Category Archives: Employee Profile

Employees of the Quarter, Keith Lembach and Dan Olaru

sbX Field Supervisor Keith Lembach believes that safety is not just the Coach Operator’s job – it should be everybody’s priority. It is his commitment to passenger safety that earned him the recognition of the Omnitrans Board of Directors as our Employee of the Quarter, in partnership with Body Shop Technician Dan Olaru.

“I always ask people, ‘How many people do you want to see injured today?’ says Keith. “If the answer is more than zero, you need to go home. It’s all of our jobs to promote safety.”

Employees of the Quarter Keith Lembach (center left) and Dan Nelu (center right) are recognized by (from the left) CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham and Board of Directors Chair Ron Dailey at May’s meeting.

Prior to joining Omnitrans two and a half years ago, Keith had acquired 37 years of valuable transportation experience. This includes years driving private charter buses and trucks. As a trucker, he accumulated two million accident-free miles – a remarkable feat in safe driving.

Just prior to Omnitrans, Keith served as safety manager for a transportation company. Seeking to turn around their dissatisfactory safety record, the company asked him to takeover as director of the program.

A desired change in career led Keith to Omnitrans, where he enjoys being out in our service area and interacting with our drivers and passengers. “I enjoy that every day is different. You can’t script this job. Every driver is different, every passenger is different,” he shares.

While driving sbX one day, Keith heard a loud crash near the back of the bus. Immediately, he paused the bus and noticed that a bike had slid all the way to the front of the bus from the bike holding area.

“I walked back and told the passenger that the bike had to be secured onboard. He said that it had been strapped in properly, but that the Velcro straps weren’t strong enough to hold the bike and that it fell out of the storage area,” he explains.

sbX Field Supervisor Keith Lembach begins his day at 5:30 a.m., helping to start the coaches and monitoring bus pullouts as service begins for the day. He checks for mechanical and farebox issues and helps them get resolved as service on the street is a time-sensitive matter.

Keith methodically assessed the bike straps and noticed that they were worn out and unable to hold the bike in any way. During subsequent ride checks, he noticed bikes tipping, falling, or coming completely unstrapped out of the metal racks. He saw the potential danger to passengers and to their property, and took a proactive approach to mitigating the hazard.

“Keith came into the Maintenance office in the body shop and talked to the supervisors about the trouble that he’d run into on sbX with bike racks,” says Body Shop Technician Dan Olaru.

“They asked him to come see me. From there, we walked the bus and he told me what he wanted to achieve. About a week later, I started work on a prototype, which I finished in the same day. We installed it on a bus, and about a month and a half later we were ready to create bike racks for the entire sbX fleet.”

By trial-and-error, Keith and Dan determined the exact measurements of the new sbX bike storage racks. They readjusted heights several times to ensure bikes of all sizes fit without issue. Once the final prototype was tested, no matter how fast the bus accelerated or stopped, the bikes were not going anywhere.

Dan, a 20-year employee of Omnitrans and now two-time Employee of the Quarter, methodically employed his creativity and self-taught skill to design, build, weld, and install a new solution to better serve our bike-riding passengers. He used existing parts from the old bike racks and implemented them into the design of our new, unique bike racks, minimizing the cost of the project.

Dan works to repair minor damage caused to a panel on the rear side of the bus. After sanding the area, he will fill the dents and scrapes, smooth them, and prime the panel before adding a fresh coat of paint.

“In 1989, I was approved for a visa to move to the United States from Romania which was under communist rule,” reveals Dan. “When I arrived, I worked for an asphalt company and then was hired at Omnitrans in 1997. I knew a little bit about body work from doing that on the side, but this is where my skills got much better.”

Now one of two body shop employees, Dan recalls a time in which there were six workers in the body shop. “Whenever we had a little downtime, I used to practice,” he recalls. “I learned a lot of what I know over the years by observing others and asking the right questions.”

“Dan’s ability to install the new racks with minimal changes to the bus is a work of art,” says Maintenance Supervisor Keith Hunt. “Each time, Dan goes above and beyond what was asked of him. We truly appreciate his work ethic and can-do attitude!”

