StarTran to add route to Innovation Campus

StarTran will add a bus route to shuttle University of Nebraska-Lincoln students to and from Nebraska Innovation Campus beginning in August 2015.

The NU Board of Regents approved a five-year, $4.1 million agreement for bus service with the city of Lincoln on Friday, including the new route connecting UNL’s City and East campuses with Innovation Campus.

The agreement comes on the heels of the board acquiring $4.5 million in additional lease space at Innovation Campus in February, furthering plans to move the Food Sciences and Technology Department from its home in the Food Industry Complex on East Campus.

Under the terms of the lease, NU added 117,000 square feet to its presence in the public-private research and development center currently under construction. That will potentially allow for additional growth within the department, which has already doubled its enrollment to 78 undergraduate and 62 graduate students in the past seven years.

More than 50 class sections are expected to be scheduled for Innovation Campus in the 2015-16 academic year.

The move to Innovation Campus opens the door for future collaboration between Food Sciences students and ConAgra, the only company to have signed a lease at Innovation Campus to date, department chair Rolando Flores said.

The agreement between UNL and StarTran — a partnership dating to 1994 — will also provide bus service between East Campus and Innovation Campus during the summer months.

UNL will pay all operating, maintenance and administrative costs relative to the new route, which includes a fixed annual cost for five years paid for by general operating funds as well as $7 per semester in added student fees.

This year, students were charged $27 per semester for unlimited rides between campuses on StarTran buses.

During the school year, more than 4,000 students ride the Route 24 and 25 buses between City and East campuses every day.

UNL Student Regent Kevin Knudson said the Committee for Fees Allowance in the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska will debate the proposed fees later this year.

Knudson added he hopes NU administrators will pledge to continue providing half of the funding for the bus system beyond 2016.

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