Leadership program encourages employee innovation

Six of our employees graduated from the Omnitrans Leadership Action Program (LAP) this month. During the 6-month program, each participant worked on a project of their choosing with the potential to improve a process or generate significant savings for Omnitrans. The participants thoroughly research their projects and present their findings to the executive leadership team for possible implementation. This year, the combined projects have the potential to save the agency more than $2 million per year!

Ross Hrinko: Benefits of Preventative Health & Wellness Programs
Encouraging participation in the agency’s Wellness Program, soliciting employee feedback and enhancing communication on preventative health are a few areas Ross targets as potential areas of refinement.  The introduction of “Company Nurse” services could assist employees with health issues, by making referrals or suggesting alternative treatment. This would cut back on costly and unnecessary doctor visits, while still providing valuable information and support to the patient.

Louise Acosta – Liquid Natural Gas Delivery vs. Pipeline Natural Gas
For her project, Louise investigated the pros and cons of switching from liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel delivery to pipeline natural gas. Omnitrans currently pays for the delivery of LNG fuel from a third party vendor. Natural pipeline gas would cost substantially less than LNG, but initially would require new equipment to compress the gas for our buses.

Joseph Tibita – Reorganizing Mobile Offices for Cost Reduction
Joseph’s goal was to redesign the equipment placement and storage  in our 15 Field Supervisor mobile offices for practical use and savings. By improving the positioning and layout of user interfaces and streamlining the wiring of data and power cables with a docking station, his plan eliminates the problem of lost time due to displaced equipment and slow system access, and prevents safety hazards.

Christina Diaz – Coach Simulator Acquisition & Training
Christina’s proposal to acquire a coach simulator for operator training was recently actualized. By partnering with Cal State San Bernardino in exchange for data generated by the simulator, Omnitrans was able to obtain the $70,000 simulator for free. Coaches are needed for many types of training, but pulling a coach from revenue service costs the agency approximately $90 per hour. As an added benefit, the simulator can safely mimic challenging and hazardous scenarios not easily duplicated on the road. This allows coach operators to improve their reaction times, behavioral driving, judgmental and perceptual skills. The simulator has also been successfully implemented by the Omnitrans workforce development program to introduce the public to regional coach operator careers.

Caroljo Mitcham –  CNG Conversion & Off-site Fueling of Access Fleet
Caroljo focused on the savings generated by transitioning our current Access paratransit fleet from unleaded gasoline to CNG fuel. By obtaining CNG fuel from an offsite service station, current regulatory compliance fees and tank maintenance would be eliminated and costs would be reduced.

 

Carolann Williams – Rostering Versus Cafeteria Run Bid Process
With the current cafeteria style run  bid, coach operators select and bid on the routes, shifts and days off they want. It is a lengthy process and, depending on how these are combined, can result in split days off for the coach operator. 
With rostering, off days are built into the work assignment, which  reduces the number of days the bid process takes, gives coach operators more varied work assignments to choose from, and minimizes the number of split days off.

Get a $5 food truck coupon from sbX!

Exclusive offer only for sbX riders this Thursday:

Get a $5.00 coupon towards lunch at your favorite food truck during the Third Thursday Food Fest on February 19th!

  • Coupons will be given ONLY to sbX riders disembarking at the sbX Civic Center Station between 11:00- 1:30 on Thursday, February 19th.
  • One coupon allowed per person. A limited quantity of coupons is available.
  • The coupon is redeemable only for that day during the Third Thursdays Food Fest.

Enjoy food truck deliciousness from vendors like:

  • MochaLotive Express – coffee, sandwiches, nachos and more
  • Street Foods Co. – tacos, burritos, salads and more
  • Crepes Bonaparte – gourmet crepes
  • Bacon Mania – all things bacon
  • The Grilled Cheese Truck – sandwiches, mac & cheese
  • Piaggio on Wheels – Argentine cuisine
  • The Greasy Weiner – dogs & brats
  • My Delight Truck – cupcakes

Third Thursdays Food Fest
11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.   San Bernardino City Hall
Court Street Square (next to the sbX Civic Center Station)
Check out the SB third Thursdays Food Fest on Facebook!

