Monthly Archives: September 2012

Rideshare saves money and grows friendships

Omnitrans employees Scot Huffman and Mark Crosby have been ridesharing for the past 4 1/2 years. Each of them saves around $100 a month in gas and having a friend along for the ride makes the time go by quickly.

“We eat lunch together on our breaks and one day the topic of ridesharing came up in conversation,” said Scot. “At first we weren’t sure we wanted to do it. But as it turned out, we were a great fit. We live in the same city and work similar hours. We also don’t have to go out of our way to drive to each other’s homes. My grandson and Mark’s son both go to the same preschool so it’s very convenient for us to meet there. It works out well.”

Mark, who is a member of the Omnitrans Green Team, also likes the fact they are helping the environment. “We’re putting one less car on the road and taking up one less space in the parking lot. And it definitely saves us money because it’s one less tank of gas a month that each of us has to buy and less wear and tear on our vehicles.”

Sharing the daily commute has also helped cement a friendship between the two men, who are now friends first and co-workers second. They share similar hobbies and interests, have gotten to know each other’s families and have even gone camping together.

Rideshare contests offered by the IE511 each year are an added bonus. Last year Mark won a $100 Best Buy gift card in the drawing. To learn more about how you can get involved with Rideshare visit http://www.ie511.org.  Pledge to Rideshare during California Rideshare Week (October 1-5) and you’ll be entered for a chance to win great prizes like an Apple iPad, overnights at a resort hotel, dinner for two, gift cards and much more.

Omnitrans FREE Ride Coupon
Celebrate Rideshare Week with a free ride on us! Simply download and print the Free Ride coupon from our website. Turn it in to your bus driver who will exchange it for one FREE Day Pass good for unlimited rides for one day only on our fixed-route buses between October 1 and 5. Visit our website at www.omnitrans.org for more details.

Free Ride Coupon AND a chance at prizes!

Rideshare Week is October 1st through 5th, and Omnitrans is celebrating with two great offers.

FREE Ride Coupon
Celebrate Rideshare Week with a free ride on us! Simply download and print the Free Ride coupon from our website. Turn it in to your bus driver who will exchange it for one FREE Day Pass good for unlimited rides for one day only on our fixed-route buses between October 1 and 5. Visit our website at www.omnitrans.org for more details.

Rideshare Prize Drawing
Passengers will want to take advantage of this exclusive offer just for our Facebook fans. Enter your name in our prize drawing between now and October 5th and you could be the winner of one of these fabulous prizes!

  • 1st Prize – an Omnitrans baseball cap & pin and a 31-Day Bus Pass
  • 2nd Prize – an Omnitrans baseball cap & pin and a 7-Day Bus Pass
  • 3rd Prize –  an Omnitrans baseball cap & pin and a free 1-Day Bus

Winners will be announced on Friday, October 5th. Join our Facebook community for photos, stories, behind-the-scenes info and other exclusive offers as they become available.

Ironworker proud of role in sbX construction

Ivan Ventura fastens a canopy roof frame of the Highland St. Station to a platform post

Ivan Ventura grew up in Rialto but his heart – and his home – are in San Bernardino. During the day, the 24-year-old ironworker can be seen along the Omnitrans sbX corridor mounting canopy frames at station platforms throughout northern San Bernardino. At the end of the day, he heads home to be with his family in a house he recently purchased in northern San Bernardino, not far from Glen Helen Regional Park.

“This is the ideal job for me,” Ventura said. “You can’t always choose where to work, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

It wasn’t always this easy for him. Fresh out of a four-month apprenticeship with Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 416 of La Palma, one of Ventura’s first assignments was nearly 200 miles away, at a solar power plant construction project near Primm, Nevada, where he was involved with installing panels. Ventura is proud to be a part of the team constructing the first of 10 planned BRT corridors in the San Bernardino Valley.

“It’s a matter of civic pride,” he said. “As long as people take care of it and it stays free of graffiti and other symbols of urban decay, I think it will really help bring this city back.”

In a city with an unemployment rate of 16.6 percent, according to the July 2012 report from the California Employment Development Department, Ventura is one resident fortunate to have remained gainfully employed throughout his young adult life. That’s important because the sbX project has created more than 200 jobs. About one-third of those jobs are occupied by residents of San Bernardino County.

–David Rutherford

About sbX
The sbX Bus Rapid Transit (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

Rider overcomes her fear of public transit

In 1988, Renee Compton became disabled due to a stroke and brain tumor that left her wheelchair bound. Unable to drive any longer, she grew increasingly isolated and depressed, seldom leaving her home.