“It’s a different thing to take on every day – challenging things,” says Dan. “But I like that. The challenges are why I am where I am in my career today. I like to see things that I’ve created with my own hands be implemented and approved of by the people around me and by our passengers.”

Employee of the Quarter Ed Cooney

Our dispatchers play a vital role at Omnitrans – they make sure our bus system delivers service by guiding coaches and operators through obstacles from detours to mechanical problems to customer service issues – every day!

Dispatcher Ed Cooney’s strong work ethic and problem-solving skills made him stand out among his peers during the October-December 2017, making him the Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter!

Ed describes the award as a surprising honor that he did not see coming. After 25 years working with Omnitrans, he views this place as his second home, where he is simply happy to be of service to his community through our dedicated drivers.

“I like the people and we’re family here, although sometimes dysfunctional, like any other family,” he laughs. “That’s one of the major motivators. I’ve been put in a position where I can help people, and that makes all the difference.”

After almost six years driving for Metro in Los Angeles, Ed’s adventurous side took over and he decided to go to Brazil where he worked for a year. After moving back home to the States and settling in Montclair, he spotted an Omnitrans bus and chatted with the driver about his job. He was persuaded, and decided to give Omnitrans a try. He switched directions and headed east, this time, on I-10 to apply for a job as a coach operator.

“This entire lot was all dirt,” reminisces Ed as we overlook the East Valley bus yard in San Bernardino. “There was a single bungalow that housed human resources, finance, the CEO. Everyone was in that one trailer. I remember the mechanics had dug a trench, and they would drive the bus over the trench to work on bus maintenance.”

Ed Cooney and a new dispatcher in training go over the Trapeze Ops software used for record-keeping.

As Omnitrans progressed, so did Ed’s career. After five years of driving our buses, he was promoted to a dispatching role in which he has served ever since. Last year, when his supervisor retired, Ed selflessly rose above and beyond his required work duties to take on tasks of the vacant supervisor role. While doing research, Ed discovered software configuration errors, and took the initiative to tackle them himself.

With only four days of informal training, Ed took on the task of solving this problem, working 12-hour days and weekends alongside his peers, I.T., and the software vendor. As a result of Ed’s initiative and manual improvements to the process, the agency was prevented from overspending $10,000.

“I still go in everyday and double check for errors,” he explains. “In this job, I’m not obligated to do this. I could’ve asked management to hire someone that could fix this, but I felt a responsibility to the operators so that things were operating as they should.”

This month, the Omnitrans Board of Directors recognized Ed as our Employee of the Quarter for his diligence in ensuring that the necessary improvements were made and tested prior to live implementation of the software.

“Ed is a recognized leader in the dispatch office and is greatly respected by his peers for his loyalty, ability, and willingness to help others in times of need,” says Director of Operations Diane Caldera. “His recognition as Employee of the Quarter is greatly deserved.”

Employee of the Quarter Ed Cooney (center) is congratulated by (from the left) Board of Directors Chair Ron Dailey and CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham.

“When I found out, I thought to myself, ‘Is there another Ed Cooney who works here?’ he recounts. “I think because I grew up in an environment where we didn’t get praise or appreciation, so when you do, it makes you feel a little awkward at first. But I appreciate Diane Caldera for nominating me and individually recognizing every dispatcher’s work. The morale has really been raised since she’s taken over.”

Travel and family time also are huge parts of Ed’s life. He recently visited Hawaii, and often flies to Brazil, which is where his wife hails from. He is a proud father to his two daughters, graduates of University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, Santa Barbara.

“I don’t have an R.V. because of tuition bills,” he jokes. “But I was so happy to win this award after 25 years of working here. I knew my loyalty to Omnitrans, which could be best described as canine in nature, would someday lead to this recognition!”

Omnitrans Employee of the Year 2017

Employee of the Quarter John Steffon (left) is presented with his award by CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham (right) and Board of Directors Chair Ron Dailey (center) at February’s board meeting.

