Omnitrans interns land new jobs

Edson Ibanez and Victor Cuate

Omnitrans planning  interns Victor Cuate and Edson Ibanez have recently taken on new job positions. Victor is now a full-time planning analyst for the agency, while Edson has been hired as a city planner for the city of Azusa. Both credit Omnitrans with providing them a solid foundation in the transit planning and recommend internships to other students interested in entering the field.

“The planning internships here are very hands on,” says Victor. “And the managers really take you under their wing. They don’t necessarily assign you a project and stand over you. They give you project options and want you to take it and run with it. You learn to work within limitations and act as a team with others in the department to enhance your skills.”

Edson agrees. “One of the biggest things that helped me was doing inter-department presentations because with the city I now have to do a lot of public hearings. I also some public hearings here at Omnitrans, so that helped give me a foundation as well. I also gained  an understanding of  how land use and transportation play a role in development. In my new job with the city, I am doing stuff that has to do with sustainable communities and a specific transit development plan. My experiences both with Omnitrans and SanBAG have given me a great foundation to build on.”

Edson Ibanez and Victor Cuate

Omnitrans is looking for a temporary, part-time transit planner intern. You can read the full job description and find our application form on the Omnitrans careers page.

Click below to view our video interview with Victor and Edson as they talk transit and share their experience at Omnitrans.

Omnitrans Thanksgiving Schedule

HOLIDAY BUS SCHEDULE
Omnitrans buses will not be operating on Thursday, November 27th in honor of Thanksgiving. Buses will return to their normal service schedules on Friday, November 28th.

HOLIDAY OFFICE SCHEDULE
Omnitrans offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 27th and 28th. They will reopen on Monday, December 1st.

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

Autumn bus photo by photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

“I feel like somebody”

Bridge program photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

Bridge Program instructors Patricia Dorch and Henry Shields with Aaron Harper

As a regular bus passenger, Aaron Harper had been interested in possibly pursuing a career as a coach operator. So when a friend sent him an email about open coach operator positions at Omnitrans, he decided to apply. To give himself an advantage, he also signed up for the agency’s 5-day Bridge program, which helps people develop professional resume and interview skills and gives them an overview of the transit industry and coach operator duties.

“I really did this for myself,” says Aaron. “The class made me feel like somebody. I’ve been through a lot in my life, and wanted to show everybody that I could do this no matter what my past has been like. There’s also a special somebody that I admire and would like to have in my life. I’d like to show her that I am doing good.”

Bridge program photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

Aaron Harper on the second day of Bridge Program classes

Still the 21-year-old struggled with mixed feelings about the class, and he almost quit the first day.

“My first day, I kind of doubted this program,” he admits. “I was thinking, ‘Oh man, I am taking two days off from my job at Goodwill to do this and there’s no guarantee I’ll even get hired. This is just a waste of my time.’ Now I’m glad that I took those two days off. Even if my boss from my other job didn’t understand, I understand. I’m glad I got what I needed, and now I can take the skills with me anywhere.”

Over the past few years, Aaron has been following his dream to be a musician. He sings, raps, and plays the drums. But now he’s decided to take a step back and focus on making a living.

Bridge program photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

“I really wanted to see what else I was good at, so here I am,” Aaron says. “At first it was the money that got my attention. Especially for people my age, there aren’t many ways to make that kind of money. I was thinking that even if I didn’t get to be a bus driver maybe I could do maintenance or something. I came here with an open mind. Whatever they throw at me, I’m just willing to work. I want to do something with myself.”

As part of the final day of class, the students dress up as they would for a job interview. For Aaron, it inspires a feeling of pride and professionalism.

“I like dressing up,” he explains. “I don’t know, it just makes me feel like somebody. When you step in here, it makes you feel like you’re important—like all eyes are on you. And you kind of rise to that, but not in an ego kind of way. You just feel like you’re respected in the business part of your life.”

Graduates of the Bridge Program are universally recognized by regional transit agencies as prime candidates for coach operator positions. At the end of their program, participants receive a certificate of completion they can include with their resumes when applying for a coach operator position.

Aaron with Omnitrans Director of Internal Audit and Workforce Development Committee lead, Dr. Samuel Gibbs

“The certificate means that I put forth the effort to utilize my time to come here,” says Aaron. “It’s basically saying that my role businesswise is important. The way I conduct myself is important. And my dedication is important. I felt like leaving after the first day. I felt it was a waste of my time because it was just a program, not a job. So what’s the point? I’m looking for something right now. Now I feel the class helped me, and I might actually get the job. Who knows? I could get a call next week or weeks from now. As a Bridge Program graduate I know I’ll probably be the first to get looked at before the next man.”

Whether or not he is hired on as a coach operator, Aaron believes the skills he has gained from the program will change the way he approaches his work.

“I would definitely recommend this program to other people. I’m going to go back to my job pretty happy with what I’ve learned and treating customers a little better. Not that I’ve ever treated customers badly, but now my eyes are more open to it. Maybe I’ll be a little more talkative—even explain a little about my experiences over the past week, you know? It could help someone else.”

