Give to the 2016 Spark of Love Toy Drive!

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Every child deserves to have a delightful and happy holiday season, and you can have a part in making that happen by joining Omnitrans for this year’s ABC7/Southern California Firefighters Spark of Love Toy Drive!

We’ll be collecting new, unwrapped toys for under-served children in our local communities on Friday, December 9, 2016 at Mathis Brothers Furniture! They are located at 4105 Inland Empire Blvd, Ontario, CA 91764. The annual Stuff-A-Bus event will take place from 5am-6pm. Last year, our community came together and stuffed nine buses full with toys for our San Bernardino County children! In addition to supporting a great cause, you can enjoy music, treats, take a look at the ABC7’s news copter, and say hello to Santa at the event!

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An Omnitrans bus at the 2015 Stuff A Bus event.

Can’t make it out to the event? You can still spread the holiday cheer! We will be collecting toy drop-offs through Thursday, December 8th at our main office lobby in San Bernardino, and at the San Bernardino Transit Center.

You may also stop by any local fire station to drop off your toy, or donate monetarily online. All proceeds will go to buying toys or sports equipment for the children. Click here to donate online!

Omnitrans’ administrative offices are located at 1700 W. Fifth Street San Bernardino, CA 92411. The San Bernardino Transit Center is located at 599 W. Rialto Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92401. For hours of operation please click here.

40th Anniversary Sweepstakes Winners Announced!

Last month, we reached an important landmark which you may have heard a thing or two about – our 40th anniversary! As part of our celebration, we gave away 40 prizes, one for each year that Omnitrans has proudly served the San Bernardino Valley.

Winners were chosen at random from our pool of 700-plus sweepstakes entries, and the grand prize winner of a $400 Visa gift card and twelve 31-day bus passes is Juan Perez of Fontana! Thanks to all who entered.

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Juan Perez of Fontana, the grand prize winner!

“When you first called me, I didn’t know who it was. I was at work and didn’t believe it,” Juan tells us of the surprise congratulatory phone call from Omnitrans. “After I heard the voicemail message and called back, then I thought ‘Okay, this is legit.’”

Juan first learned about the giveaway when he noticed the advertisement on an Omnitrans bus. We were pleased to know that he found out about the sweepstakes the “old school” way in an age dominated by digital and social media!

Omnitrans has been a part of the 28-year-old’s life for many years, tracing back to his days as a high school student, when he took the bus home after school. “I didn’t know all the routes back then, and I would end up getting lost sometimes,” Juan laughs as he reminisces.

These days, Juan rides Omnitrans when he and his brother feel like enjoying a day together at San Manuel Casino in Highland, or simply choose to leave their car at home.

“It’s helpful if you don’t want to take an Uber or drive yourself. It’s a lot cheaper than those options,” he says. “Or, if I want to have an [adult] beverage, I obviously don’t want to drive, and I feel safe riding Omnitrans.”

Juan is thankful to have entered the drawing, and the gift card will definitely come in handy for him this holiday season! “Thanks, Omnitrans for the prize and congratulations on your 40-year anniversary!” says a delighted Juan.

For the full list of our 40th Anniversary Sweepstakes winners, please click here.

Single Dad and Family Thrive on Freeway Express Service

We met Vincent and his family one morning while riding Route 215, one of Omnitrans’ Freeway Express routes, to Downtown Riverside. He and his two children, Jeremy and Destiny, ages 3 and 2, respectively, board the bus every morning to head from home in San Bernardino to Riverside, where he drops them off at daycare before he goes about his day.

“My car has been down for about a month now, so we ride Omnitrans every morning to Riverside and back to San Bernardino when [the kids] get out at 4 p.m.,” Vincent tells us as he holds Destiny in his lap and her brother, Jeremy, looks out the window. “It’s an efficient and quick way to get where we need to go.”

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Route 215 has been a bit of a life saver for their family. In just a few weeks of riding, they have become acquainted with the drivers and grown to enjoy the experience of making the bus part of their daily routine.

