Employees of the Quarter, Keith Lembach and Dan Olaru

sbX Field Supervisor Keith Lembach believes that safety is not just the Coach Operator’s job – it should be everybody’s priority. It is his commitment to passenger safety that earned him the recognition of the Omnitrans Board of Directors as our Employee of the Quarter, in partnership with Body Shop Technician Dan Olaru.

“I always ask people, ‘How many people do you want to see injured today?’ says Keith. “If the answer is more than zero, you need to go home. It’s all of our jobs to promote safety.”

Employees of the Quarter Keith Lembach (center left) and Dan Nelu (center right) are recognized by (from the left) CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham and Board of Directors Chair Ron Dailey at May’s meeting.

Prior to joining Omnitrans two and a half years ago, Keith had acquired 37 years of valuable transportation experience. This includes years driving private charter buses and trucks. As a trucker, he accumulated two million accident-free miles – a remarkable feat in safe driving.

Just prior to Omnitrans, Keith served as safety manager for a transportation company. Seeking to turn around their dissatisfactory safety record, the company asked him to takeover as director of the program.

A desired change in career led Keith to Omnitrans, where he enjoys being out in our service area and interacting with our drivers and passengers. “I enjoy that every day is different. You can’t script this job. Every driver is different, every passenger is different,” he shares.

While driving sbX one day, Keith heard a loud crash near the back of the bus. Immediately, he paused the bus and noticed that a bike had slid all the way to the front of the bus from the bike holding area.

“I walked back and told the passenger that the bike had to be secured onboard. He said that it had been strapped in properly, but that the Velcro straps weren’t strong enough to hold the bike and that it fell out of the storage area,” he explains.

sbX Field Supervisor Keith Lembach begins his day at 5:30 a.m., helping to start the coaches and monitoring bus pullouts as service begins for the day. He checks for mechanical and farebox issues and helps them get resolved as service on the street is a time-sensitive matter.

Keith methodically assessed the bike straps and noticed that they were worn out and unable to hold the bike in any way. During subsequent ride checks, he noticed bikes tipping, falling, or coming completely unstrapped out of the metal racks. He saw the potential danger to passengers and to their property, and took a proactive approach to mitigating the hazard.

“Keith came into the Maintenance office in the body shop and talked to the supervisors about the trouble that he’d run into on sbX with bike racks,” says Body Shop Technician Dan Olaru.

“They asked him to come see me. From there, we walked the bus and he told me what he wanted to achieve. About a week later, I started work on a prototype, which I finished in the same day. We installed it on a bus, and about a month and a half later we were ready to create bike racks for the entire sbX fleet.”

By trial-and-error, Keith and Dan determined the exact measurements of the new sbX bike storage racks. They readjusted heights several times to ensure bikes of all sizes fit without issue. Once the final prototype was tested, no matter how fast the bus accelerated or stopped, the bikes were not going anywhere.

Dan, a 20-year employee of Omnitrans and now two-time Employee of the Quarter, methodically employed his creativity and self-taught skill to design, build, weld, and install a new solution to better serve our bike-riding passengers. He used existing parts from the old bike racks and implemented them into the design of our new, unique bike racks, minimizing the cost of the project.

Dan works to repair minor damage caused to a panel on the rear side of the bus. After sanding the area, he will fill the dents and scrapes, smooth them, and prime the panel before adding a fresh coat of paint.

“In 1989, I was approved for a visa to move to the United States from Romania which was under communist rule,” reveals Dan. “When I arrived, I worked for an asphalt company and then was hired at Omnitrans in 1997. I knew a little bit about body work from doing that on the side, but this is where my skills got much better.”

Now one of two body shop employees, Dan recalls a time in which there were six workers in the body shop. “Whenever we had a little downtime, I used to practice,” he recalls. “I learned a lot of what I know over the years by observing others and asking the right questions.”

“Dan’s ability to install the new racks with minimal changes to the bus is a work of art,” says Maintenance Supervisor Keith Hunt. “Each time, Dan goes above and beyond what was asked of him. We truly appreciate his work ethic and can-do attitude!”

“It’s a different thing to take on every day – challenging things,” says Dan. “But I like that. The challenges are why I am where I am in my career today. I like to see things that I’ve created with my own hands be implemented and approved of by the people around me and by our passengers.”

Shift to a Better Commute During Bike to Work Week 2018!

Pedal past traffic while you burn calories, get fit, and forget about the high cost of driving.

From Monday, May 14 to Friday, May 18, 2018, Omnitrans is joining the Bike to Work Week celebration to promote an alternative commute combining bicycling and riding the bus!