As he prepares for retirement in just a few months, East Valley Transportation Manager John Steffon is definitely going out on a high note as Omnitrans recognizes him as the Employee of the Year for 2017!

Throughout the last year, John played a crucial role in keeping Omnitrans operations flowing smoothly during a time when numerous management positions were vacant in his department. John postponed his retirement as he took on duties of the West Valley Transportation Manager, East Valley Assistant Transportation Manager, and Dispatch Supervisor in addition to his own.

During this time, the operations department was able to increase our part-time driver roster to ensure that bus service needs were met for our community and to prevent our current coach operators from working overtime on their days off. John was instrumental to these efforts and the successful onboarding of new drivers as he managed many of the day-to-day functions of the department.

“Time management was tough,” admits John. “Some of your own work has to take a backseat to what really needs to be done then and there. This was the biggest challenge – trying to keep everything up to date from attendance, to handling all ATM duties, making sure all dispatch supervisor duties were being handled, and covering at West Valley if we needed to handle any disciplinary issues.”

Although John looks forward to retiring soon, he remains fully committed to our mission of connecting our community while he is still here. “It’s coming to an end and it’ll be time to move on in a few months. Omnitrans has been very good to me, and I come here every day with a smile on my face.”

Congratulations, John! Your dedication to your employees and to our passengers is valued and appreciated.

Meet the new Omnitrans interns!

Omnitrans is proud to introduce our three new interns! As these young professionals work toward their career goals, we are proud to be providing them with an enriching experience that will give them job skills that only can be obtained outside the classroom, and prepare them for the “real world.”

“Bringing new interns to Omnitrans makes them aware of how an organization works. They are able to obtain knowledge, skills, and abilities to bring added value to the table,” says Director of Human Resource Marjorie Ewing. “By providing this opportunity, we are giving students a paid internship, exposure, and the experience they need in seeking out their career goals.”

Get to know our interns:

Laura B., Emergency Preparedness Intern

Laura B., Colton, California
Emergency Preparedness Intern
Biology major (emphasis in Biotechnology) at Brigham Young University, Idaho

So far, what do you enjoy most about working at Omnitrans?
What I enjoy the most about working at Omnitrans is the many learning opportunities I experience as I tackle new projects. Each project has been different than the previous one which challenges me and keeps things very interesting.

What are your career goals?
My careers goals are to continue my education and obtain a master’s degree and doctorate degree in the field of nursing. I hope to achieve a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in order to work in roles of clinical practice-oriented leadership, managerial, or executive level positions.

How has your internship helped you get closer to achieving those career goals?
The Safety and Security team has taught me the importance of communicating and writing effectively by giving me the chance to formulate procedures, presentations, and processes. I am improving upon my time management skills by setting my own pace for timely completion of my projects. Not only am I brushing up on those skill sets, but am also gaining a lot of knowledge regarding emergency preparedness which will be very useful in my career as a nurse should I be called upon to assist when or if disaster strikes.

Hector E., Human Resources Intern

Hector E., Highland, California
Human Resources Intern
Business Administration major (emphasis in Human Resource Management) at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona

So far, what do you enjoy most about working at Omnitrans?
I enjoy how welcoming and helpful everyone has been. Everyone works well together as a team. Overall, I believe that Omnitrans is an amazing company to work for.

What are your career goals?
I plan on becoming a compensation analyst and eventually move up as a compensation manager. I plan on earning my Certified Compensation Professional Certification (CCP) and attending graduate school to obtain my Master of Business Administration degree with a specialization in Human Resource Management.

How has your internship helped you get closer to achieving those career goals?
My internship is helping me have a better understanding of all the different functions in HR. I am able to utilize what I have learned in class and apply it towards my daily duties. In addition, Omnitrans has provided a solid foundation of learning that will allow me to grow in my career.

Myles G., Rail Operations Intern

Myles G., Hesperia, California
Rail Operations Intern
Master of Science in Transportation Management at San Jose State University

So far, what do you enjoy most about working at Omnitrans?
I enjoy working with Director of Rail Operations Trischelle and Compliance Officer Loretta as they mentor and take me under their wing to not only show me the procedures and operations of rail, but also how to build a great railroad from the ground up which is what we are doing in preparation for the Arrow launch.

