Student rides Omnitrans to pursue her dream

Student at the San Bernardino Transit Center


Twenty-one year old Darlene is long-time Omnitrans rider attending her first semester at Valley College, where she studies criminal justice.

“I’d like to be a probation officer for juveniles,” she explains with a smile. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Because they’re young, you have a chance to help them turn their lives around. Growing up, I’ve seen friends go through this. They tell me they basically check in and go on their way. The probation officer is always on them, but there’s no attempt to gain their trust and get them to open up. There’s no heart-to-heart relationship where they can talk to them about whatever’s going on. There are reasons why people are the way they are, why they’re at where they’re at. If you can dig down deep enough to get to that, you have a chance to help them change.”

Darlene has also thought about going into social work because of her own life history.

“I was raised by my grandmother until I was 5, and she couldn’t do it anymore. My aunt and uncle adopted me and took me in. They also adopted several of my cousins. Whenever a family member faced hard times and couldn’t take care of the kids, they would take them in. There were about eight of us all together. We were all cousins, but we became brothers and sisters.  And our aunt and uncle are now our mom and dad. The experience has made such a huge difference in my life, that I think I  might like to help place other children in homes.”

Darlene’s adoptive dad is a construction supervisor for San Bernardino County and a pastor at a local church, and her adoptive mom is a stay-at-home mom. They were very loving parents, but they also held the kids to strict rules.

“They raised us to have goals in life,” Darlene explains. “I see a lot of parents who just let their kids do whatever they want. Our dad was strict. We weren’t allowed to have a phone or date until we were eighteen.

Student at the customer service window at the San Bernardino Transit Center

“It was so strict but it gave us a good foundation and taught us to be responsible. Even with money. When we started working, our parents had us contribute towards rent.  I would pay $50 to my mom and $50 to my dad and $100 into savings.  It taught us how to portion our money and put aside a savings. My sisters and brothers were able to get cars because of their savings. It’s funny because they didn’t even realize how much money they had. They got so used to putting aside money that six months later they were surprised to find that they had actually saved enough to buy a car.

“My dad didn’t allow us to get jobs until we were 18. He believes that you can’t really focus on school and work a job at the same time. At seventeen we were begging him to let us get a job so we could have spending money, but he said no. He said, ‘I‘ll get you whatever you need or really want. But I want you to concentrate on school until you graduate.’ So that’s what we did.”

Darlene says simply, “They raised us to learn everything, so that when we went out on our own we would be prepared to be successful and not struggle.”

She is now 21 and living in San Bernardino with her birth father while she attends community college. As a Valley College student, Darlene takes advantage of the Omnitrans Go Smart program which allows her to ride free with her college ID.

“I chose Valley College because it’s the closest one to me. When I registered, the lady who gave me my ID told me it was a bus pass as well, which makes it pretty convenient to get around. Mostly I’m traveling between home and school, but I also take the Freeway Express to visit my mom and dad in Montclair.  I like it a lot. It’s really fast and only takes about 30 minutes to get there. I used to have to take Route 15 then 16, but this one goes straight through. I like the free Wi-Fi too!”

Darlene adds, “I also love the new San Bernardino Transit Center. It’s so much better than 4th Street, and I can use the bathroom or get a drink of water. I’m here practically all the time. My dad drives, but if I can get a free ride, I might as well. Especially since the stop is so close to my house. I would like to have a car eventually but it’s really expensive. You pay a lot for insurance and upkeep. For now I’m fine with riding the bus.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

Omnitrans buses not in service Thanksgiving Day

Omnitrans buses not running Thanksgiving Day 2015

Omnitrans buses will not be operating on Thursday, November 26th in honor of Thanksgiving. Buses will return to their normal service schedules on Friday, November 27th.

Omnitrans offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 26th and 27th. They will reopen on Monday, November 30th.

Metrolink will operate the following modified schedules for the Thanksgiving Holiday. A Sunday Schedule will be run on the San Bernardino and Antelope Valley Lines only, for Thursday November  26, 2015. There will be no service on the Ventura County, Riverside, 91, Orange County or IEOC lines. Regular service will Resume Friday, November 27.

All of us at here at Omnitrans wish you and your family a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.

Coach operators feed San Bernardino homeless

Omnitrans coach operator Darla Roberts feeds San Bernardino homelessSome families celebrate birthdays with a cake and candles. Omnitrans Coach Operator Darla Roberts celebrates by feeding those less fortunate than herself.

“I guess you could say it’s a family tradition,” she explains. “About 10 years ago, my aunt started feeding the homeless. We would pack up dinners at her house and take them to Skid Row in downtown LA. Four years ago, I ventured out on my own and started feeding the homeless on my birthday on August 22nd. It’s the best gift in the world to be able to share what you have with others. I can’t do much, but if I can make someone smile on my birthday, it makes me smile.

“I started out feeding about 150 people. I still did it on Skid Row, because the need is so great there. They’re only served once a day right now because of lack of funding for programs.”