Whether you regularly ride your bike to the bus stop, or are trying it out for the first time, we invite you to participate in Bike to Work Week 2018 and enter our #RideOmni social media photo contest for a chance to win one of three prizes!

Here is how to enter:

  • Commute by bike and bus during Bike to Work Week and snap a photo, or video, of it. Images can be of you on your bike at a bus stop, your bike onboard sbX or on the local bus bike racks, at an Omnitrans transit center, etc.
  • Use the hashtag #RideOmni, so that we can capture your entry and consider it in our judging. Only entries posted during Bike to Work Week dates will be considered.
  • Tag @Omnitrans on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram – all three platforms will be tracked during this contest.
  • GET CREATIVE! The three most captivating and unique posts (as determined by Omnitrans Marketing staff) will be selected to win one of three prizes. Winners will be contacted directly the following week.

First place receives a $50 gift card to Don’s Bicycles (locations in Rialto and Redlands) for all of your bicycling needs and repairs. Second place receives two Regal Cinemas movie tickets (valued at $30), and third place wins a $20 gift card to Buffalo Wild Wings. All prizes include a 7-day Omnitrans bus pass!

Stop by the Omnitrans bike Pit Stops on Thursday, May 17!

Additionally, Omnitrans team members will have two Pit Stops located at the Montclair Transit Center and at the San Bernardino Transit Center from 6:30 a.m.- 9 a.m. We will have a special giveaway for our bike riders, and information on riding the bus with your bike. We can even help you enter the photo contest!

Omnitrans vehicles can accommodate 2-3 bicycles on secure exterior bike racks. sbX allows up to 4 bicycles inside the bus. For more details on riding with your bike, please visit Omnitrans.org. If your bike needs a tune up, the Bike Hubitat operated by IEBA at the San Bernardino Transit Center offers low cost bike maintenance every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 3-6 p.m.

Buses not in service Memorial Day

To remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country, Omnitrans buses will not be in service on Monday, May 28th in observance of Memorial Day. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who still fighting. We thank you for your service.

Omnitrans offices and the customer service call center will be closed on this day. We will reopen on Tuesday, May 29th and buses will return to normal operating schedules.

Weekend detours scheduled for May 4-5

Several Omnitrans routes will be on scheduled detour Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5 due to community events in our service area. Take a look at the planned detours, and times affected. As always, plan ahead if the detours affect your travel!

May 4, 2018, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. due to the Redlands Bicycle Classic in Highland

  • Route 15, (between Baseline Ave. and Church St.)
    • Eastbound from Baseline,
    • Right onto I-210 East,
    • Exit 5th St./Greenspot,
    • Left on 5th St.,
    • Right on Boulder, resume route
    • Westbound from Boulder,
    • Left on Greenspot/5th St.,
    • Right onto I-210 West,
    • Exit Baseline,
    • Left on Baseline, resume route

May 4, 2018, after 5 p.m. & May 5, 2018 all day, due to the Riverside Show & Go Car Show in Downtown Riverside

  • Route 215 (southbound only)
    • Southbound from 91 Freeway,
    • Exit Mission,
    • Right on Mission,
    • Quick left on Lime St.,
    • Left on University, resume route

May 5, 2018 from 7 a.m. – 1 p.m., due to the Fontana Days Parade in Fontana

  • Route 10 (eastbound only, on Sierra Ave. between Seville and Merrill)
    • Eastbound from Orange,
    • Left on Nuevo,
    • Left on Valencia,
    • Right on Juniper, resume route
  • Route 14 (on Sierra Ave. between Seville and Merrill)
    • Eastbound from Orange,
    • Left on Nuevo,
    • Left on Valencia,
    • Right on Juniper,
    • Right on Foothill, resume route
    • Westbound from Foothill,
    • Left on Juniper,
    • Left on Orange,
    • Layover on Orange
  • Route 15 (on Sierra Ave. between Seville and Merrill)
    • Eastbound from Orange,
    • Left on Nuevo,
    • Left on Valencia,
    • Right on Juniper,
    • Right on Foothill,
    • Right on Palmetto,
    • Left on Arrow, resume route
    • Westbound from Arrow,
    • Right on Palmetto,
    • Left on Foothill,
    • Left on Juniper,
    • Left on Orange, layover on Orange
  • Route 19 (on Sierra Ave. between Seville and Merrill)
    • Eastbound from Metrolink,
    • Left on Orange,
    • Left on Juniper,
    • Left on Merrill,
    • Right on Sierra, resume route
    • Westbound from Sierra,
    • Left on Merrill,
    • RIght on Juniper,
    • Right on Orange, into Metrolink
  • Route 61 (on Sierra Ave. between Seville and Merrill)
    • Eastbound from Sierra,
    • Left on Merrill,
    • Right on Juniper,
    • Right on Orange, into Metrolink
    • Westbound from Metrolink,
    • Left on Orange,
    • Left on Juniper,
    • Left on Merrill,
    • Right on Sierra, resume route
  • Route 82 (on Sierra Ave. between Seville and Merrill)
    • Eastbound from Sierra,
    • Left on Merrill,
    • Right on Juniper,
    • Right on Orange (into Metrolink),
    • Left on Orange,
    • Right on Juniper,
    • Right on Foothill,
    • Left on Sierra, resume route
    • Westbound from Sierra Ave,
    • Right on Foothill,
    • Left on Juniper,
    • Left on Orange (into Metrolink),
    • Left on Orange,
    • Left on Juniper,
    • Left on Merrill,
    • Right on Sierra, resume route