What are your career goals?
My career goals are to further myself in the rail industry, whether it be in the public transit sector or working with freight rail. This is an excellent starting point to broaden my knowledge and get familiar with all elements of the transportation industry, specifically in rail.

How has your internship helped you get closer to achieving those career goals?
My internship has helped me get closer to my career goals first and foremost by getting my foot in the industry and giving me opportunities to network heavily with other transportation and railroad professionals.

For current internship opportunities at Omnitrans, and other jobs available, please visit Omnitrans.org!

Omnitrans Hires Deputy General Manager Erin Rogers

We are honored to welcome to the Omnitrans family the newest member of the executive team: Deputy General Manager Erin Rogers!

A Syracuse, New York native and resident of Tustin, Erin joins Omnitrans with nearly 30 years of experience in the transit industry. Her journey began in Boston, where she first worked as a paratransit manager at DAVE Transportation Services.

Erin spent 16 years working for the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), including 10 as assistant general manager. Most recently, she served as regional vice president for MV Transportation, Inc.

“I knew the Omnitrans team was doing great work and that there are exciting projects on the horizon, such as the West Valley Connector and Arrow,” Erin shares.

As deputy general manager, Erin will serve with CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham and the Senior Leadership Team to set the direction of the organization and ensure that we deliver on the agency’s commitments to the Board of Directors and residents of the San Bernardino Valley.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of the team and making positive contributions to better connect our community.”

Employee of the Quarter John Steffon

What do you do when your department is without a Dispatch Supervisor, Assistant Transportation Manager (ATM), and West Valley Transportation Manager? Well, if you’re John Steffon, you buckle up, postpone your retirement plans, and rise to the occasion. Earlier this month, John, East Valley Transportation Manager, was declared Employee of the Quarter for his contributions to the Operations department while taking on three other positions’ responsibilities.

“Time management was tough,” admits John. “Some of your own work has to take a backseat to what really needs to be done then and there. This was the biggest challenge – trying to keep everything up to date from attendance, to handling all ATM duties, making sure all dispatch supervisor duties were being handled, and covering at West Valley if we needed to handle any disciplinary issues.”

While juggling multiple jobs during this time in addition to his own, John had to work with his team and the agency to increase our part-time driver roster. This was critical in addressing a challenge faced by Omnitrans at the time – drivers having to work overtime on their days off to deliver service to our customers. Their efforts paid off.

“We’ve recently graduated a class of eight new coach operators, and today we have six people testing, with another class joining us in December,” reveals John. “The onboarding of new drivers is really helping to keep service on the road without forcing overtime on our existing coach operators. We are focused on building up our part-time drivers so that overtime goes down and as people retire or leave, we have people ready to fill their positions. It’s been tough, but we need to get service on the road because our passengers are the ultimate customers and they are depending on us.”

Employee of the Quarter John Steffon (second from right) is congratulated by (from the left) CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham, Director of Operations Diane Caldera, and Board of Directors Chair Ron Dailey.

This year, John celebrates his 23rd year at Omnitrans. He has nearly 50 years of transportation experience, having spent almost 25 years at Greyhound in Los Angeles prior to Omnitrans. “Before that, I spent years in the army on boats, planes – all different modes of transportation! I served in 1967 and 1968 after being drafted upon graduating college,” says John, a Vietnam War veteran.

John began his career with Omnitrans as a field supervisor in West Valley. Sunday bus service had just started in 1994, and the agency hired two additional field supervisors, one of which was John. A year later the Transportation Manager position opened, and he was promoted in 1995.

“The most satisfying part of this job is coming to work with a positive attitude and seeing that we’re getting service on the road and helping people. The community needs us, and we need them. Being in the service industry, it’s our duty to provide that service, especially for those who really depend on us to get to work, meetings, doctor’s appointments, or other errands,” says John.

“You learn something new every day. You think you’ve seen all the situations that you possibly can; it’s mind-boggling. What I’m learning is how to keep up with all this new technology in the transit industry and, not to be too funny, but, also learning how to deal with millennials and speaking a little bit of their language,” he laughs.

