Category Archives: Bus Ridership

Look who dumped the pump!

On Thursday, June 2oth, more than 2,458 people dumped the pump to ride Omnitrans. Why? Some of their answers might surprise you. Take a look at this slideshow of some of our rider’s responses below.

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Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Q & A with a Planner

Planning project manager Anna Rahtz recently received the Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter award. Anna managed the Omnitrans Transit Design Guidelines project, which has earned the Focused Issue Planning Award from the American Planning Association – Inland Empire Section. We recently caught up with her to ask her a few questions about the guidelines, upcoming projects and her personal use of public transit.

Can you talk a little bit about what was involved with the transit design guidelines?

“The Omnitrans Transit Design Guidelines was the brainchild of our planning director, Rohan Kuruppu, and I worked on it as the project manager. It is basically a combination of our Bus Stop Design Guidelines document as well as a ‘lessons learned’ guide based on our experience with the sbX corridor in San Bernardino and Loma Linda. We always get lots of questions when the cities are trying to plan their future corridors or put in bus stops. They want to know how much space is needed, how long is the bus stop, how wide is the sidewalk, what are the ADA requirements. We also get lots of questions about the bus rapid transit (BRT) stations–how much space does it take up and how do you fit it into the street cross section?

Our consultants, Parsons Gruen, and MIG, took everything they had learned from working on the sbX project and compiled it into a toolkit. Now when designers, consultants, developers, city staff or others have questions about how to make these things work, they can refer to this toolkit for answers. City staff has already made a lot of use of it because cities like Highland, Ontario, and Fontana are doing their own BRT studies now. They’ve been able to integrate it into what they’re planning instead of reinventing the wheel.

Right now the Omnitrans Transit Design Guidelines is a PDF document, but we’re working on setting it up as an online interactive tool as well.”

What do you like best about being a planning project manager?

“I actually think I enjoy the smaller projects the most because they are more tangible and can be completed in a faster time frame. Recently I worked with several cities and our planning interns Allison and Alvaro to complete a grant application for SANBAG funds to improve pedestrian access to bus stops, including replacing and constructing new sidewalks.  Improving pedestrian infrastructure is extremely important.

Anna Rahtz and Omnitrans Planning Director Rohan Kuruppu

Can you tell us a little about any major upcoming projects?

“One of the main projects we will be kicking off in the next couple of months is the route 61 corridor through Pomona, Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana.

The current 61 is our highest ridership corridor with more than 6,000 boardings a day. We’re looking at ways to speed it up because it currently takes about an hour and a half to go from one end of the corridor to the other. There are 92 stops in the 20 miles.

Our consultants Parsons are doing an alternatives analysis so we can determine the best way to tackle the issue. One of the biggest criteria for federal funding is cost effectiveness. So we look at what the cost would be of various measures we could use, such as transit signal priority, dedicated bus lanes, or just reducing the number of stops. The corridor could also be developed in phases–maybe by incorporating a limited stop express bus and later transitioning to bus rapid transit. We look at the cost of all these things and how it would impact both ridership and the movement of traffic along the corridor.”

Why not just put another bus in service on the corridor?

“Frequency helps a lot, but we also have to focus on decreasing the amount of time it takes for the bus to get through the corridor because, as traffic congestion worsens, our buses slow down. Alternatives like dedicated bus lanes and traffic signal priority help the buses move much more quickly.”

I know you regularly use public transit yourself. Do you feel it’s important for you to do that? Is it a personal or professional choice?

“Both. I’ve always taken transit whenever I could ever since I was in grad school.  As a student, I was dependent on the bus. I don’t really like driving a whole lot to begin with, and driving is getting more and more expensive.  So I think it’s really important to have options. I prefer riding my bicycle, taking the bus, or both, whenever possible. I find that bus riders are like a community, and the people are generally pretty courteous to each other.

As a transit planner, I do think you have to be a rider in order to understand how a rider experiences the system. I find I am constantly taking my observations as a rider and applying them to my planning projects. That’s why all of us in the planning department ride all the routes in the system regularly.

Do you use NexTrip when you’re traveling?