Comfort Dogs Train Aboard sbX Rapid Transit

sbX riders in San Bernardino and Loma Linda were accompanied by some uncommon, but pleasant fellow passengers last week –  well-behaved comfort dogs who just wanted to brighten up someone’s day. And they did, for passengers and drivers alike!

A dozen adorable comfort dogs of all sizes, along with their handlers, met at the sbX Park & Ride on Palm and Kendall in north San Bernardino to explore the public transit environment. The ride took them to the south end of the sbX Green Line at the VA hospital to help the volunteer dogs become familiar with different scenarios that they may encounter in their work.

Rim of the World Comfort Pets, based out of San Bernardino County, is an organization that aims to promote health and improve the quality of life for individuals through animal-human interactions, animal-assisted activities, and therapy. Certified therapy animals work to “help heal individuals, elevate the professional standards in the therapy animal field, and promote the general cause of volunteerism,” according to the organization’s website.

“None of us in this group have been on the bus before. It has been about four years since we’ve been on Omnitrans. This is new to us, and we’re really excited and thankful that Omnitrans has allowed us to do this.” said Catherine Walker, a volunteer with the group who coordinated the training. “Those already certified to do work at the VA hospital currently park at the Park & Ride lot on Redlands Blvd. and ride sbX, so this is great practice for that.”

To become a certified comfort animal, dogs go through a training process in which they are familiarized with all environments where they may practice their work, including elevators, around statues, and of course, on buses. This exercise helped put the dogs at ease in large moving vehicles and around new people.

Ginger, a miniature Schnauzer, received the Pet Hero award in 2017 by the Humane Society of San Bernardino Valley. This year, another Rim of the World Comfort Pets dog was named Pet Hero 2018 – a golden retriever named Chelsea.

“This is great training because the environments that we go into have people on crutches, or wheelchairs, or making noises, so this teaches the dogs to not be scared by that because it’s not something that they may otherwise be exposed to every day,” explains Philip G. who was accompanied by his one-year-old labradoodle, Beau. Beau has already been certified, but still joins trainings – just for fun!

This was Beau’s first time on a bus, and he was a natural! “He loves to go for rides in the car, and this is basically a larger, noisier car!” said Philip.

The dogs and their handlers can be seen visiting veterans at local hospitals, in nursing homes for the elderly, and in elementary school classrooms throughout San Bernardino County, where they help children hone their reading skills by reading to a dog. This eases the pressure of reading to a teacher or a parent.

“Kids read more freely,” explains Catherine. “They’re more interested when reading to a dog versus an adult who may interject and correct their reading. From the kids’ programs, to working with the men and women who serve our country, there is a wide range of people that we interact with.”

For Beatrice’s owner, Deborah B., volunteering with Rim of the World Comfort Pets is a way of giving back after having moved to Rancho Cucamonga from New Hampshire. When her daughter was sick in the hospital, she recalls comfort dogs coming to visit and noticeably enhancing her child’s mood and quality of life during a taxing time.

Beatrice, a Basset Hound, is undergoing training to become a certified therapy dog in the coming weeks. Those puppy dog eyes will melt any dog lover’s heart!

“Our daughter would light up when the dogs came to visit,” says Deborah. “Ever since then, we’ve wanted to get involved. Beatrice has the right energy for this type of work, and we knew she was the right fit to help make a positive impact on sick children. We’re looking forward to going out and working with kids once Beatrice is certified.”