Outside of work, John likes to dedicate his time to reading, golfing, and going outside on walks. He is also a major football enthusiast, and he is ecstatic that his team, the Rams, is back in Southern California. He proudly shows off his 2016 Omnitrans Fantasy Football League trophy. “The reason I need to walk is because I’m a couch potato when it comes to watching football!” he jokes.

Although John looks forward to retirement early next year, he remains fully committed to our mission of connecting our community. “It’s coming to an end and it’ll be time to move on in a few months. Omnitrans has been very good to me, and I come here every day with a smile on my face.”

Omnitrans Selects Baysden as Director of Rail

Rail operations veteran Trischelle Baysden will lead Omnitrans’ new rail department as the transit agency prepares to launch Arrow passenger rail service in 2020, connecting Redlands and San Bernardino.

Baysden brings 25 years of experience in rail operations, including the past nine years at Metrolink commuter rail service, governed by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority. Her background includes a broad spectrum of knowledge including conducting, engineering, dispatching, scheduling, and federal compliance work.

Director of Rail Trischelle Baysden and Rail Safety & Compliance Officer Loretta Rains

Construction of the 9-mile Arrow line is being led by the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA). The Arrow will serve stations at the University of Redlands, downtown Redlands, New York St. near esri, at Tippecanoe Ave., and the multimodal San Bernardino Transit Center where passengers can make connections to take them throughout Southern California.  

“The startup of a new service will be new to me, so I am really looking forward to that challenge,” said Baysden. “That’s a milestone that some of us in the railroad industry aspire to. Launching a new service is a bucket list item and is the pie in the sky of achievements.”

Arrow trains will operate daily, arriving every 30 minutes at peak times, and 60 minutes off peak.  The service will use Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs). These hybrid rail type vehicles that use self-contained, clean diesel motors that convert power to electricity to run are cleaner, quieter, and cheaper to operate than the traditional locomotive-hauled coaches.  In addition, they have the flexibility to evolve to the next generation of all electric-powered vehicles, offering the first of its kind in California.

Director of Rail Baysden and Rail Safety & Compliance Officer Loretta Rains currently comprise the entire rail team at Omnitrans.  Their focus over the next year is to partner with SBCTA during construction and vehicle acquisition while developing the scope of work to select a firm to operate Arrow service for Omnitrans.

Baysden began her railroad career with Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), working her way up from Brakeman/Footboard Yardmaster to Chief Dispatcher over the span of 16 years.  Baysden earned a Bachelor of Science in Business/Project Management from the University of Phoenix and in 2018 expects to complete a Master of Science in Transportation Management from the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University.

Links:  Arrow/Redlands Passenger Rail Project

Employee of the Quarter, January-March 2017

For Field Supervisor and Employee of the Quarter Tiffany Barnes, persistence is the name of the game. Having started her career with Omnitrans as a Coach Operator 12 years ago, Tiffany has always looked forward to continuing her growth within the agency. She not only wishes for a lucky break to happen, she diligently chases her goals and creates opportunities for herself.

In the first quarter of this year, Tiffany held three different positions in the Operations department, simultaneously: sbX Coach Operator, Relief Field Supervisor, and Relief Dispatch Supervisor. “Tiffany is an operator who has shown perseverance and determination,” says Director of Operations Diane Caldera. “She is utilized in all of her positions, doing very well in each, and is an excellent example of succession planning.”

“I’ve been trying to be a Field Supervisor for five years now,” says Tiffany, who would like to move upward at Omnitrans as far as she feels prepared to go. “I’ve tried and put in maybe four or five applications before becoming Relief Field Supervisor. Around that same time, I got Relief Dispatch Supervisor, so I held three positions at once.”

Tiffany faced a challenge in adjusting to three roles, but was able to take it in stride. “My schedule was all over the place!” she laughs. “That’s the challenge that I’ve faced. Getting the hang of things came naturally and everything fell into place. Everything meshed well together while juggling the three positions, but the irregular schedule was tough at first.”