Thanks for riding sbX. We’ll see you Thursday!

Funny Valentines: Deb & Terry Molloy

Debbie and Terry Molloy first met 19 years ago when they were both working for Omnitrans as coach operators. You might say it was love at first sight.

“I was driving the route 14 my first day when Terry relieved me in front of the yard,” Debbie recalls. “Because I was brand new, I was all nervous and didn’t pay any attention to him. I just wanted off that bus! The second day when he climbed aboard, he asked ‘Are you doing this every day at this time?’ I remember thinking oh my goodness what a voice! Then I looked up and saw his face and that was it. He was so nice and very good-looking. The following week, we kept running into each other at lunch time. There were about five of us that used to meet for lunch every day. Then, before we knew it, it dwindled down to just the two of us.”

Terry nods. “We just clicked, you know?”

Debbie smiles. “Anyway, we went out to lunch together for about a year, and we found out we had a lot of things in common. We got to know each other pretty well. He was just a very gentle, soft-spoken person. I saw that he was kind-hearted and very giving. I liked that.”

“It started off as a good friendship for us,” agreed Terry. “As I got to know her, I could see she was real—there was nothing fake about her. And I noticed that she was a very good parent to her kids. That sort of clued me in as to who she was.”  He shrugs. “She also laughed at my jokes.”

“Some of them I laughed at because I thought I’d BETTER laugh.” points out Debbie.

“Uh huh. She chased me for months,” Terry teases. “Finally I just said okay. I’m yours.”

“I did pursue him,” Debbie confesses. “It took him a long time to ask me out on a date, so I finally invited him to come over to my place for dinner.”

Terry laughs. “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach right?” He leans back in his chair and adds more seriously. “Nah. She was fun. She enjoyed the same things that I did. We were best friends, got to know each other, and it just blossomed from there.

Debbie arches a brow at her husband. “But I didn’t know quite everything. I didn’t realize that he had had a fiance until I was moving in with him and cleaning out the cupboards.”

Terry knows what’s coming. He looks sheepishly at his wife, who has a mischievous sparkle in her eye. They both start to laugh.

“Terry kept the old engagement ring in his sock drawer, and I found it when I was putting laundry away. Anyway, about a week later he says ‘So what are you doing for lunch tomorrow?’”

“I just looked at him and pointed out that we usually go out for lunch together. He said ‘No, I think we’ll go look for a ring for you.’ And I said oh really? The next thing I know, he’s bringing me over the ex’s ring to try on and asking if I like it.”

Terry groans, “I had no idea she knew about it.”

Deb continues gleefully. “I put on the ring, looked and it on my hand and told him no, actually I don’t like it. We ended up taking that ring back to Zales, and I got to pick out a ring that I wanted. But he never asked me to marry him. He just said ‘What are you doing for lunch tomorrow?’”

“And you never said yes,” Terry grins.

“So here we are,” says Debbie. “We were so close and so connected. And all three of my kids love him. They just adore him.

“It was the same with my two kids,” adds Terry. “They just blended and are all close. It worked out well. But it was tough sometimes when they were younger because we wanted to be fair and treat them all the same.”

Debbie nods. “Like on Saturdays I would say okay before you watch cartoons go in the bedroom and make your beds. They’d all look at me like really? You’re not my mom. Stuff like that. And Terry would say don’t worry, Deb, they’ll all be grown up before you know it. And it happened just like that.” She snaps her fingers.

Her husband leans back in his chair. “It was like overnight they were all gone. Now with the new grandbaby, we can do it all over again.

Debbie’s face lights up at the thought of the new addition to their family. “Madison is beautiful. I really like that we get to help raise her together as grandparents. Did you know we’ll be married 18 years in October? And we’re comfortable together. We love to travel now that the kids are gone. A lot of nights we just stay in, snuggle and watch TV.”

“ Communication is really the key. And we never take work home,” says Terry seriously. “If we have anything to say about work, we talk about it here or in the car before we get home. We keep it separate.”

Today, Debbie is an sbX coach operator, and Terry is a Fleet Safety and Training Instructor.

