Monthly Archives: July 2012

Omnitrans employees share Olympic memories

Veto Espinoza and Leo Del Rez at the 2002 Olympics

As Olympic champions compete in London, a few Omnitrans employees are thinking back to 2002 and the roles they played at the winter Olympics in Utah.

“I had forgotten how cold Utah can be,” said Al Mooney, who grew up in that area before he moved to California. “It was freezing all the time–you’d feel it right down to your bones. I was lucky to be working night dispatch, so at least I was indoors.”

Al Mooney at the Omnitrans dispatch office

But inclement weather wasn’t about to stop these Omnitrans employees from volunteering when Olympics organizers began recruiting dispatchers, coach operators and mechanics for the winter games. They each jumped at the chance to be part of history!

Those who were hired received a special Olympic uniform to keep, complete with a heavy parka, gloves and a hat. In addition to an hourly wage, room and meal allowance, they were also given free transportation to and from events when not working.

“The whole thing was extremely well organized,” said Olympic veteran and Field Supervisor Dennis Jones. Dennis worked as a driver for the Olympic games in both Utah and Vancouver.  ”And security was incredibly tight. No one was taking any chances after 9/11 which had occurred just 5 months prior. They even had Black Hawk snipers in the air, to secure the parameters of the event. It was quite the sight!”

Coach Operator Clifton Williams

For Coach Operator Clifton Williams one of the highlights of the event was seeing the Presidential helicoptor land. “It was really neat ,” chuckled Clifford. “I was so excited to be there. We were working almost all the time, so we really didn’t much  of a chance to see the games. But we still met a lot of interesting people from all over the world. I would do it again in a heartbeat!”

Maintenance Supervisor Veto Espinoza recalls the preparation involved for the event. “All of us had to undergo an intensive background check and drug testing before they would even consider us. I was hired as a mechanic. I remember every morning we had to take off jumpsuits and coats and strip down to street clothes each day to pass through security checks before we were allowed near the buses. The bus yards were locked down tightly, and they weren’t taking any chances of a breach.”

Omnitrans Maintenance Supervisor Veto Espinoza

Veto and the other mechanics arrived a couple of weeks prior to the games in order to get the the buses prepped for travel. For the most part, the buses were retired vehicles that were donated by various transit agencies, and it was anticipated that they would need a lot of work to keep them running smoothly. Since the vehicles had been sitting there for a month, the first big challenge was to dig them out of the huge snow piles surrounding them.

“It took four guys over an hour just to dig out one vehicle,” explained Veto. “And there were five hundred buses. At that time, the exhaust pipes were below the bus instead of on top, so we had to make sure they were clear before we started the vehicles. They had been sitting there for a while, so we had to stick a little ether down the throat of the engines just to get them started.”

Veto Espinoza & Leo Del Rez at the 2002 winter Olympics

Field Supervisor Dennis Jones drove buses during the event, and  was impressed with the efficiency and precision of the organizers.  When they first arrived on site, Olympic hires received an orientation on the rules and guidelines for the organization as well as state work requirements. This was followed by extensive classroom training. Coach operators received route training to get them familiar with driving the snowy streets and mountain roads. They were taught just two routes each to prevent them from getting lost.

Omnitrans Field Supervisor Dennis Jones

“Every detail was planned. Nothing was left to chance,” said Dennis. “If a bus broke down or you deviated from your designated route in any way, an officer was there immediately to find why. That’s how closely things were guarded.”

If their off hours, our crew enjoyed meeting people from all over the world. A particular favorite was the Jamaican bobsled team.

“They were definitely party guys,” laughed Dennis. “And they were always surrounded by beautiful women. Remember that movie about them? Cool Runnings? It was exactly like that.”

Veto Espinoza agreed. “We had a good time hanging out with those guys before they competed. They had no money, no nothing. It really was like the movie. All the other bobsled teams had these fancy truck beds to carry their sled up the mountain. But not the Jamaican team. We helped them load their bobsled into the back of a pickup truck!”

Veto Espinoza and the Jamaican bobsled team.

sbX Construction Update for June 30 – August 3

To establish a safe work environment for crews and the public, the construction crew has implemented traffic control measures that allow for at least one lane in each direction to be open during construction. Maintaining access to businesses is a high priority as part of this project. As such, signage is placed throughout the corridor to inform the public that they are open for business.

Kendall Drive and Palm Avenue Park-and-Ride-Facility

  • Parameters: South of Kendall Drive and Palm Avenue intersection
  • Day Work: Mon. – Fri. from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
  • Specifics: Work on park-and-ride restroom continues, Sidewalk grading
  • LANE CLOSURE: NA


CSUSB

  • Parameters: New bus station location on campus
  • Day Work: Mon. – Fri. from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
  • Specifics: Roadway work such as paving, pouring and concrete curing activities continue, work on bus passenger platform continues
  • LANE CLOSURE: Traffic control in effect.


