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

Thanking veterans with a free ride

U.S military veterans will receive free bus rides on Veterans Day. It’s our way of saying thank you to those who have served this country to protect our freedom.

Veterans simply need to show retired military ID when boarding any Omnitrans route including the sbX rapid line, 215 freeway express, 25 local bus routes, or 5 OmniGo community shuttle routes. Acceptable veteran IDs include those issued by the US Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs and  San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs. For more information on veteran IDs, click here.

All of us at Omnitrans are proud to support our veteran community. sbX coach operator Rachel Tripp expresses it best.

sbX coach operator Rachel Tripp picking up veterans at the VA hospital station

“It feels good to pull in to the station and see the veterans come on board,” says Rachel. “Many of them have been through so much with everything they’ve seen and experienced. A lot them are still going through rough times, trying to find jobs or struggling with homelessness. They have done so much for all of us. It’s a great honor for me to pick them up and give them good service. It’s a small way I can express my own gratitude and show my respect.”

This Veterans Day we salute all of our veterans, who are such an integral part of our local community,.

Veteran at VA hospital station by photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Big Bear resident and Navy veteran Michael Johnson uses MARTA, Omnitrans and sbX to get to his doctor appointments at the VA hospital in Loma Linda.

Vets and friends Marvin and Ed help teach art skills to other veterans at the VA hospital.

Omnitrans veteran by photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Veteran holds his Omnitrans “Proud Veteran” button at the VA hospital station.

Veteran takes his seat on board the sbX BRT Green Line.

Bus stops added to Routes 5 & 8

This Sunday, November 9th, two new bus stops will be added to Routes 5 and 8.  Both will be ready for service on Monday morning.

The Route 5 bus stop (ID #8394) will be located on Weir Road at Barton southbound.  This new stop will help passengers make a quicker connection to the Route 19.

The Route 8 bus stop (ID #8396) will be located on Pearl at Orange eastbound.

Diane Bojorquez: Employee of the Quarter

Diane Bojorquez is honored as Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Omnitrans CEO P. Scott Graham, Marketing Director Wendy Williams, Employee of the Quarter Diane Bojorquez and Board Chair Alan Wapner

What do you do when your department undergoes a restructure that doubles your workload? If you’re Diane Bojorquez, you roll up your sleeves and rise to the challenge. On November 5th, she was honored as Employee of the Quarter creating and implementing a hugely successful fare change communication plan.

“It’s been an interesting few months,” admits Diane. “With the reorganization, we eliminated a staff position, which then added pass sales distribution responsibilities to my list of duties. At the same time, we were preparing for our first fare increase in five years, so it was critical to streamline our process and come up with a good communication plan.”

Diane Bojorquez,  photographer Juno Kughler CarlsonDiane’s first priority was to personally visit each of our more than 80 pass vendors to let them know she would be servicing their accounts directly, which would cut down on the turnaround time for order fulfillment. It also gave her the opportunity to talk with them about the upcoming fare change well in advance and to answer any questions they might have.

“I knew that spending time with each of these businesses and re-establishing relationships with them was going to be the single most important thing I could do,” explains Diane. “It’s all about building a community where our partners feel supported. I wanted to be face-to face with them so they could associate Omnitrans with a real person who wanted to take the time to get to know them and understand their needs.”

Her efforts paid off.  Vendor feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Orders are now streamlined and processed within hours rather than days, and pass outlet sales have grown 13% year to date.

Diane then turned her attention to the online store. In order to change over product prices, she knew the store would need to be temporarily closed for business for 2 days prior to the fare change. With the help of her team, she sent letters to mail order customers notifying them of the online store closure and enclosing a chart that compared current and upcoming fare prices.

Diane Bojorquez celebrates with family and friends,  photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Employee of the Quarter revelry with Jonathan Bojorquez, Diane Bojorquez, Tembi Tovar, Melissa Castillo, Diana Duran and Lilliann Duran

By anticipating customer needs before they arose and delivering outstanding personal customer service, Diane ensured our 2014 fare change went smoothly, and that there were no complaints related to outlet or online store fare media. Online store revenues were up 35% in September versus last year.

“None of it could have happened without the support of my team,” Diane points out. “Tembi Tovar, our administrative secretary, made the rounds with me to the outlets and helped process orders. Our receptionists Susie Perez, Lucy Gonzales-Brown and Liz Calderon made sure our walk-in customers had the fare change information in their hands, processed exchanges and helped answer questions. It was definitely a group effort, and I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.”

Diane celebrates her 10 year anniversary with Marketing Director Wendy Williams (left) and Customer Service Manager Melissa Castillo (right)

This year Diane celebrated her 10th  anniversary with Omnitrans. She has over 37 years in the transit industry, including 27 years with LA Metro, where she began as a 19-year-old information clerk.

“Transit has been a great career for me,” says Diane. “And I like the fact it’s allowed me to change and grow along with it. Technology has changed a lot since 1975, but I was fortunate enough to receive on-the-job training that gave me the skills I needed to adapt. Omnitrans is very good about encouraging employees to develop leadership skills and come up with new ideas that can help the agency.”

Two years ago, Diane participated in a Leadership Achievement Program at Omnitrans, where she developed an audio advertising project.  The project would enable short, GPS triggered audio advertisements or public service messages on buses at carefully spaced intervals. This month, her project was approved for implementation.

Diane and family, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Diane Bojorquez and her children Diana and Jonathan

“I’m really excited about it,” she laughs. “It’s been such a long process, that I can hardly believe it’s finally happening! It will bring in additional revenue at absolutely no cost to the agency. It also provides a location-based service to our customers.  For example, they might learn that a nearby drugstore is offering low cost flu shots or that a restaurant is offering 2-for-1 specials for riders who show them a bus pass. It’s a simple way we can add value for our passengers.”

In her private life Diane is all about family. Her daughter Diana, son Jonathan, and granddaughter Lilliann were all on hand to cheer her on during her award presentation.  Diane proudly shows off a photo of an intensely focused Lilliann striking a catching stance in her softball uniform. “She’s the only girl on the team,” she grins. “I love that she’s so independent. She knows what she wants and goes for it! Kind of like her Grammy.”

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Diane Bjorquez and grandaughter Lilliann,  photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Strong independent women run in the family: Diane Bojorquez and granddaughter Lilliann