“We like working at Omnitrans,” Deb says frankly. “I don’t think I would want to be in an office with him. But because he’s here and I’m on the road, we do fine. When we do our ATCR classes I look forward to having him as an instructor. I get to see the way everyone reacts to him. People really like him as a trainer. He keeps it fun. It makes me proud to be in there when he’s doing his job.”

“You have to be that way,” Terry explains. “Some people go in there, and they’re straight by the book. That’s just not who I am. You have to bring a little bit of something in with it. You get to know each other better that way.”

I ask what their plans are for Valentine’s Day.

“We’re going to San Diego to get our taxes done,” Terry says promptly

The two look at each other and burst out laughing.

“Our tax man called us and said he had one open appointment but that we wouldn’t want it because it was on Valentine’s Day,” Debbie explains. “Terry said no we want it.”

“We’ll get there early and spend the day and maybe go out for dinner or something afterwards,” he adds.

Debbie smiles. “We’re looking forward to it.”

 - Juno Kughler Carlson
   juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

Buses running, offices closed Feb. 16th

Omnitrans buses will be operating on their normal schedules on Presidents Day, Monday, February 16th.

Our administrative offices will be closed for the holiday, but will re-open on Tuesday, February 17th. 

 

Employee of the Quarter: Lourdes Sandoval

When things are running smoothly, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are people behind the scenes making that happen. Our Employee of the Quarter, HR Clerk Lourdes Sandoval (Mimi to her friends), is one of those people.  

“Mimi has gone far above and beyond the requirements of her job duties to assist the workforce development team,” says Committee chair Dr. Samuel Gibbs. “She has been on point to deal with vendors, to track expenses and to coordinate with classes as needed. We are doing some of these activities for the first time, yet she approaches each one with a positive, pleasant, can-do attitude. I am deeply appreciative of everything she has done for us and am happy to see her recognized in this way.”

Employee Relations Manager Ray Maldonado agrees. “In her position, Mimi has to handle both internal and external customer service issues. She genuinely cares about people and it shows. She’s also great with research and problem-solving. If she doesn’t know how to do something, she’ll go on the Internet and teach herself. She’s a very quick learner, always looks for cross-training opportunities, and enjoys taking on new challenges. She’s my go-to person whenever I need help.“

Employee Relations Manager Ray Maldonado, Lourdes Sandoval, and Director of HR and Safety & Regulatory Compliance Marjorie Ewing

Before she came to Omnitrans, Mimi was the HR person for Armstrong Garden Centers, a retail garden center headquartered in Glendora. She did everything from handling HR issues to training new hires.

“I did a little of everything,” Mimi explains. “I even had to help with drug screening. I used to have to cut people’s hair to send to the lab for drug testing. So I guess you could even say I was a bit of a beautician or hairstylist. Coming to Omnitrans was very different—it’s much more structured.”

“A lot of my job here in HR centers on customer service. Our employees are our customers, and we want to keep them happy. Sometimes the public comes in asking about what positions are open. And there is always tons of filing to be done. Everything is documented. Personnel folders can be two or three inches thick—especially for the long-timers who have been here for 20 or 30 years!”

Mimi herself has been with Omnitrans now for 8 years. She says the biggest change she’s seen is in the way open job positions are posted. When she first started, people used to have to call a hotline to get information on jobs. Now almost everything is done through the website. Mimi likes that the agency still sends out actual letters when people are invited to test or to come in for an interview. She feels it gives more of a personal touch.

Mimi is always looking for opportunities to learn new things and build her skill set. When our administrative secretary retired, she stepped up to fill in for her until a replacement was hired.

“That was probably the biggest challenge I faced this year, and I learned a lot,” says Mimi. “Of course I had the best of the best up there training me. Vicki [our assistant to the GM/CEO] is an amazing woman. She does it all, she’s seen it all, and she’s got a lot of history here. You can ask her for something that was discussed in a Board meeting years ago, and she’ll know exactly where it is and be able to pull the file.”

Mimi would like to continue in the HR field and go back to school for a Business degree. “Up until now my focus has all been on being a mom and working. Now that my kids are grown, I’m actually looking forward to finding out who I am. There’s a whole world out there I never got to experience. I’m excited about that. There is so much to explore.”

