Intercampus bus routes upgraded


Parking and Transit Services has teamed up with the City of Lincoln to improve bus service around and between City and East campuses.

Doubling up service and cutting wait times to 10 minutes, the new plan features a pair of intercampus routes that circle City Campus in opposite directions and expand transportation opportunities to and from East Campus. A total of eight buses are running the routes - four UNL buses on the "red" counterclockwise route, four StarTran (City of Lincoln) buses on the "blue" clockwise route.

The new bus plan replaces all other UNL routes and includes an on-call van service for transport from perimeter parking areas.

"What this plan does is better connect the two campuses and better integrates the east and west sides of City Campus," said Dan Carpenter, director of Parking and Transit Services. "This new service basically doubles capacity. It gives UNL a true bus service that is more convenient and reliable for faculty, staff and students."

The eight-bus system runs during peak demand periods form 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Between off-peak times, 6 p.m. to midnight, the four UNL buses will run the routes and wait times expand to a maximum of 20 minutes.

New bus route maps and schedules are available online at Bus route users must present an NCard and a UNL/StarTran bus pass. The bus passes are issued at no charge for all faculty and staff who purchased a UNL parking permit. A bus pass can be purchased by employees who do not buy a parking permit. Cost is $10 per month and can be assigned to a payroll reduction plan. The passes are available at the Parking and Transit Services office in the Stadium Parking Garage.

Carpenter said the changes to the UNL bus routes are based on recommendations from a consulting firm. The consultation was sought as a way for UNL to extend the life of its aging bus fleet.

Currently UNL has 16 buses available for campus routes. Carpenter said many of the buses are in need of constant repair due to regular use.

"Right now, we're kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place," said Carpenter. "These are $100,000 buses that were rated for 12 years of use. We're up against that 12-year mark now. We're extending the life of the buses through constant maintenance, but that is becoming cost prohibitive.

"New buses rated for the kind of use we're talking about would cost at least $360,000 each. We just don't have that kind of capital right now."

Carpenter said the new bus route design would eventually lead to an end to a UNL-run bus service on campus.

"We will be phasing out our bus service over the next three to five years, with StarTran taking over the entire route," said Carpenter. "Creating these new routes is the first step toward that plan."

Carpenter said the new routes would continue to revamped as needed - including a decision whether fewer buses are needed during off-peak times. Riders can also expect other improvements, including an online tracking system that shows riders a projected time of arrival at each stop, in the future.

The on-call perimeter route stops include Henzlik Hall, 14th and Avery Parking Garage, Stadium Drive Garage, 10th and New Hampshire Street, 14th and Court Street, Transportation Services, 16th and Court Streets, the Business Services Complex and the 19th and Vine Garage. To access the on-call bus service, call (402) 326-8807.

For more information on the revamped bus service, go to Parking and Transit Services website or call 472-1800.

- Troy Fedderson, University Communications

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