“The best part has been seeing Beau mature and be able to participate,” says Philip G. “We go to a lot of nursing homes where the elderly look forward to holding the dogs as well as to the VA where the vets really appreciate the dogs. To watch the people light up when we visit is pretty special.”

View more photos of the comfort dogs on the bus on Flickr. To support or learn more about Rim of the World Comfort Pets, visit them online.

CSUSB student rides Omnitrans to stay active, avoid parking costs

Jose S. of Rialto has been riding Omnitrans and sbX for four years while working toward his degree in Sociology at California State University, San Bernardino. Even when he used to drive a car to class, Jose preferred to leave it at the free Park & Ride lot at Palm & Kendall, and shuttle down to class on sbX, only a five-minute bus ride to campus.

“Doing this helped me save money on a parking permit and, although for some people it may not be expensive, it also saved me time. Finding parking at such a large university can be pretty hard, even with your parking permit. My first year here, finding parking was easy, but now, when I skate by the parking lot, people will ask me if I am leaving so that they can follow me and take my parking spot,” he laughs.

Those student drivers’ hopes and dreams of snatching that parking space and making it to class on time are crushed when Jose tells them that he’s simply riding his skateboard to the sbX platform.

“Because of GoSmart, I don’t have to pay every time I board. All my money usually goes to school, or food, so it’s neat not having to pay. I’m hyped that I have my student ID card to ride Omnitrans wherever I need to go,” he explains.

“The drivers are sociable and friendly. I appreciate that if I start a conversation, they will engage with me. I also like the features such as the online trip planner and NexTrip text message capability to know how long it will be until your bus arrives. It’s almost always precise, never off by more than a minute.”

Jose got in touch with us via Instagram a few weeks back, where he reached out regarding our student internship opportunities. On his page, he showcases action-packed videos of he and his friends skating and skillfully performing tricks at skate parks.

“This is what I love to do. It’s my passion. Almost 10 years ago, my mom bought me a toy skateboard from Wal-Mart and when we visited my mom’s friend in Fresno, her kids with years of experience got me into skateboarding. I took a spare board that was in their garage since mine was slow compared to theirs, and that’s how I got into it,” he shared with us.

Riding Omnitrans isn’t just for school or work – Route 22 also gets Jose to the skate park where he can live out his passion and stay active. Even his friends have joined in on the fun and convenience of riding Omnitrans to the park. Jose says they were surprised by how different riding the bus was from what they thought.

“Route 22 takes me from my house right to the front of Ferguson Skate Park, which is so convenient. Route 14 takes me to the other skate park in Fontana. I would’ve never thought there would be so many bus stops to my destinations besides school,” he says.

Skating to and from the bus stop not only combines his favorite hobby with transportation, but it helps Jose relieve the stress of college life, especially during final exams. “It’s my form of meditation. Even a simple short ride from class to the bus stop can clear my mind,” he explains.

“I just enjoy riding my skateboard to the bus. This probably sounds weird, but I love the feeling of pressing the yellow strip to request a stop because we’re approaching my destination!” he jokes.

Ride Omnitrans and Save $2 On National Orange Show Citrus Fair Admission!

The Citrus Fair at San Bernardino’s National Orange Show (NOS) is back again this May, and so are we! Each year we look forward to enjoying funnel cake, riding the ferris wheel, and talking transit with our community. To make things even better, Omnitrans has partnered with NOS to offer $2 off admission coupons for Omnitrans riders!

The five-day fair kicks off Wednesday, May 1st and ends Sunday, May 6th. Click here for fair opening and closing times, plus cost of admission. To save on admission, simply ride any of our East Valley routes (1-29, 290, and sbX) and grab a $2 off coupon onboard behind the driver’s seat. This coupon guarantees a discount on admission, and is valid of any day of the fair.

While at the fair, come hang out with the Omnitrans gang at our booth on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday! Buster the Bus, our popular mascot, will be there meeting and greeting kids – and grown-ups – of all ages, and our super cool 1958 GMC vintage bus, Old Blue, will also be on site for you to step into and travel back in time. Snap a selfie and make sure to tag @omnitrans!

Omnitrans provides direct service to the NOS fairgrounds via Route 2 and the sbX Green Line. sbX operates every 10 to 15 minutes on weekdays.  Route 2 runs hourly on weekdays, and every 20 minutes on weekends. You can connect to these routes at the San Bernardino Transit Center, located just a mile north of the events center. For a personalized trip, check out our Trip Planner online or call 1 (800) 966-6428 for assistance.

The National Orange Show is located at 689 S E St., San Bernardino, CA 92408. For more information, visit the NOS Citrus Fair online!