She grins. “I know a lot of car stuff and can talk about carburetors and engines. Right now I really want a Challenger because I want to go fast. My first car when I was 16 —I was very spoiled—was a red Camaro. Unfortunately it died.

I made the mistake of letting someone else drive my car—stupidest mistake in my life.  He decided to see how close he could drive to the side of the road without going over the edge. We ended up sliding down a hundred foot drop to the bottom of a canyon in San Dimas.

We barely managed to get out and climb our way back to the road before it caught fire. We just sort of had to stand there and watch it burn. I remember crying because I had so many cassettes in that car. All my music was gone! I came home and my parents asked me where the car was. And in a very small voice I told them it was in the bottom of the canyon. The very next day we had to go to the tow yard and my dad grabbed the key. I told him, “Ummm. Yeah. You’re not going to need that key.” The whole thing had burnt to a crisp.” She laughs ruefully. “Music and fast cars. I’m like a dude!”

She jokes that the daredevil gene must run in her family. Her son Dominic was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was a year old, and later had to rely on a wheelchair to get around. One day she got a call from his middle school, saying that Dominic had been in an accident. They explained he had cranked up the power on his chair on the playground, took a curve too fast and ended up tumbling down a hill. Mimi smiles, remembering. “After that, he was forbidden to take the wheelchair any faster than 5.”

Mimi had been with Omnitrans less than a year when Dominic died shortly before his 16th birthday.

“I had incredible support from everyone. I had only worked here a few months before he got sick, yet they told me to go take care of my son. I was surprised because I never experienced anything like that in the private sector. Paying for sick days? That would never happen.” She shakes her head.

“It was hard. I never expected Dominic to leave so soon. I couldn’t believe how many donations came in. People pulled together and basically paid for my son’s service. It was all done behind the scenes. I didn’t know that anyone knew. It meant a lot to me.”

“That’s really what I love best about working here I think. It’s the people. They have a lot of heart. Once you’re here, you’re family.”

- Juno Kughler Carlson
  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

Employee of the Year: Don Frazier

On February 4th, Fleet Safety and Training Supervisor Don Frazier was named Omnitrans Employee of the Year for his dedication and invaluable contributions to success of the agency.

Don was critical to the successful launch of our sbX rapid transit service. He personally developed an in-depth, hands-on training program for our sbX coach operators to ensure they had the skills necessary to safely and efficiently run the route. He also tested vehicle features and helped identify potential problems along the corridor. Thanks to his excellent program and the hard work of his training team, our coach operators were well prepared for the April launch.

The latest Omnitrans training tool: the virtual coach simulator

His commitment to innovation has led our training program to new heights, most recently with the introduction of a virtual coach simulator. It is used as a defensive driving tool to give coach operators the opportunity to face challenging crisis scenarios not easily duplicated in their actual road training. Don constantly looks for new tools and training programs that he can implement with little cost to the agency.

However, to see where Don truly shines, you simply need to talk to the members of his team who nominated him for the Employee of the Year Award.

Don Frazier with trainers Charles Molloy, Stephen McClure, and Christina Diaz

“He is very fair and he watches out for his crew,” says Instructor Charles Molloy frankly. “He takes care of us and wants the best of everything for us. As far as tools or training materials—anything we need—he goes to bat for us.  And it’s because he’s come up through the ranks and knows what we’re facing. I’ve been here going on 21 years and have seen a lot of people in that position, and he’s the best by far. He’s worked hard to bring in innovative training tools like the new coach simulator. Since he became supervisor, this department has risen to a whole new level.”

Don on a test drive in one of the sbX articulated buses

“In my opinion, Don is very deserving of this award,” adds Instructor Christina Diaz. “He is a cool, calm, collected, flexible supervisor. He always has an open door policy. He is always open to suggestions and ideas. For me personally, I feel fortunate and grateful to work for someone like him. He’s been a great mentor to me and has taken me pretty much under his wing.  Even though he’s a supervisor, he’s had no reservations about taking time out of his busy schedule to work with me and show me Omni way. And I’m very appreciative of that.”