“Yes. It’s actually been working out for me very well. I can use it to see when the next bus is arriving at the stop so I know how long I have to wait for a transfer. Then I can decide whether it’s faster to catch the bus there or if I should bike over to an alternative stop instead. It’s a huge help to be able to access live bus information from your phone. ”

 

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

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

Omnitrans Launches Live Bus PredictionTechnology

(San Bernardino, CA)— Wonder when the next bus is due to arrive at your bus stop? Up-to-the-minute, accurate answers are at your fingertips with Omnitrans’ new NexTrip technology!  Now you can text, click or call to access real-time information.

Riders can access NexTrip real-time bus information via mobile web browser, desktop computer, SMS/text, or calling 1-800-9-OMNIBUS and selecting the NexTrip option. Online, customers can view buses and stops on a route map with real-time tracking. They even can sign up for automatic alerts, such as notification when the bus is five minutes away!

Omnitrans CEO/General Manager Milo Victoria was instrumental in bringing the new technology to Omnitrans. “We introduced this in D. C., while I was at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and our riders absolutely loved it. So, I promised our Board we would implement it at Omnitrans,” he said.

To use NexTrip, customers simply provide their bus stop location information by bus route, direction and intersection or an Omnitrans bus stop number, located on all bus stop signs. GPS-enabled phones can automatically provide information for the closest bus stop.  Omnitrans will install new signs with complete NexTrip contact information in mid-2013.  The signs will feature a QR code riders can scan, providing yet another option to access arrival times.

A small group of Omnitrans customers tested the system in early January and gave NexTrip rave reviews.  “I like knowing almost exactly when the next bus was coming to my stop.” said hospice volunteer Krystal Wheeler of San Bernardino.   “The text system is very easy to use. It helps me pace my walk after work so I’m not spending a lot of time standing around at the stop,” said Chaffey College student Marcus Garcia of Chino Hills.

In 2014, Omnitrans will roll out NexTrip electronic message signs on all 23 station platforms on the agency’s sbX bus rapid transit line, now under construction in San Bernardino and Loma Linda.  Real-time information signs will be added to major transfer centers in the Omnitrans system as well.

The NexTrip system uses Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking satellites and advanced computer modeling developed by Nextbus, Inc. of Emeryville, California to provide accurate arrival information for all 2,500 bus stops in the Omnitrans fixed route bus system.  Taking into account the actual location of the buses, their intended stops, and the typical traffic patterns, NexTrip estimates arrivals with a high degree of accuracy.

For more information go to: www.omnitrans.org/nextrip

Prefer a mobile app? You can also find NexTrip information by downloading  the “My Nextbus” app to your android device or “iNextbus” to your Apple device.

Questions?  Email Wendy.Williams@omnitrans.org

Travel Training Eases New Rider Anxiety

“Omnitrans is important to me because it’s my only transportation. I rely on it for everything–doctor’s appointments, going to the store, basically anywhere I need to go,” said Barbara Cohen, a 65-year-old Rialto resident and regular bus passenger.

For the past 25 years, Barbara has been confined to a power-chair due to a disability. At first she relied on Access demand-response service for persons with disabilities, but eventually found it was too expensive to use regularly. Instead of paying $2.75 per trip for Access, she now buys a 10-pack of fixed route fares for Senior/Disabled riders at only $15.50 which lasts her the entire month.

Making the move from the Access Bus to a fixed route service felt overwhelming and a bit intimidating to Barbara at first. To help her make the transition, she decided to sign up for a travel training class with Vtrans, an agency that provides individual travel training services to seniors and those with disabilities . With the help of an instructor, she was able to practice how to safely board and disembark the bus, how to secure her chair, and how to use the farebox. She also learned how to plan a route, identify landmarks, make stops and transfers and how to communicate any special needs t0 her bus driver.

“It really helped me to feel more confident because I knew firsthand what to expect,” said Barbara. “I recommend travel training to all first time riders–especially powerchair users.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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 Kughler Carlson at  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

January Bus Book & Service Changes

The Omnitrans January 2013 Bus Book  is now available and features new service changes that will take effect on January 7th. 