It may seem like a daunting balancing act, but Tiffany is no stranger to multitasking. The mother of two boys, 5 and 12, decided to become a full-time college student to advance in her career. “I decided I needed to go to school to get a full-time Field Supervisor position. I enrolled and got a bachelor’s degree,” she says. “This July I’ll be going back for a master’s in business administration.”

Employee of the Quarter Tiffany Barnes (second from right) is congratulated by (from the left) CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham, Director of Operations Diane Caldera, and Board of Directors Chair Sam Spagnolo.

In March, while in the capacity of Relief Field Supervisor, Tiffany’s leadership skills had the chance to shine as she and other staff members responded to a customer’s life-threatening emergency at the San Bernardino Transit Center.

While mitigating the situation, Tiffany collaborated with 9-1-1 dispatchers, Omnitrans security officers, and customer service staff at the transit center. As smoothly as possible, she had the facility evacuated, while also coordinating with customer service and Omnitrans dispatch to adjust our transportation operations as necessary during this time.

“As a supervisor, I had to get the facility cleared and locked down. It was a good team effort and we did the best we could in the situation. It was challenging but I felt prepared for it after my training at Omnitrans,” she says.

The situation was new for Tiffany, who was able to remain calm and level headed to figure out the best way to approach the situation and have it handled properly. Prior to Omnitrans, Tiffany had worked in the medical field, which taught her the importance of maintaining composure during an emergency. She also gives kudos to the SBTC customer service staff and security team for their great crisis management skills.

“Customer service and security were awesome! It was a team effort, so I give kudos to them. I had customer service call dispatch to reroute the buses, and they helped to lock down the facility. It was just great synergy and teamwork.”

The day the Omnitrans Board of Directors recognized her as Employee of the Quarter in May also happened to be Tiffany’s first day in her new and sole position of Field Supervisor, the job that for five years she had been striving for. “It’s tough getting turned down, but I never gave up,” she says. “I don’t believe in giving up on myself or my goals. So that’s what I will continue to do.”

Omnitrans has become “home” for Tiffany, so it is no surprise that she is committed to her job. She has a deep respect for her colleagues who she considers like family, and has love and passion for helping the people that we serve. “I love people and believe treating people the way you would want to be treated whether they’re homeless, or different than you. That’s what I live by and teach my children,” she says.

Employee of the Year 2016, Marcos Espinoza

Reliability, expertise, and a friendly demeanor are what make our 2016 Employee of the Year an invaluable asset to the Omnitrans team. Marcos Espinoza, network technician in our Information Technology department, has been a member of the Omnitrans family for less than two years, but has already significantly impacted the agency.

Last year, during a data transfer to a new server, the agency’s onboard bus video surveillance footage was deemed irretrievable due to faulty hardware. The footage is critical to ongoing investigations and claims pertaining to accidents, liability claims, law enforcement assistance, and more.

Marcos, who admits to enjoying “breaking down” electronics and putting them back together, rose to the task after failed attempts by outside vendors to retrieve this footage. He methodically tackled the issue and successfully gained access to the files, recovering all footage. Although this may have unfolded behind-the-scenes, his action saved the agency time, resources, and potential trouble.

Employee of the Year Marcos Espinoza (second from left) is congratulated by (from left) Director of Information Technology Jacob Harms, Board of Directors Chair Sam Spagnolo, and CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham.

“Marcos has demonstrated that he can master nearly any task put in his way, and is self-directed in seeking out new projects to accomplish,” says Director of Information Technology Jacob Harms, lauding Marcos’s high work ethic and self-motivation. “The only challenge in having an employee like Marcos is keeping enough fresh challenges in front of him.”

In addition to resolving issues surrounding wireless problems in our video systems and Citrix network slowness, Marcos has earned a positive reputation among co-workers for his strong ability to resolve issues of any magnitude, treating each Help Desk request with such urgency and importance. We thank him for embodying the spirit of teamwork and his exemplary commitment to the advancement of Omnitrans.

