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Lincoln’s StarTran’s CNG Project Receives $3.4 Million in Grants

Mayor Chris Beutler of Lincoln, Nebraska announced StarTran recently received two grants totaling over $3.4 million that will help StarTran, the City’s transit authority, increase the use of CNG in its fleet. The funds will go toward site acquisition, research and design for a CNG fueling station, and eventually a bus maintenance and storage facility.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded the City $2.6 million, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) awarded the City $825,000 for the project.

“StarTran has a long history of using alternative fuels in its fleet, and this project is another step forward,” said Mayor Beutler. “Using compressed natural gas is saving us about 38 cents per gallon compared to diesel this summer. Air emissions are reduced about 20 percent. And it’s a reliable fuel source that we can produce from our own wastewater operations.”

Last year, the City announced it will process biogas from its wastewater treatment facility into vehicle fuel that can be sold locally or on the national market.

StarTran’s fleet has grown to 80 vehicles to accommodate increased ridership, and the transit service has outgrown its current location. The full project is projected to cost about $40 million, and StarTran is pursuing additional grant funding.

StarTran currently has 13 CNG-fueled buses on the streets, and 11 CNG handivans will be in operation soon. In August, StarTran expects to receive 11 more CNG buses and two CNG trolleys, bringing the total CNG fleet to 37.

Increased use of CNG is one of the action strategies in the Lincoln Environmental Action Plan, which calls for reducing non-renewable fuel usage in City fleet operations by at least 50 percent by 2030. A previous study projected $1.3 million in savings over 15 years by converting buses to CNG fuel.