  • Route 66:  Minor changes have been made to the weekday schedule, with the 5:24 westbound AM trip at Foothill and Grove adjusted for easier transfers to the Foothill Silver Streak.
  • Route 82:  Minor changes have been made to the weekday and weekend schedules.
  • Route 365:  The first two morning trips leaving Chino Transit Center have been shifted by 10 minutes on weekend service.

For more details, view our online version.  Print copies of the new bus book will be distributed to our buses tomorrow, December 28th.

sbX To Make Students “Choice” Riders

For the past three weeks, Ontario resident Brian Kennedy has gotten on board Route 2 from E Street and Highland Avenue to get to his classes at California State University, San Bernardino, after catching a ride from his stepmother who works in another part of town.

Brian Kennedy

Now that he’s through with finals for the fall quarter, the 19-year-old freshman is seriously considering making public transit to campus a regular habit – especially once the future Omnitrans sbX Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service begins operations in 2014.

“It makes so much more sense,” he said. “To pay for a parking permit, only to circle around the lot trying to find a place to park is not very efficient. Omnitrans saves me time and money.”

The additional convenience and time saved with sbX will be realized by frequent service (every 10 minutes) and fewer stops (once a mile, on average), which will cut Brian’s commute time nearly in half. To learn more about sbX BRT, visit the project website at www.omnitrans-sbx.com.

– David Rutherford
David.Rutherford@Omnitrans.org

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!

sbX to Complement Route 2 VA Service

The sbX station at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda will feature color seals depicting each branch of the Armed Forces on glass panels.

When construction for the Omnitrans sbX is complete and service begins in early 2014, veterans and staff traveling to the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center (VA Hospital) will benefit from a new station at Barton Road and Benton Street.

Artist rendering of the structural monument that will be located at the sbX VA Loma Linda station.

Like all 16 stations along the 15.7-mile sbX corridor, it will include public art. At the VA Hospital, the station artwork pays tribute to our armed forces by displaying the seals of each military branch. There will also be a structural monument that will have an American flag and dog tags spiraling down the flag pole.

Currently, Omnitrans serves many our veterans in the region each day by providing them with dependable and affordable public transportation. Whether commuting to work or school, going to medical appointments, or traveling to veterans’ service organizations, Omnitrans is committed to meeting veteran ridership needs – and the future sbX service will do just that.

Richard Curtis, U.S. Army (Ret.)

“To tell you the truth, I’d rather ride Omnitrans than ride a car,” said Richard Curtis, U.S. Army veteran and former Vietnam POW. “The bus drivers are always courteous and friendly. It’s pretty efficient and I can always make my appointments on time.”

The new sbX service will reduce travel time along the corridor as it will stop at one-mile intervals versus fixed route service that stops approximately every one-third of a mile. Additionally, the specialized sbX buses will have traffic priority signalization technology that allows it to
communicate

Levi Lane, U.S. Navy (Ret.), served on the USS Kitty Hawk.

with traffic management systems so that as buses approach intersections, the signal will keep the green and yellow light on longer so that it can pass through safely.

Riders like Navy veteran Levi Lane, who combine public bus transit with cycling, will also benefit from the sbX line’s interior bike racks. “I bike or take Omnitrans wherever I have to go. It’s good to have the bus to fall back on whenever you need it,” said Lane.

Robin Bose, a 17-year Omnitrans Coach Operator, was a helicopter crew chief in the U.S. Army.

There will be two interior bike racks that will accommodate four bikes apiece. In addition, the front of the sbX bus has fold-up seats to accommodate up to four wheelchairs.

Employing Our Veterans

Once construction of the sbX line is completed, it will be turned over to Omnitrans for service and operation. Omnitrans is privileged to have 90 employees who are also military veterans. Just as they served our country in a variety of ways, these veterans are deployed in a variety of roles at Omnitrans,

Diane Caldera served 29 years in the Air Force and is currently a Major in the Active Reserve. She joined Omnitrans in 2005 as a coach operator and is now an Assistant Transportation Manager.

from Coach Operator to Equipment Mechanic, Department Director and more. One employee is currently on active duty and two are on active reserve. Omnitrans is proud to employ our veterans and looks forward to providing sbX service to veterans to the VA Hospital in Loma Linda.

–David Rutherford
David.Rutherford@omnitrans.org