“The drivers on this route are awesome and reliable. They do a great job and we never feel unsafe riding the bus,” Vincent tells us. “Not only that, but I love that the freeway express route is timely. I know exactly when the bus will depart from the San Bernardino Transit Center and I don’t have to wait around for it to arrive.”

Timeliness is key, especially when connecting to two other routes during your trip, like Vincent and his children do. All in all, they make it to daycare in about an hour, thanks to the Freeway Express route’s limited stops.

By the time we reach the second and last stop of Route 215 at the Riverside Transit Center, the two young kids are getting antsy and ready to play. “If only we all woke up with this much energy and didn’t need energy drinks or coffee in the morning!” jokes Vincent. They wave as they hop off the bus to catch their RTA connection for last leg of their trip.

Omnitrans currently operates two different freeway express routes, Route 215 from San Bernardino to Riverside via I-215, and Route 290 from San Bernardino to Montclair via I-10.

Omnitrans Offers Free Rides for Vets on Veterans Day

To honor our veterans on Veterans Day, Omnitrans is offering free rides to the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces on Friday, November 11, 2016. It is our way of saluting those individuals who have contributed to protecting our nation’s freedom.

To ride, veterans simply present an ID card indicating their retired military status upon boarding any of Omnitrans’ vehicles including sbX, Freeway Express, OmniGo community shuttles, and our local fixed-route buses. Accepted forms of ID include those issued by US Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs, San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Since January 2015, Omnitrans has offered rides at a reduced fare for the approximate 79,000 veterans living in the San Bernardino Valley. Required methods of proof of eligibility for such fare discount include:

  • County of San Bernardino Military Veterans ID card
  • US Department of Veteran Affairs ID card
  • Department of Defense retired ID card, or
  • A transit agency Veterans ID card

If you are a veteran and would like to apply for the San Bernardino County Military Veterans ID card, please click here to apply online.

A Closer Look at Omnitrans’ Growth from a Past Driver’s Perspective

Change is unavoidable, especially for a public transit agency in the ever-changing landscape of Southern California, but taking a closer look at how things were 40 years ago illustrates just how far Omnitrans has come! This month, as we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we connected with one of our original employees – Richard Breeden – who was integral in developing some important practices that are still part of our daily operations in connecting our community.

It was 1958 when Richard joined San Bernardino Valley Transit, which would become Omnitrans. After being discharged from the US Army, and a short stint at Santa Fe Railroad, Richard saw a job opening for bus drivers and decided to apply, hoping to utilize his experience as an Army driver. After completing a test drive, he was asked if he could begin the 14-day training process the next day.

“I was given a rule book to read before coming in the next day,” remembers Richard of the fast-paced process. “I had to learn all the routes, rules, regulations, operation procedures, and fares all in one night!”

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Richard in action as the first bus driver trainer around the time Omnitrans was formed.

Many things were different in the transit world in those days. Base fare was 25 cents, the buses did not have wheelchair lifts, and there was no air conditioning for those hot summer days! In addition to conducting a 20-40 foot bus without power-steering, it was the driver’s duty to collect fare, sort it and run it through a changer to generate change for the next stop. Hello, forearms of steel! 

It was only Richard’s seventh day of training when he was asked to train a fellow student! Hesitantly, Richard complied with the dispatcher’s request and from that moment forward, he was no longer a student, but as a trainer.

Of course, that’s not how it works today. Four decades later, Omnitrans’ coach operators must complete five to six weeks of training and education with a certified trainer, including classroom work, behind the wheel experience, and even a state-of-the-art coach simulator with the most advanced technology.

In 1962, Richard was the employee who took the initiative to approach the city of San Bernardino to voice the need for formal training of our drivers. A few months later, a sign-up sheet was posted for anyone interested in being a trainer. Richard did not sign up.

When the transit manager asked why his name was not on the list, Richard responded that he was “happy being a bus driver.” After being convinced to add his name to the pool of applicants, he scored an interview and was selected for the newly created role.

After developing a comprehensive three-week training program that included diagrams and obstacle courses, City Hall approved Richard’s plan. The students’ training period culminated with a test created by Richard, which required a passing score of 80% or higher. Those who scored below that threshold were terminated.

