing Service for All

All transit buses are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible and provide lifts and ramps for wheelchairs and those unable to navigate steps. Also available to those who meet eligibility requirements is a door-to-door paratransit service. Another similar service is StarTran’s on-demand, VANLNK, service that will pick up and take any individual wherever they would like to go for $5 each way.

Illustration of different types of people at a bus stop

Regular bus route service is available for all residents and visitors who need transportation to get to and from work, school, medical appointments, food, entertainment and more within Lincoln city limits.

StarTran wants to remind riders that city bus service is not like the school bus system. Traffic does not stop for city buses, so when exiting the bus, patrons should always stay on the curb, look for traffic in all directions and cross when it is safe. Never cross in front of the bus.

Bikes are Welcome Too

You can also take your bike along on your commute, as each bus can hold two bikes. Bike and Bus is a great option for those who like to include exercise into their daily schedule. Some people bike to a designated stop, some bike around downtown or University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) campuses, and some bike to or from their final destination. Whatever your need is, we are here to help.

StarTran patrons loading bikes into the bike rack

An Industry Leader in Fuels

StarTran is focused on providing sustainable transit service and continues to promote the utilization of clean alternate fuels. These alternate fuels have included:

  • Ethanol – 95% ethanol and 5% gasoline
  • Biodiesel – 75% diesel, 25% soybean oil
  • Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) – a new on-site CNG fueling station will be completed by December 2022
  • Electric

StarTran electric bus

But wait, there is more! We are developing and processing another alternate, but renewable fuel source for StarTran to use that we can all take credit for. Smiley face emoji Renewable natural gas (RNG). RNG is captured from sources like wastewater treatment plants, landfills and cow manure which is then converted into a natural gas. Once these organic solids are treated, they are piped into a distribution system and used in a variety of ways to increase Lincoln’s sustainability. We humans will always be able to supply a plentiful waste supply. Poop emoji The good news is what a great sustainability resource! So, continue doing your part toward this future fuel source for our transit fleet and keep flushing.

Services to Help Ease Your Pocketbook and Traffic Congestion

StarTran provides many extra services and programs like:

*The City of Lincoln is not collecting fares at this time.

StarTran “Big Red Express” shuttle bus for UNL football game Boarding football fans on the Big Red Express to take them to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Huskers football home game.

Funding is a Competitive Process

To continue providing and improving Lincoln’s essential services, Lincoln’s transit system is researching the development of a new Multimodal Transit Center which will offer additional conveniences and amenities for patrons. StarTran is currently seeking grant funding for this effort.

Concept rendering of potential multimodal transit center building Multimodal transit center design

StarTran’s first major facility expansion was in 2002. That expansion added more maintenance and bus storage areas. Now, more than 20 years later, growth and new technological advances call for the need of a new multimodal transit center. StarTran must compete with all transit systems to secure funds. This is another great reason to support transit and get on board!

Safe Mode of Travel

The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) states that traveling by public transportation is 10 times safer per mile than traveling by automobile. APTA also estimates a household can save nearly $10,000 by utilizing public transportation and living with one less car. The average household spends 16 cents of every dollar on transportation with 93 percent of that dedicated to purchasing, maintaining, and operating cars; the largest expenditure after housing. All the advantages and savings public transportation offers shows the benefits of utilizing this service more.

StarTran riders sitting in seats on the bus A group of people on a StarTran bus

StarTran teammates work hard to provide a safe and efficient transit system.

  • Staff attend multiple safety meetings each year
  • Safety is their number one priority
  • A Safety and Training Specialist ensures safety protocol is followed
  • Bus operators have a bus driver simulator for real-time driving experience
  • Other training is available, such as first aid, AED, bloodborne pathogens, and substance abuse

StarTran is Family

Bus operators have always been the eyes and ears for Lincoln as they drive more than two million miles around town every year. Many have received the Mayor’s Award of Excellence for performing emergency safety measures, providing safe refuge, or aiding our community members.

With bus operators providing 69,000 passenger trips weekly (2019 stats), many bus patrons and bus operators have become friends. They watch out for each other, feel like family, share stories, and even holiday treats.

StarTran bus operators at a picnic table during a football game tailgate event Bus operators attend the StarTran 2021 football game tailgate.

Some riders utilize special services. Some may have automobiles but still choose to ride. Some do not have a vehicle and like saving money that would otherwise be spent on car insurance, repairs, and fuel. Many like the comfort, camaraderie, and safety of riding the bus without wondering where they will park, traffic delays, bad weather, or potential and unexpected detours. Many residents depend on StarTran’s service like others do their automobiles.

We consider bus operators to be unsung heroes as they provide crucial services and increase Lincoln’s quality of life to many of our neighbors, friends, and relatives!

StarTran buses through the years

Bring It In

If you would like to join this great team, change your career path, and add more family and friends to your circle, you can apply at For information on routes, schedules, and services, visit