Omnitrans trainer Kimberly Perkins

Omnitrans trainer Kimberly Perkins

“Wow. What can I say?” says Instuctor Kimberly Perkins. “I just feel he’s taken us to a whole new level with new equipment and programs we never had before. He’s very good about listening to our suggestions and going to bat for us. I feel like I can go to him for anything. You know how sometimes you can feel so stressed by your boss that you don’t even want to come to work? Don’s the opposite. He makes you want to be here. He supports you and encourages you to give it your best. He always fair and treats all of us the same.”

Stephen McClure agrees. “Don is fair and follows the rules. He’s extremely nice to work for. Whenever I’ve talked with my wife about some of the things he’s done, she says ‘Wow, you really have a good boss.’  And she’s right. I have worked in my lifetime for many people—including myself—and he’s the best.” He grins, “And when you get to be as old as I am, you’ve worked for a lot of people.”

Omnitrans CEO P. Scott Graham, Operations Director Diane Caldera, Employee of the Year Don Frazier, and Board Chair Alan Wapner

Don seems a little overwhelmed by their comments.

“That means a lot to me, and it really hits me emotionally,” he confesses. “Last year was so tough on all of us. We had several large coach operator student classes, a coach operator instructor recruitment class, several return to work and accident prevention workshops and new DMV certifications to meet. We also had to train ourselves on the new sbX articulated buses  and learn to operate the corridor so that we could in turn train the coach operators. “

Don shakes his head, thinking back. “We were literally going non-stop all the time, pulling long hours and making personal sacrifices in order to do what needed to be done. They are an awesome team, and I’m incredibly proud of everything we’ve accomplished together.”

Director of Operations, Diane Caldera is not surprised. “When you lead by example and really care about and support your staff the way Don does, they will move the earth for you. We have one of the finest training teams in the industry and there is no end to what they can achieve.”

- Juno Kughler Carlson
  Juno.Carlson@omnitrans.org 

Don’s daughter Sandi Coria, his wife Audrey and son-in-law Phil Coria attended the award presentation to show their support and celebrate his achievement

Omnitrans is now on Instagram!

We love taking photos, and Instagram is the perfect place to show them off! Follow @Omnitrans to see everything from vintage throwbacks from our archives to great candid and behind-the-scenes shots. Below are some of the photos we’ve shared recently. Click on each picture to go to the actual post.

Have you taken any great Omnitrans shots?  Share them with us using hashtag #omnitrans!

sbX bus rapid transit launch day – photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

Mmmmm Omni donuts! – photo by Janice Kuhn

1980s Omni Flex Service – from the Omnitrans photo archives

Twilight at Omnitrans bus yard – photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

Elvis impersonator on an Omnitrans bus – Omnitrans photo archives

Stuffing buses at the Spark of Love Toy Drive – photo by Janice Kuhn

Omnitrans at the end of the rainbow – photo by Caroljo Mitchem

Bus cleaning on a rainy night – photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

 

Chaffey Transportation Scholarships Available

Students, here’s a great opportunity get extra money for school! Chaffey College has six Transportation Scholarships available for $500 each.

To be eligible, you must write a 1-2 page, double-spaced, typed essay that describes how you get to and from campus without the use of a car. Explain your typical commute, how you feel about it, and how it affects your college experience. If applicable, you also may address how receiving this scholarship would improve your current transportation situation.

To apply click here for the application form.

Scholarship applications are due in Student Activities by Monday, March 23 at 2:00 p.m. Good luck!

Lawyer helps homeless with Omnitrans bus passes

Criminal Defense Attorney Traci Childers

When Traci Childers stopped by the Omnitrans office today to ask about bus passes, there was something about her that immediately intrigued us. She explained that she was a criminal defense attorney and graciously sat down with me to share her story.

“I’m Christian,” smiles Traci, “Every day I say: ‘God, I get so busy with my court schedule and so forth, that I need to do something for you. Show me what I can do for you.”

Soft fleece blankets are always needed, as well as warm socks and gloves.