Omnitrans coach operators feed San Bernardino homeless

When some of the other Omnitrans coach operators found out about Darla’s project, they were inspired to help. With their support, she was soon able to feed as many as 350 people.

“I am so blessed,” Darla says. “Some of the coach operators have been doing this with me since day one. They are always asking what I need, then go out of their way to make it happen. They are such kind, really good people.”

Not only has the group made it possible to feed more people, they were also able to distribute hygiene kits earlier this year in addition to lunch. The packs included a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, a washcloth, a bar of soap and a pair of socks. All the donations came from friends and family. It’s very personal for them.

Recently, Darla’s co-workers wanted to take the project closer to home. They decided to feed the homeless right here in San Bernardino as part of their Thanksgiving holiday.

As Darla’s sister and fellow coach operator Melva Allen points out, it’s especially meaningful to the coach operators. “It’s heart-wrenching for us to see these people every day, whether they are on the street as we drive by or on our buses, trying to get somewhere to eat or sleep. These are people we serve every day, and we all want to help them.”


Darla nods. “I just feel a person’s soul is measured by what they do for someone else–especially the poor, the homeless, the condemned, the incarcerated—all the forgotten people.  And, really, you never know when you might find yourself in a similar situation. Our grandmother used to always say ‘We are always one paycheck away from being on the streets.’”

And along the way there are success stories, like this one that Darla shares.

“Jerome was a homeless man I met on the bus when I first started working here. I saw him transition and turn his life around, getting a job and finding housing. Now he’s paying it forward. He went with us to feed last year in LA. He prayed with people, gave them lunch, and shared his story with them. He inspired a lot of people, and I’ve invited him to join us again this year.”

The group plans to distribute meals on Sunday, November 22nd at 2:00 p.m. They will visit several different locations, rotating approximately every half hour. Their first stop, and the one where they expect to reach the most people, will be at Seccombe Lake. Next they will head to the Norman F. Feldheym Central Library, followed by the park behind the city court house building on 2nd and Sierra. The last stop will right behind the U-Haul on Rialto where a small population of homeless are living.

So far Darla has ten or more Omnitrans coach operators pitching in with preparations. From packing food and putting together hygiene kits at her house to delivering the lunches to people on the street, feeding this many people is a big process.

Omnitrans coach operators deliver Thanksgiving meal to San Bernardino homeless

She tells us their greatest need is for donation items. This year they are serving meal boxes with two pieces of chicken, a scoop of mashed potatoes, a scoop of string beans, a slice of coffee cake, bottled water and—if they can manage it—a juice. They plan to order the chicken, make the mashed potatoes and make the string beans. The coffee cake is being donated by Dion’s Coffee Cake on Century in LA.

“The biggest challenge is not being able to do more,” Darla tells us. “You never feel like you’re doing enough, because you always leave someone out. That’s the hardest part–and only doing it once or twice a year. The need is so great.   I feel lucky to be able to do this with my friends.  Whether it’s my birthday or a Thanksgiving lunch, this is the gift I give myself and I love it.”

If you would like to learn more about what you can do to help feed the homeless, please email Darla at

- Juno Kughler Carlson

Buses running, offices closed Veterans Day

Depositphotos_88657754_originalOn Veterans Day, our country pays tribute to the millions of brave Americans who have served in our armed forces. We owe the many freedoms we often take for granted to their collective sacrifice and dedication. Without them, our nation and world would be an entirely different place. To those who served, we say thank you.

To honor our local veterans, Omnitrans is offering free bus rides to US military vets on Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11.

Veterans may simply show retired military ID when boarding any Omnitrans bus including the sbX rapid line, freeway express and local bus routes, or OmniGo community shuttles. Accepted IDs include those issued by US Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs, and San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs.

In observance of  Veterans Day, Omnitrans offices will be closed on Wednesday, November 11th, but buses will continue to operate as normally scheduled. The Customer Service window at the San Bernardino Transit Center will be open regular hours from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Are you looking for a special way to commemorate the holiday? The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin has published a list of Veterans Day events taking place throughout the Inland Empire. Click here to view.

OmniTrans Vet Fare Bus Wrap - Lamar

Temporary NexTrip outage anticipated

c15Due to planned system maintenance, our NexTrip bus arrival predictions will not be available from 8 pm Tuesday, November 10 through 1 am Thursday, November 12th. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Spark of Love Toy Drive & Stuff-A-Bus Event

santa and buster at the spark of love toy drive 2012Join Buster, Santa, Southland Fire Fighters, and ABC7 in bringing smiles to the faces of hundreds of children this holiday season.

The 23rd Annual Spark of Love Toy Drive “Stuff a Bus” Event will take place on Friday, December 4th between 4:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at Mathis Bros. Furniture at 4105 E. Inland Empire Blvd. in Ontario.

