Nebraska

As the pandemic slows down and the gas prices go up, StarTran ridership getting closer to the pre-pandemic levels

Lincoln, Nebraska – Gas prices in Nebraska are reaching almost record high levels causing a lot of problems for drivers and the increasing trend is not going to slow down anytime soon.

Gas prices are fueled by the recent tensions between Russia and Ukraine at the Ukraine’s border, but also as a result the rising demand as countries are reopening again after the peak of the pandemic.

The declining number of new Covid-19 cases in the Lincoln area and the rising gas prices in the last few months are the two main reasons why riders are slowly starting to once again use StarTran services. As we already reported multiple times, StarTran lost more than half of its riders since the start of the pandemic.

Just like many other businesses in the area, StarTran was hardly hit by the pandemic. The company had problems not only with the low number of people using their services, but also with drivers shortage, one of the biggest issue the country faced since more than a year ago.

While increasing gas prices are real struggle for most Nebraskans, StarTran are happy to see riders back using their services. That said, the company even managed to recover all of their drivers, except 10, from the pre-pandemic levels and they are fully staffed with mechanics.

Currently, StarTran operates per reduced schedule, but they plan to re-activate all routes as per the regular schedule. The officials with the company said that they are already at around 71% of the pre-pandemic levels, but credit the pandemic measures in place in the buses as well as the improving Covid-19 situation in the area for the optimistic expectations.

“We’re an essential service to this community; people rely on us to get to the grocery store, to get to doctors appointments,” assistant transit manager, Carla Cosier said, “That’s just something that we always keep forefront, we have a service to provide and we’re going to make sure we do that.”

Free rides will continue into 2022 in the effort to boost ridership. Cosier said they will continue to evaluate their free rides, and will remain fare free for the remainder of the summer.

StarTran also plans on bringing certain routes back to every thirty minutes this summer, opposed to the recent change of every hour. You can find those routes here.

The officials with the company additionally expect the number of riders to continue to grow in the upcoming period believing that many people will switch to bus rides because of the very expensive gas. The company also added they plan to re-introduce special cards with special fares for young people until the age of 18.

“What it does is talk about different places within the community the buses can take you,” Cosier said, “There will be coupons on there and things like that. Making sure to get those out to the schools and libraries to encourage students and hopefully parents to know about StarTran and the different services we offer.”

Currently, every rider is mandated to wear face mask of face covering when in the buses. This measure will be in place at least until March 18 when the company is expected to re-evaluate the decision depending on the current Covid-19 situation and the number of new Covid-19 cases.

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