Finally in 2002, she connected with Behavior Health in Rialto, and her world completely changed. “They encouraged me to use my office skills to help others by volunteering with the organization,” said Renee. “So I did. For the past ten years I’ve been teaching word processing and Microsoft computer programs to people. I love it. It makes me feel needed. And I enjoy helping people who want to learn.”

In order to get back and forth between her home and volunteer job, Renee had to take the bus, something she had been avoiding. “It was scary for me,” she admitted, “I was worried about having to deal with strange people. But I made myself get on board. And then I rode again the next day and the next. Now I ride the bus all the time. I even have my favorite drivers who are always very courteous and polite. Because my wheelchair doesn’t have straps, it takes a little longer to buckle in. But these particular drivers never become impatient with me and always take the time to help.”

Renee recently had the opportunity to ride on of the new Omnitrans Xcelsior buses on the Route 14.  She was excited by its spacious feel. “I thought the new bus was neat! It felt big and roomy, and the wider aisles make it easier for me to get the wheelchair on board. I’m looking forward to riding it again.”

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Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

CSUSB Station Construction Nears Completion

Omnitrans’ fixed-route buses have returned to their original stops on University Pkwy.

Just in time for the start of the new school year, construction crews for the Griffith/Comet Joint Venture are wrapping up work on the new road and station platform for the sbX bus rapid transit service that will begin serving California State University, San Bernardino in early 2014.

During the past few months of construction of the sbX project on campus, Omnitrans fixed route buses were moved to two separate locations on campus. Temporary stops were located along sidewalks near the campus bookstore and near the recreational center at the end of Coyote Drive, while crews worked on tree and landscape removals grading and paving of a road that leads up to the new station platform near the information kiosk on University Parkway. Now that most of the work has been completed buses have been allowed to return to their original stops on the turnaround.

Crews will continue working on electrical and other construction activities at the platform beyond the September 24 start of the fall quarter. The good news is that construction-related impacts will be minor to campus visitors as traffic control measures will be in place to keep vehicles safely away from workers.

VTrans offers free travel training program

Are you interested in riding the bus, but aren’t sure how? Let VTrans help you navigate public transportation.

VTrans offers a no–cost, one-on-one Travel Training program for seniors and persons with disabilities to assist them with learning how to use public transportation. Professionally skilled Travel Trainers will meet with you at home or another location to discuss where you want to go and your uncertainty with riding the bus.

Travel Training will show you how to plan out a route, get to the bus stop safely, pay the bus fare, identify landmarks, transfer to other buses, and proper bus etiquette. They will also accompany you on your route until you feel comfortable to take the trip on your own.

During training, the cost of bus fare is free to you and they will provide you with an incentive to continue riding the bus after training. Their trainers are familiar with various disabilities and will work with you to overcome barriers to riding public transportation. Group training is available to those interested in traveling with their friends.

Let VTrans show you how riding public transportation can work for you! Call them today to speak with a mobility specialist who can help you get to where you want to go. For more information please call  909-981-5099 or visit them on the web at www.vtrans.us.com.

Old Blue at the Route 66 Rendezvous

Our beloved Old Blue was shined up and decked out with lights at the Route 66 Rendezvous over the weekend. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to climb aboard and say hello!

The Story of Old Blue

In 1998, Omnitrans began the search for an antique bus to be used for special events. The goal was to purchase and restore the vehicle in time for the agency’s 25th Anniversary in 2001. Omnitrans found Old Blue, a 1958 vintage GMC transit coach, in the care of a bus collector in New Jersey in 1999, and purchased it for $2,500. The agency has since learned that the bus began its life in service for the Los Angeles Regional Transit District, so it was actually brought “back home” to Southern California – via flatbed truck, since Old Blue wasn’t in very good shape when Omnitrans acquired it.

Work on the bus began in 1999, with major restoration efforts really getting underway in 2000. Old Blue needed a lot of TLC, and Omnitrans employees worked both on and off the clock to make necessary mechanical repairs. Once that was complete, the Maintenance Department asked some special vendors to help give the bus a much-needed facelift. McCray’s provided a new paint job, Complete Coach Works renovated Old Blue’s seats, Transit Care provided new window glass, and Firestone donated new tires.

Finally, Omnitrans selected a special coach number for the bus: 5876. The first two numbers represent Old Blue’s model year, and the final two represent the year Omnitrans was born, 1976.