The “Spark of Love” Toy Drive collects new, unwrapped toys and games for underserved children throughout Southern California. All toys collected in San Bernardino County will stay local, and be distributed to kids in surrounding communities.

Community members can participate by bringing a toy to the “Stuff a Bus” event, or they may drop off a toy at any local fire station. Donation bins are also available at the San Bernardino Transit Center and at the Omnitrans administrative office in San Bernardino.

Spark of Love Stuff A Bus Toy Drive 2012

Those wishing to make a monetary donation may do so at  Contributions will go towards buying toys or sports equipment for children.

To learn more, visit or call (818) 863-7220.

Spark of Love stuff a bus toy drive 2013


Frank Flores does whatever it takes for customers


Warranty Coordinator and Employee of the Quarter Frank Flores “dumpster dives” in a scrap metal bin while Materials Supervisor Rick Barone looks on.

Omnitrans Warranty Coordinator Frank Flores loves a challenge. From dumpster diving in scrap metal bins to researching manufacturer warranties, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to turn old metal parts into dollar signs. Thanks to his diligence and dedication, Omnitrans has recovered more than $307,000 in warranty claims in the last fiscal year!

When Frank was promoted from Parts Clerk to Warranty Coordinator three years ago, he was up against some heavy competition for the position. His strong analytic skills and systematic approach to claims and recovery made him stand out as a contender.

“Frank is a problem-solver,” explains Materials Supervisor Rick Barone. “He’s very proactive in finding new and better ways of doing things that benefits everyone. He’s also not afraid to get his hands dirty. I’ve even caught him dumpster diving for parts in the scrap metal bins.”

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Frank Flores

From left to right: Omnitrans Board Chair Sam Spagnolo, Frank Flores, Procurement Director Jennifer Sims, CEO & GM P. Scott Graham

“Thanks,” Frank laughs and adds “I only dumpster dive at work. It’s actually not a hobby. I basically search through the bins to see if I can find anything that might still be covered under a manufacturer’s warranty. The mechanics know when the warranty on a vehicle has expired, but they may not know that a specific component is still warrantied by the manufacturer.”

“He also incredibly organized and keeps impeccable records,” Rick points out. “A lot of guys in his position have extensive knowledge in their heads, but they’re not great at documenting information and communicating it to others. Frank does it all.”

Procurement Director Jennifer Sims agrees. “Frank has brought a level of analytics to the process that Omnitrans has never had before. He provides a very different systematic approach to how we handle claims and recovery.

forklift group

“For example, Frank developed a special tagging system. Now instead of parts just being tossed into a warranty bin, each item is tagged by the mechanic with as much information as they know. This makes it much easier to research where we ordered it from, how long we’ve had it, and if there is any warranty left. Frank’s been very instrumental not only in improving communication between the mechanics and the procurement team, but also in developing tools within SAP that allow us to track that warranty information. This helps automate the process and makes it easier for the mechanics.”

Frank credits his coworkers for making the process work. “It really is a team effort, and I appreciate everything they do. And the mechanics—they’re a great bunch of guys. I wouldn’t be able to do my job without them. They’ll even double-check a part for me to see if it’s still viable and something we can clean up and reuse.”

“When you look at the volume of claims that Frank is recovering,” Sims points out. “It’s more than double what we were able to do in the past. When budgets are tight, he’s actually saving job positions by maximizing our resources.”

frank and rick

“It feels good to know that what you do has that kind of impact,” says Frank. “It makes you want to do all you can. That’s why I don’t have a problem reaching into a dumpster.”

An eight-year veteran with Omnitrans, he tells us he plans to stay with the agency until he retires.

“Prior to working here, I was a manager at Auto Zone. I love helping people, and they appreciate it. You can see it in people’s faces. But I didn’t feel I could run a business the way I wanted to. Here I feel I have more ownership in it.  I am so thankful that I came to Omnitrans. I enjoy what I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I work with great departments and a great staff down here. I never dread coming to work.

“I like the consistency,” he explains. “I’d like to think that if someone came in and worked along beside me that the process would be very clear. For example, one of the things I’ve always said is that if your boss wants something turned in by Tuesday, you turn it in on Monday.  If they want to know what has the highest rate of recovery, I can be that quick in turning in numbers.

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Frank Flores

Employee of the Quarter Frank Flores and his proud family

“I also like the fact that I’m often working with the manufacturers now instead of just going through the vendor. By going direct, I’m able to skip the middle-man and build up direct relationships with the manufacturers. Not only does it help our recovery process, it’s been beneficial to them as well. If a part is consistently having problems, we’re able to demonstrate that to them. That helps them identify the issue and make improvements.”

But what means the most to Frank is the impact his work has on Omnitrans riders.

“I recognize most of the coach numbers when I see them on the street,” he says. “And it feels good to realize that that I have played a part in keeping that vehicle on the road. All of us are working together as a team to make sure those passengers aren’t stranded. That’s the most important thing. That’s why we do what we do.”

 – Juno Kughler Carlson