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The emergence of the COVID-19 Pandemic affected people, businesses and services like Lincoln’s transit system beginning in March 2020. Lincoln Transportation and Utilities StarTran bus service experienced a dip in ridership that now gives the City an opportunity to evaluate strategies for returning to pre-pandemic ridership levels. In February 2021, ridership was about 60% of levels from a year earlier. With assistance and feedback from Lincoln residents, the StarTran Transit Development Plan (TDP) will examine a variety of efforts for returning to pre-pandemic ridership levels and also recommend other improvements to transit services. The TDP will help the City’s transit system plan for a better future and has several primary goals:
The TDP will be a data driven, community informed process with multiple opportunities for the public to provide input on the study. Specific analyses and public engagement processes include:
Detailed ridership evaluation to understand where and when riders use the existing fixed route and paratransit services in Lincoln.
An analysis of existing transit services to evaluate the strengths of the existing system and opportunities for improvements.
A community survey to better understand how residents and visitors in Lincoln are using transit and the highest priority service improvements for the community.
Transit service alternatives that will evaluate options for improving transit services in Lincoln. A preferred set of improvements will be identified following additional public feedback.
A Financial and Capital Plan for the preferred set of improvements that will identify current and projected sources of revenues and expenses over the planning period.
StarTran completes a comprehensive review of transit services about every five years. This Transit Development Plan (TDP) is part of the transit system’s evaluation process. Improvements and efficiencies were implemented after the 2016 Transit Development Plan was completed. The 2022 TDP will build on the momentum of the 2016 plan. StarTran works to stay active and supportive of the community’s development now and into the future. The TDP will evaluate bus service routes and the increased needs and decreases for service across Lincoln. The TDP analyses traffic patterns to see how current traffic levels in Lincoln impact day-to-day bus service. The Plan will also examine new mobility options like ridesharing (Uber and Lyft), to see how this service may be changing people’s expectations for convenient travel and how the transit system can adapt successfully to these new expectations.
This TDP will set the course for StarTran’s future in a post-COVID era by focusing on building back ridership and attracting new riders regardless of ability or experience with the system.
StarTran is leading this project through a collaboration across other City of Lincoln departments. To support this effort, StarTran hired Nelson\Nygaard, a national transit planning consulting firm, to carry out the technical work alongside the stakeholders and community engagement efforts. Nelson\Nygaard completed StarTran’s 2016 TDP and has done similar projects in many similar types of communities across the country.
While most bus stops will not be affected, StarTran will be evaluating ways to enhance travel throughout the system, as well as ways to improve bus stop accessibility. StarTran has several opportunities for the public to offer input through the development of the 2022 TDP. As a result, some minor changes to bus stop locations may be recommended through this process.
The TDP is anticipated to be complete in early 2022. Some changes could be implemented as early as fall 2022.
Ensuring equitable access to transportation is at the heart of this TDP. Improving bus services is one of the best ways to improve the lives of people who rely on public transportation to meet their needs. Statistics show StarTran riders are more transit dependent (about half of existing riders do not have a vehicle available to them) and low income (about 1/3 have an annual household income less than $21,000) compared to the Lincoln community as a whole.
This TDP is focused on enhancing riders’ quality of life by making bus service easier to understand and more reliable for residents throughout the community. The goal of this plan is to offer members of the community – especially transit-dependent individuals – increased travel choices that will connect riders to their essential needs, more jobs and opportunities across Lincoln.
StarTran needs the help and insights of the community to understand how the transit system’s services can adapt and advance its system. Throughout the study, StarTran will conduct a community survey, an on-board passenger survey, hold public meetings, reach out to community groups, host pop-up events, and increase social media and media awareness of StarTran’s efforts to gather public input throughout the study process.
The public can also send StarTran an email directly, submit a comment on this webpage, or visit the Public Involvement page for upcoming public meetings or events.