Employee of the Quarter, October-December 2016

Director of Operations Diane Caldera, Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Christina Diaz, Omnitrans CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham, and Board of Directors Chair Sam Spagnolo.

When asked to attend the Omnitrans Board of Directors meeting in February to be officially recognized as the Employee of the Quarter, Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Christina Diaz was appreciative and humbled, but a little apprehensive.

“I don’t like all the attention,” a modest Christina reveals. “I just want to come to work and do the best job that I can. That’s how I like to prove myself.”

Christina’s passion for the work that she does led her to this achievement. She does not seek pomp and circumstance, or praise. She would rather let her strong work ethic speak for itself – and it has.

When she’s not leading a new class of coach operators through their five-week training period, Christina is working on tasks to improve our fleet safety. She currently also sits on the Accident Tracking and Prevention Committee and is an alternate representative on the Accident Incident Review Committee.

Over the last quarter, Christina has: become the first in the Training department to complete the Leadership Action Plan program, the University of the Pacific Transit Management certification, and developed an employee proficiency form that has improved the Operations department’s CHP and DMV audits of over 400 coach operators. She has also volunteered to attend the DMV Employee Testing Program (ETP) examiner course in Sacramento later this year. Gaining this certification saves the agency money and resources by having an ETP examiner on-site to administer the tests for coach operator commercial driver licenses.  

As involved as she is within her department, Christina’s enjoyment comes from interacting with new coach operator students in the training room.

“I get to be a mentor as well as a coach,” Christina smiles. “This is what I tell students when they come through the door: ‘I don’t teach you how to drive, you already know how to drive. I am just going to add to what you already know.”

Christina’s approach to training is not to simply teach from a manual, but to pass on knowledge that she has gained through experience, and share it with future drivers to enrich their own job performance. This is what makes her look forward to another day at the office.

“I enjoy interacting with our trainees and being exposed to different types of personalities. It helps me learn to work with different individuals. The agency relies on me to execute what needs to be done, and if I can contribute to that greater goal of the agency by instructing new drivers, then I am happy,” she tells us.

Fleet Safety and Training team at the 2016 Omnitrans Bus Roadeo: (left to right) Charles Molloy, Christina Diaz, Norma Zamora, Don Frazier, Kim Perkins, and Steve Sisneros.

Before joining Omnitrans in 2013, Christina had been a driver at other transit agencies. When the time came for a change, she found an opportunity in Training that was suitable to her skills and experience. She describes this as the agency “taking a chance” on her without knowing her, for which she is grateful.

In her three and a half years with the agency, her proudest moment is having been an integral part of the sbX launch in 2014. “I was here since its inception,” Christina says proudly. “Even though I was new here, I got to be involved in the process from the beginning, learning how to drive the 60-foot articulated buses, and passing that on to operators who had not driven them before,” Christina shares. “That was a milestone – to launch the region’s first bus rapid transit line – and I got to be a part of it. I made history with the agency!”

Christina’s mindset is that fostering mutually beneficial relationships with coach operators is crucial. “Someone once told me that if you have a know-it-all attitude, and you believe there is nothing else that anybody can teach you, you’re in trouble. There is a lot to learn, always.”

She continues, “I am always asking a lot of questions! We are all part of one agency, and the more that you’re aware and knowledgeable of other departments and facets of the agency, the better that you can do your job. Knowing more allows you to understand the broader picture of what we do for our public.”

Christina’s pride and dedication are not lost on anybody, especially her supervisor, Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Don Frazier. “Christina has been a true leader in the Training department. She has volunteered for tasks continuously and has worked many days off to make sure that tasks are covered,” says Don. “Christina has definitely proven to be not only an excellent instructor, but an overall great employee to the agency.”

Moving forward, Christina wants to continue to exceed expectations. “My goal is to continue to fulfill the needs of the agency and to meet the demands to the best of my ability. I also want to continue to grow and learn as much as I can.”

“I take such pride in this job, which is something that I haven’t always done before. I didn’t always care about my uniforms looking neat and pressed,” she laughs. “But now at Omnitrans, I go as far as taking them to the cleaners, because that’s how proud I am to be here.”