E Street

  • Parameters: Select locations between 10th Street and Hospitality Lane
  • Day Work: Mon. – Fri. 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
  • Night Work: Mon. – Fri. from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. nightly
  • Specifics: Driveway, curb and gutter work continues, tree relocation, storm drain activities, electrical activities, street light activities, fire hydrant relocation activities, water meter relocation activities
  • LANE CLOSURE: Parking and lane nearest the curb along the east side of E Street between 10th Street and 6th Street has been eliminated. Traffic control in effect on east and west side of E Street throughout the corridor.
  • Please note: Properties impacted by water meter relocation activities will receive notification prior to service. 


Hospitality Lane

  • Parameters: Select locations between E Street and Tippecanoe Avenue
  • Night Work: Mon. – Fri. from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
  • Intermittent Day Work
  • Specifics: Driveway, curb and gutter work continues, landscaping activities, irrigation activities, electrical activities, street light activities
  • LANE CLOSURE: North side of Hospitality Lane nearest the curb is closed.
 

Various Bus Station Locations

  • Parameters: Little Mountain Drive, Shandin Hills Drive, Marshall Boulevard, Highland Avenue, Baseline Street
  • Day Work: Mon. – Fri. 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
  • Night Work: Mon. – Fri. from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. nightly
  • Specifics: Storm drain activities, and platform structure activities such as pouring slab, forming walls and erecting structure steel, irrigation activities
  • LANE CLOSURE: Traffic control in effect at some locations. 


About sbX

The sbX BRT Project is the first-of-its kind express service to be constructed in the Inland Empire. It is the beginning of an intermodal public transit system in the San Bernardino Valley that will help reduce vehicle congestion while providing the public an environmentally friendly alternative that is sophisticated, cost effective, and time efficient.

The 15.7-mile corridor spans between northern San Bernardino and Loma Linda. It will include 16 art-inspired stations at key university, government, business, entertainment and medical centers as well as four park-and-ride facilities.

Visit the Omnitrans sbX Facebook page!
http://facebook.com/omnitrans.sbx

Paper model of the sbX rapid transit bus


Photos of this paper model shows the paint schemes of the front, rear and sides of the sbX rapid transit bus, the New Flyer Xcelsior 60. Note the advanced air conditioning unit on top; three sets of doors on the curbside; and two sets of doors on the driver’s (platform) side. Click photos for larger view.



Rider Alert: Detour for Route 8

Route 8 will have to detour due to construction on the westbound trip. Detour is in effect until approximately 3:00 p.m.

From Lugonia:

  • Right on Dearborn
  • Left on San Bernardino
  • Left on Church
  • Right on Lugonia
  • Resume normal route

San Bernardino Transit Center: a closer look

Please click photo above for expanded view.

Several of you were interested in a a closer look at the site plan for the San Bernardino Transit Center, so we’re posting a more detailed version. Keep in mind that these plans are only 15% and are subject to change. The design and construction is being managed by the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG). Construction is tentatively set to begin in June 2013. The project is expected to be open by September 2014, but the bus bays will be open by January 2014 for transfers with sbX.

Right now the building is about 17,000 square feet and will include:

  • Customer service area
  • Public restrooms
  • Security
  • Operator break room and restrooms
  • Public meeting rooms and training center
  • Two small retail spaces (empty shells)
  • Maintenance area
  • Bike center (with secure bike parking, repairs, and possible short-term rentals)

What do you think of the plans for the new transit center?

A view from the Omnitrans bus yard

It’s a beautiful day in San Bernardino! Snapped a few photos of the bus yard this morning to share. Click the pictures for a full size view.

Omnitrans awarded $5.3 million for transit center

Click photo for larger view.

Draft plan for the San Bernardino Transit Center. The design and construction of the transit center project is being led by the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG). 

In a press release today, Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) congratulated Omnitrans on its award of a $5.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), for the construction of a new bus facility in San Bernardino, California. The funding, which is part of the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus Livability grants program, will be used to construct a 22 bus bay complex as part of the San Bernardino Transit Center.

“I congratulate Omnitrans for their efforts in securing this critical federal grant assistance,” said Rep. Baca. “I was proud to lend my support to this responsible grant request. Construction of a new bus bay at the San Bernardino Transit Center will help to reduce congestion for Inland residents, and improve the overall quality of life in our communities.”

The San Bernardino Transit Center will use the awarded funds to construct a bus facility comprised of 22 bus bays with shelters and real-time bus arrival information for passengers. The facility will also include a transit station building with public restrooms and meeting rooms, a bike station with secure bike parking and short-term rental services, food vending, bike and pedestrian paths, public art, and street improvements.

Rep. Baca sent a letter of support to the Department of Transportation in March of 2012, urging the Federal Transit Administration to successfully award Omnitrans’ grant request.

“Better investment in our nation’s infrastructure is imperative to the success of our economic recovery,” concluded Rep. Baca. “This funding will improve public transportation for all area residents, while also helping to get more cars off the road to ease congestion and improve air quality for Inland residents. I will continue to work so that Inland communities have access to vital grant assistance made available by the federal government.”