Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Alex Chen

Omnitrans photo of Employee of the Quarter Alex Chen by photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Alex Chen

Omnitrans Database Administrator Alex Chen is at his most comfortable behind a computer, writing code or troubleshooting databases.

“I’m a programmer,” he shrugs with a big smile. “I love my job. It’s just what I do best.”

Maybe that’s why he was so surprised to learn he had been selected as Employee of the Quarter.

There were a lot of reasons he was a good candidate.

Alex developed the Transit Screen system for the San Bernardino Transit Center, implementing Nextrip and E-sign for the project.

Employee of the Quarter Alex Chen

Omnitrans IT Director Jacob Harms, CEO P. Scott Graham, Employee of the Quarter Alex Chen & Board Chair Sam Spagnolo

He was also project lead for the massive update of the agency’s Procurement SAP system. His responsibilities included building the program, testing for quality assurance, and, finally, implementation.

“This was a huge project,” he explains. “And it affected purchases for every department. Because it involved such extensive upgrades, much of the work had to be done at night or on holidays when no one was on the network. I even spent Thanksgiving and Christmas here to make sure everything was functioning correctly. I don’t mind it. It comes with the job in IT, and I enjoy what I do.”

Luckily his wife understands the demands of his work.  The couple has two houses, one in San Gabriel and one in San Bernardino. During the week he stays here in the city to be close to the office, and on weekends he drives the 50 mile commute home.

“We Facetime a lot on our iPads,” he chuckles. “In some ways it’s great because we don’t argue or get on each other’s nerves. We get to do whatever we like during the week and enjoy our time together on the weekend. It works out well. I feel very free to do whatever I need to do for the job.”

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Alex’s knowledge and expertise has made him an invaluable resource, not only for IT, but for other departments as well.

“Alex is a wizard at taking our data requests from various internal data systems and combining them into usable reports so we can make business decisions,” says Service Planning Manager Jeremiah Bryant. “It’s been extremely helpful on a number of projects.”

Troubleshooting the NexTrip bus arrival system information has been the toughest problem Alex has had to face over the past quarter.

“Our complex IT system incorporates multiple outside programs, as well as those we custom develop in-house,” says Omnitrans IT Director Jacob Harms. “This means that we’re pulling data from multiple sources for NexTrip, which can cause glitches. If TransitMaster were as reliable as Alex’s interface programs, we wouldn’t have issues with missing or incorrect NexTrip predictions.

“The real value that Alex brings to Omnitrans is his ability to quickly take a customer (Omnitrans or public) need and utilize existing resources to develop his own custom solution.  A great example of this was the sbX pulse system.

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“When the sbX route was first implemented, Omnitrans wanted to use a free running system with set intervals for scheduling rather than a set schedule.

“Although this was requested months prior to the new services launch, our vendor was unable to provide a solution in time.  In just a matter of weeks, Alex was able to create his own custom solution, involving an in-house built program pulling location data from our TransitMaster databases and relaying that to a network of cell phones that we installed on the buses.  Now the solution itself was rather simple. But without Alex and his ability to quickly create and implement custom programs, this would not have been possible.”

Alex’s dependability, innovative problem-solving, ability to successfully create highly customized solutions, and willingness to go above and beyond to assist others make him an invaluable part of the Omnitrans team. We are proud to honor him as our Employee of the Quarter.

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