There are limited spots still available in our Bridge Program for December. Click here to sign up for a class session.

Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Aaron and his classmates celebrate their Bridge Program graduation

 

Get a free Omnitrans bus pass on your birthday!

Thank you Omnitrans riders! We appreciate  having the opportunity to serve your transportation needs.

As a special thank you, we want to give you  a free 1-Day bus pass for your birthday in 2015.  

Simply sign up below before December 31st to let us know your birthday month and mailing address.

San Bernardino Transit Center Update

See more photos of the San Bernardino Transit Center on Flickr.

 View artist renderings of the finished project here.

Construction is moving along on schedule and on budget for the San Bernardino Transit Center. The project, which is managed by San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), will be complete in July 2015. The facility is LEED Gold, with solar panels on the roof, drought-tolerant landscaping, and a highly efficient heating and cooling system in the building. It will include a customer service/pass sales office, public restrooms, and shelters with real-time bus arrival signage.

Parsons Brinckerhoff is the construction manager, Kemp Brothers is the contractor, and HDR was the designer. The $21 million project is being paid for through a combination of federal transit, federal highway, and state and local funds. The majority are federal transit grants that were awarded to Omnitrans for Bus Facilities.

Sundial art installation at the San Bernardino Transit Center


 View artist renderings of the finished project here.

See more photos of the San Bernardino Transit Center on Flickr.
Photos by Janice Kuhn

A visit with Omnitrans student coach operators

Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Steve McClure and a student coach operator go through routes on the system map

Our latest group of student coach operators spent time this week both in the classroom and out in the bus yard, mastering the customer service and technical skills they will need before going out on the road. I stopped by the training room yesterday to visit the class to see how it was going so far.

“Probably the most challenging thing so far is having to learn all 26 routes within a couple of weeks. It’s rough, but we can do it,” says one of the students confidently. The rest of the class nods, smiling.

“Christina’s been teaching us to use key words to help us remember each route,” adds another student. “For example, I remember that the route on Baseline and 16th is the 67  because 1 + 6 = 7. For some reason that sticks for me.”

Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Christina Diaz has no doubt her charges will be ready to pass their final test. “They are on this.  They’re a great group and they’re absorbing information like sponges.”

Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Christina Diaz

She points out there’s a lot more more memorization involved in training that most people realize. Not only do student coach operators have to remember the routes, they also have to commit to memory all the radio codes and fare box codes as well. This means lots of study time at home after  class.

The trainers also ensure the students experience public transit firsthand from a rider perspective. They have them ride the system in addition to learning to drive it.

“Earlier this week we dropped each of them off in different parts of Montclair,” laughs Christine. “And they had to figure out what buses to take to get back to the San Bernardino office. They actually did very well.”

Many of the students have operated large vehicles before, which they point out can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Sometimes it means there are bad habits they have to break–like how to handle the steering wheel.

One of the students demonstrates how NOT to hold the steering wheel.

“Hand positions are at 10-2, 9-3, or 8-4 and should be kept on the outside rim of the wheel,” explains Christina.

“And no palming or putting your hand in the crossbar,”says a young man in the back.”The wheel could spin suddenly and you could get hurt or cause an accident”

Christina grins proudly. “See? They’ve got this.”

The class laughs. They joke with each other, mimicking examples of bad drivers at the wheel. They are obviously a close knit crew and have already bonded over the past two weeks. All of them are looking forward to going out in the field with coach operator instructors next week and driving the routes.

As I get ready to leave, they wave and say goodbye.

“Make sure you’re here on graduation day to take our picture,” calls out one of the women. “You’re going to need a wide lens ’cause we are all going to graduate. We’re in this together!”

-Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

Student coach operators clocking out at dispatch at the end of the day

 

Zimbabwean student talks transit & sbX

Hunts Station photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

Cal State student Simbarashe Peresch at the sbX Hunts Lane station

Grand Terrace resident Simbarashe Peresch has been riding Omnitrans and sbX since he first arrived here from Zimbabwe on September 17th. He is currently enrolled at Cal State University San Bernardino where he is majoring in biology. Thanks to the Go Smart program, Simbarashe is able to get unlimited bus rides using his student ID. We caught up with him at the Hunts Lane station and asked what he thought about the sbX rapid transit line.

He told us he liked how quickly sbX gets him to campus. He was also impressed by the roominess, air conditioning and onboard Wi-Fi.

“It’s very different from Zimbabwe,” Simbarashe explains with a broad smile. “where I come from, we have much smaller buses that only hold about 15 people.  And it costs only 50 cents to ride!”

“Also I’ve noticed here that there is not that much of a distinction between cities,” he continues. “You can pass from Redlands into Loma Linda without knowing it. In my country there are vast lands of field between cities that separate them. You know immediately when you are out of town.”

He points to the art glass on the station windscreen beside him. “The designs of stations here are very beautiful too,” he grins. “Traveling here has been a very different experience for me. I very much like riding sbX.”

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org