A new fleet of cleaner and quieter buses will take to UNL routes at the start of the fall semester.
StarTran, the city-owned public transit system that oversees UNL’s bus routes, announced the addition of five new compressed natural gas buses on June 12. The 30-passenger buses will operate on StarTran routes that serve UNL — Route 24 Holdredge and Route 25 Vine City Campus.
“Over the 15-year lifetime of these vehicles, the City will save about $1.3 million in lower fuel costs and reduced maintenance,” said Mayor Chris Beutler. “At the same time, natural gas produces 25 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel fuel. These vehicles will benefit the entire community and demonstrate the dedication of StarTran to a high-quality, cost-efficient transit system.”
StarTran is the first transit system in Nebraska to utilize compressed natural gas vehicles.
“Innovation and sustainability are important to UNL,” said Dan Carpenter, director of parking and transit services. “It’s exciting to see StarTran, an important campus partner, take this extra step and run green buses on our campus routes.”
The buses were engineered by New Flyer and replace vehicles, which have been in service for more than 12 years. Each bus cost about $484,000 with an additional expense of $35,000 for the compressed natural gas fuel system.
State funding covered the additional fuel system cost on three of the five buses. Black Hills Energy, Lincoln’s natural gas provider, donated $70,000 to pay for the system on the other two buses.
Mike Davis, transit manager for StarTran, said the added cost of the fuel system would pay off in about six years.
The specialized tanks used for the fuel system were manufactured locally by Hexagon Lincoln. Also the five buses are the first to be painted with a new design based on the City of Lincoln’s branding initiative.
The buses will be fueled at a Black Hills Energy station near 64th Street and Cornhusker Highway until StarTran can build a compressed natural gas refueling station.