Citizens for Improved Transit

As residents of Nebraska's state capital and the site of the flagship campus of the University of Nebraska, you need to be fully informed about the public transit for Lincoln in the future. Citizens for Improved Transit has compiled this little quiz so that you can assess you public transit I.Q. The source information is shown in parentheses after each question. Have fun and learn!

  1. The first public transit system in Lincoln, a horse and wagon used to carry luggage from the train depot to hotels uptown started in: (Nebraska State and Interurban Railways by E. Bryan Phillips)
  2. A national study of cities throughout the United States showed that by reducing daily auto trips congestion measurably lessened and commute times got shorter. The percent of reduced trips needed to cause this improvement was: (Survey, Texas Transportation Institute)
  3. Nelson Nygaard, the consultants who analyzed StarTran during the 2015 estimate that by changing our routes and schedule StarTran ridership will increase by: (Nelson Nygaard presentation to City Council December 14, 2015)
  4. Operational funding for StarTran for the past 6 city budgets has: (Figures from Lincoln City Finance Department)
  5. Comparing the money allocated for the StarTran operating funds to the money allocated to Public Works & Utilities for street repairs (including snow removal) we are spending how many times more for streets that for StarTran: (Figures from City Finance Department)
  6. As a result of underfunding for years StarTran has been forced to: (Comparison of StarTran schedules)
  7. The last two streetcar lines in Lincoln were converted to buses in: (Nebraska Street and Interurban Railways by E. Bryant Phillips)
  8. The cost of new N street bike Super Bikepath is: (Figures from Project Supervisor)
  9. If the money which was spent on the N street bikeway had been spent on StarTran, StarTran would have been able to: (Estimate of $2.5 million from Mike Davis)
  10. Because Mayor Beutler refuses to allocate the funds to StarTran from tax revenues that the system needs to implement fully the recommendations of Nelson Nygaard now, Mike Davis has been directed to find additional Federal money. In pursuit of this StarTran has: (Conversation with Transit Expert at U.S. Department of Transportation Regional Office in Kansas City)
  11. Although StarTran has had to include expanded service to the new South Walmart, Super Target and to the Lincoln Municipal Airport, StarTran currently receives no additional funds from Impact Fee collections, which money currently is going to Parks & Recreations for park facilities and more hiker/biker trails: (Lincoln Journal-Star Article.)
  12. The College View trolley line was funded in great part by the predecessors of Wood Bros. Realty in order to promote home ownership along Sheridan Boulevard and in adjacent areas owned by Frank Woods and Mark W. Woods: (Nebraska Street & Interurban Railways by E. Bryant Phillips)
  13. Portland, Oregon has an excellent public transportation system which includes Light Rail Lines, Vintage Trolley Cars and feeder bus service. This has become possible because of transportation-based zoning that identifies transportation corridors and then groups dense housing close to the corridors with duplex, townhouse and single family zoning tapering away from corridors. Lincoln currently employs transportation-based zoning concepts in making palling decisions: (Conversation with Planning Department)
  14. Constant effective marketing must be done to maintain and increase StarTran ridership because StarTran's riders change by about 20% year: (Lincoln TPD Plan, Draft 2)
  15. Transit riders are beer-drinking, pot-smoking unemployed people living on welfare who ride the buses for entertainment:
  16. Although Nelson Nygaard conservatively estimates a 5% ridership increase as a result of the system revisions, ridership increases of 7-8%, 10% and even 19% have been realized in other cities like Lincoln following service revisions: (Various transit system websites
  17. "Choice riders", people who own cars but would use public transit if convenient won't make the switch unless the new frequency of service is: (2012 StarTran Transit Audit Report)
  18. The City of Lincoln has built and currently owns no fewer than 17 parking facilities with an assessed valued $54.1 million, which pay no real estate taxes: (City of Lincoln Website and Lancaster County Assessor)
  19. Because the city charges less for monthly parking than privately-owned facilities, the city subsidizes those who drive and discourages use of StarTran: (Survey of Parking Facility fees)
  20. During 2015 if you drove a car for transportation the annual cost, depending upon size, type of vehicle and the number of miles drive was: (AAA- Your Cost of Driving)
  21. For every dollar spent on public transit, the local economy enjoys a four dollar ripple effect. (Various)
  22. Compared to 9 other peer cities Lincoln ranks how in terms of span of bus service offered currently: (Lincoln TPD Plan, Draft 2)
  23. The experience nationwide is that an increase in transit fares results in a loss of ridership: (2012 StarTran Audit Report)
  24. Even though StarTran has been chronically underfunded, ridership on the system continues to grow yearly from 2009 to the present with nearly 2.5 million riders in 2015: (Lincoln TPD, Draft 2 - 2014 ridership from StarTran)
  25. Attendance at events at the Lancaster Event Center in 2014 was: (Lancaster Event Center records)
  26. Lincoln Street Cars and later buses would accept payment in either cash or by use of trolley of bus tokens: (Nebraska Street and Interurban Railways by E. Bryant Phillips)
  27. The consultants hired to update the TPD an recommend changes in Lincoln's routes and schedules were told to do so assuming no increase in funding for StarTran. The Preferred Alternative recommended by them is a "cost-contained" plan which does not reflect what Lincoln needs to do to "fix" StarTran. The Phase 1 through 5 upgrades the consultants list are what they would have recommended needed to be done now if they had not been handicapped by the "no additional funding" provision: (Author's conversation with consultants)
  28. Lincoln can be "Globally Competitive" as recommended in the Anjelou Report by having a bus system with scant evening service, no true crosstowns, inadequate frequency on most routes and StarShuttle not running in evenings or weekends. (Various sources)
  29. People who work in job placement in Lincoln say that the single biggest obstacle they have in placing people in jobs in Lincoln is lack of good public transportation. (Telecon with Nebraska Department of Labor))
  30. By giving StarTran more money now, the city will:

If the answers to some of these questions stumped you, you aren't alone! Public transit is not a warm, fuzzy issue that most politicians take time to study.

Thanks for taking the time to do this quiz. I hope it has been enlightening and helpful. A copy is being sent to Mayor Beutler, all the city council members and selected members of the media here in Lincoln. I don't plan to embarrass any of you by asking you your test score.

For those of us, me included, who ride StarTran what you do in the immediate future about StarTran will have a tremendous impact upon us riders and the community as a whole.

Since we can't afford robocars that come and pick people up at their doorstep and take them directly where they want to go, we will have to do the best we can with StarTran. That means more money for StarTran, an improved Preferred Alternative, sufficient funds to market the new system and a well-conceived effort to convince people to park their cars and use public transit instead.

Lincoln is big enough to support a good bus system. We don't have it now. We won't have it if we simiplly adopt the Preferred Alternative without some tweaks and add-ons. Lincoln can afford to do it now. Its simply a matter of priority and I can't think that a multi-million dollar bike trail super highway should be more important than a good bus system. The bike path won't see 2,500,000 trips - StarTran already does!

O.K., O.K., I admit the test was tough, but regardless of your test score, you learned stuff. I hope it doesn't stop here and you continue to tap the vast sources of information about public transit trends available in books, magazines and on the internet. Let your mind wander ahead to the time when Lincoln builds its first Light Rail line down O Street. (By the way, thanks, Mayor Beutler, The N Street bike path is just the right width to lay track and bring Light Rail cars downtown and to Haymarket. Now if you will give me another on P Street for eastbound runs! By the way Light Rail and bicycles share the protected lanes in downtown Portland just fine.)

Please feel free to call me at (402)853-9537 if you dispute any of my answers or just want to exchange ideas. Thinking outside the box will allow StarTran to not only catch up but perhaps even leap out ahead of the pack.

President, Citizens for Improved Transit