At last, in February 2001, Old Blue debuted as the Omnitrans 25th Anniversary mascot. Old Blue has been the hit of community events both large and small, from local holiday parades to San Bernardino’s Route 66 Rendezvous, an event that draws nearly half a million auto enthusiasts each year.

Save $77 with an Omnitrans 31-Day Pass

One of big reasons people choose to ride public transit is the money they save in car maintenance and gas.

But did you know that regular riders can save even more money by buying a 31-Day Bus Pass? It’s a discount of 61% over our daily full fare!

And when measured against other local bus agencies, Omnitrans is still the best value around at $47. In comparison, Riverside Transit Agency‘s 30-Day Pass is $50, while LA County Metropolitan Transit Authority‘s is $75.

So take advantage of our 31-Day Pass discount. Think of all the cool things you could do with that $77 you’ll save over daily fares!

Agency
Daily
Monthly Pass
Savings
Omnitrans
$4
$47 (31-Days)
61%
RTA
$4
$50 (30-Days)
58%
LA Metro
$5
$75 (30 Days)
38%

Omnitrans supports Heart and Lung Walks

Omnitrans employees Nicole Ramos and Tembi Morales volunteer in a fundraiser to benefit the Inland Empire Heart Walk and the Fight for Air Walk.

This year several Omnitrans employees are literally talking steps to make a difference in  people’s lives by supporting two great causes: The Inland Empire Heart Walk and the Fight for Air Walk.

“This is my sixth year participating in the Fight for Air Walk,” said Omnitrans Community Outreach Specialist, Nicole Ramos. “Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 each year. Those are staggering stats!  The money we raise goes, not only for lung cancer research, but also to help kids suffering from asthma and those battling chronic lung disease. My son has asthma, so it’s especially important to me. We’re walking to change lives.”

For employees like Administrative Secretary, Tembi Morales, making the walk holds personal significance. “I’m participating in the Heart Walk in honor of my Dad, Manuel Michael Morales who passed away due to heart failure in August 2005. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. I miss him every day and wish that he was still here. The money I raise for the walk will go to the American Heart Association to assist them in their efforts to fight heart disease and raise awareness for taking care of your heart! I love you Dad!”

In addition to the two walks, several Omnitrans employees have participated in volunteer fundraisers for the Heart and Lung Associations, including holding a popcorn sale, taking paper heart donations and selling Red Dress pins. All proceeds from their activities are split 50/50 between the two organizations.

Omnitrans invites you to join us in showing your support for these two great causes by participating as a team member or donor. For more information, please visit the websites by clicking the links below.

The Inland Empire Heart Walk
The American Heart Association
October 13, 2012
Fairmont Park in Riverside

The Fight for Air Walk
The American Lung Association
November 3, 2012
Fairmont Park in Riverside

Do you like this story and want to use it for your blog or newsletter? All our stories may be freely re-posted and shared with others!

Do you have a great Omnitrans story to share? Let us know!
Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

From jungle to city, Omnitrans rider loves to travel

Omnitrans customer Jennie Aceves loves to travel, from daily trips around the city to exploring the world. Her favorite experience was a trip to Guatemala where she worked for a time as a missionary.

“I loved being able to hike through the jungle and swim in the lake with the fish,” said Jenny. “It was beautiful, and I liked the feeling of making a difference. I was in charge of the youth group and some of the elderly there and it was my job to make sure they were all served hot meals each day. Being in that environment makes you appreciate what you have, and I feel very blessed with the life I’ve been given.”

When her car broke down two years ago, Jennie decided it was just too expensive to buy and maintain another vehicle. She was comfortable with public transit and had been riding Omnitrans off and on since she was in high school simply because it was so convenient. Making the switch to being a full-time rider seemed the obvious choice. She would still be able to easily get to all her normal destinations and for much less than it used to cost her in gas!

“My favorite thing about Omnitrans is how easy it is to transfer. I almost never have to wait long between buses because of the way the schedules are set up. I can usually get to wherever destination I need within a half hour to an hour total travel time. It’s convenient for me.”

This week Jennie was one of the first passengers to ride one of the twenty new Xcelsior model buses that Omnitrans has added to its fleet. She was impressed. “The new bus was really nice,” said Jennie. “It felt very spacious and comfortable. And I like that Omnitrans is keeping up with the times to provide good, efficient transportation that is also healthy for the environment.”

Do you like this story and want to use it for your blog or newsletter? All our stories may be freely re-posted and shared with others!

Do you have a great Omnitrans story to share? Let us know!
Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org