“As it happened this particular day I was in my car, praying as I do, asking Him to take me through each step of my day. I was on my way to court, but I couldn’t find a single parking place in any of the lots around the San Bernardino courthouse. Finally I saw a car pulling out of this little alcove, and I pulled in. Then I noticed all these people who had set up these little homes there. They were actually small tents and stuff, but I call them little homes because that’s what they are.  And they were perfectly situated like a little community by the wash. I felt guided here. This wasn’t threatening, it wasn’t dangerous, and it wasn’t nighttime”

“I got out of the car and said ‘Hey, excuse me.’ and three of the people walked over to me. I explained I had some things in the back of my car and wondered if they could use any of them.’”

“They nodded, ‘Yeah, yeah, definitely.’”

“You see, I tithe 10% of my income. But instead of giving to a church, because I don’t belong to a church, I put it aside into what I call my “God Fund.” And so that’s God’s money. I ask Him what I need to spend it on. I would go to the 99 cents store near my house and put together these little packages of things for the homeless. I’d pack gloves, socks, scarves, underwear, soap, and toiletries into insulated lunch bags and carry them in the back of my car. I felt blessed to be in a position to give.”

This care package for a woman includes toiletries, soap, lotion and soft slippers.

Traci paused and looked thoughtful. “You know, sometimes all of our good intentions just stay in our heads, and we need to get out in the community and do things. I always think about the homeless people and for all the times I think about it, I don’t always act on it. I would see homeless people at the side of the road all the time, but it often wasn’t convenient to stop. I’d have to park very far away and walk. And some of them were crazy and just wanted money or booze. These people by the courthouse were different.”

“I’d been praying, asking God help me find people who could use these things that I had gathered and here they were. The answer had come. The three men told me their names said there were about 20 people living there. They said they could really use men’s underwear, which I happened to have. They also explained that they really needed bus passes.”

This pillow was a giveaway Traci had received. Even small items like this can be a good care package addition.

“I could see they were clean, they were well-organized for what they had there, and it seemed like they helped each other. It was a community. It might not be the same community we would consider, but was a community nonetheless. And that’s what I’m looking for, because I believe in giving people a leg up. The fact that they wanted to take the bus to go somewhere and do something versus wandering on the street and hanging out at the liquor store says something to me.”

“You know I never would have thought about bus passes—ever. I just think about taking care of their basic needs. I knew they probably needed soap, toiletries, water and food. But I never thought about the importance of bus passes until they told me. So that’s why I came here today, to pick up bus passes and bus books to give to them.”

I asked Traci if she could show me some of the packages in her car and let me take her photo. She agreed accommodatingly, thinking it might inspire others to pay it forward. Her relaxed, friendly manner made it easy to understand why strangers would trust her and open up to her.

One of the men in the homeless community was too thin for regular men’s underclothing to fit. She put together a special package of items for him in his size.

She laughed.  “I don’t know. Maybe it’s the fact that God made me Italian. You know we love to talk to everyone. I just have always wanted to treat people the way I want to be treated. Even with my clients, I want them to feel that they are important and given respect. Some attorneys can have attitudes.  ‘They’ll say, don’t worry, I’ll take care of your case, goodbye.’ I explain what I would like to do and ask them what they think about that plan. It’s their case, you know? I can advise them, but only they know what they need.  Just like I can give homeless people whatever I think is helpful, but when they tell me what they really need—this is a great thing. It gives me purpose, to give something of real value rather than just something I want to give.”

Have you ever paid it forward to someone by gifting them with a bus pass? Tell us your story!

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Fabulous Third Thursday Food Fest

The Third Thursday Food Fest is always a great excuse to leave the office and enjoy mouth-watering food offered by some of the area’s most delicious food trucks.

Some San Bernardino foodies relaxed with friends under the shade trees while others danced to live jazz music from Richardson Prep HI.

After lunch, many spent time browsing the gift booths. Local vendors offered everything from handmade soaps and crystal sun catchers to Tupperware and Pampered Chef.

Savvy transit riders avoided parking hassles by taking advantage of the nearby sbX rapid transit line to get to the event.

We got big smiles and an enthusiastic thumbs up from these three sbX riders who were getting ready to board.

Be sure to add the Third Thursday Food Fest to your calendar as a must-do lunchtime event. The next one will be held on February 19th. See you there!