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Richard came back to Omnitrans for a visit last summer and posed with Old Blue, our vintage 1958 bus, which he found and was also the first to drive at special events around town.

In the years following, Richard revamped the driver’s rule book, and partnered with the National Safety Council to create the Million Mile Club for transit operators, an exclusive club for drivers who have driven 1,000,000 miles accident-free. He strengthened our partnerships with law enforcement by coordinating mutually beneficial trainings on our vehicles, and created positive relations between Omnitrans and community organizations including coordination of the first employee blood drive after a mechanic’s daughter found herself in need during surgery. The blood drive continues to this day.

Richard retired in 2000 as Fleet Safety and Training Supervisor at Omnitrans, but returned for special events to drive our 1958 vintage bus, Old Blue, which he found and drove for the first time. Although we have vastly grown from a small agency of just 29 vehicles in 1976, it is employees such as Richard who had the foresight to implement ideas that continue to impact our agency four decades later.

Omnitrans Proposes Service Change to Route 215

Omnitrans is proposing a service change for early next year – and we want your feedback! The service changes would affect Freeway Express Route 215, which connects passengers between San Bernardino and Riverside with limited stops. Due to the closing of the Riverside Transit Center, plans are to reroute Route 215 to serve the Downtown Riverside Metrolink Station on Vine Street. The map below illustrates these changes:

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To gather public comment, Omnitrans staff will be at the San Bernardino Transit Center on Thursday, November 3, 2016 from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., near the Route 215 and 290 stops. In addition to the proposed changes, we will be listening to your feedback on all Omnitrans services, with specific focus on the recently implemented mid-day Route 290 service.

If approved, the Route 215 change would become effective on January 8, 2017 to coincide with Riverside Transit’s (RTA) transit center closure.

The San Bernardino Transit Center is located at 599 W Rialto Ave, San Bernardino, CA 92410.

Celebrate With Us As Omnitrans Turns 40!

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You only turn 40 once, and we are making it count! Since first starting out in 1976, Omnitrans has traveled nearly 300 million miles in the San Bernardino Valley – that’s the equivalent of three round trips around Mars! More importantly, however, we have connected with our community along the ride and have been part of many people’s lives. Be sure to follow us on social media to be part of all the fun as we celebrate this accomplishment all month long!

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Customer Appreciation Days
Reaching our 40th anniversary is a significant milestone that would not have been possible without you – our customers – and we would like to show our gratitude. We will be hanging out at our West Valley transit centers (Chino, Montclair, Ontario) the morning of Monday, October 17th and at our East Valley transit centers (Fontana, San Bernardino) on Tuesday, October 18th with a commemorative 40th Anniversary giveaway that you don’t want to miss out on! Swing by, say hi and grab one while they last.

40th Anniversary Sweepstakes
Forty years…forty prizes! Enter our 40th Anniversary Sweepstakes for a chance to be one of our randomly selected winners. Simply visit the sweepstakes entry page*, fill out the form completely, and you will be automatically entered for a chance to win. Prizes include Farmer Boys and movie gift cards, commemorative items, and a grand prize of $400 on a Visa gift card, plus a whole year’s worth of Omnitrans passes – a deal that beats even our original bus fare of $.25 per ride!

*Paper entries are available and accepted at the San Bernardino Transit Center customer service and Omnitrans administration office desks.

40 Years of Omnitrans Trivia Contests
Join us as we look back on our accomplishments! Omnitrans has achieved many things in the last 40 years, including several 1st Place Safety Awards from the National Safety Council, and we want to celebrate with you and a good old game of trivia! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and each Monday for the rest of October we will have a new trivia question for you. All who answer correctly will be entered into a weekly drawing on Fridays for a chance to win a $40 Visa gift card!

Last Call for Memories
In 40 years, Omnitrans has grown from 29 vehicles to a fleet of 275 buses and 34 routes! That is a lot of rides that transcend generations, so tell us: do you have a fond memory of Omnitrans? Share your story and photo(s) by e-mailing onlinemktg@omnitrans.org. You may also post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #OmniTurns40. Selected stories and photos will be featured as part of our celebration this month.

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