Paul Castillo has been fascinated by public transit since he was 5-years-old. “As a child it made a big impression on me,” he admits. “Planes, trains, buses–I loved them all. My mom never drove a car, so we took the bus wherever we went. In school when they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, I always wanted to be a bus driver.”
Eventually he realized his dream and became a coach operator, driving buses for LA’s Metro Transit. “LA is very different from the Inland Empire. It’s like a jungle. There is tons of traffic which make it challenging to stay on time point. Passengers are generally rushed and often cranky. It’s a busy job. You really have to stay on your toes and be aware of your surroundings. You learn to keep your cool, and remain courteous and professional at all times. What I like best about being a coach operator is that you’re outdoors–not stuck in a cubicle all day. And you get to meet all kinds of interesting people.”
During the past year that he’s lived in San Bernardino, Omnitrans has been Paul’s primary form of transportation. He is currently out of work and is finding it helpful in his job searches. “I ‘m not as familiar with this area, so I go on the trip planner section of the Omnitrans site to do Google Transit searches. This way I can see right away how far away a business is, how long the travel time will be and what routes I would need to take in order to get there.”
His goal is to take a position with another transit agency, eventually working his way up to a trainer or management position. “I’d love the opportunity to work for Omnitrans, actually. I like the buses, and I’ve had good experiences riding the routes here. The passengers are much more laid back than in LA, and the coach operators have been very courteous and helpful.”
Paul is a 10 year member of Southern California Transit Advocates, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion, development and improvement of public transportation in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. He likes being around others who share his interests and enjoys the occasional group excursions to various transit agencies to learn firsthand about the ridership, buses and services.
–Juno Kughler Carlson
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