Category Archives: Rider Profile

Loma Linda seniors early adopters of sbX

Retired nurse and Loma Linda resident Alexina aboard sbX BRT, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

“I love everything about sbX!” says Alexina with a broad smile.

The retired nurse and Loma Linda resident has been a regular rider on the rapid transit line since it launched in April. She doesn’t have a car and relies on public transit to get everywhere she need to go. She prefers riding sbX because it has stops at her favorite destinations, and the Anderson Street station is just a few blocks from her home.

“I enjoy getting out, so I’ll often take sbX over to Inland Center Mall or out to lunch. It’s a nice ride, and the air conditioning is wonderful! Today is the third time I’ve ridden the entire line all the way up to Palm and Kendall and back. It’s very relaxing, and I can read or just enjoy the scenery.”

An avid romance reader and Amazon reviewer, Alexina always has her Kindle handy in her purse. “I use the electrical outlets and Wi-Fi on here all the time,” she explains. “I carry power cords for my phone and Kindle with me so I can charge them whenever I need to. It’s very convenient.”

Reginald Wiley

Reginald is a retired Air Force veteran also living in Loma Linda. Although he’s been a regular rider from the beginning, he admits that early on he had doubts about the rapid transit system.

“I was one of the naysayers at first,” he explained.  ”Until I rode on it for the first time. I have to say it far exceeded every expectation I had. I like it.”

Reginald also finds it convenient to have an sbX station just two blocks from his home.  ”It makes it very easy for me to get to the VA hospital, and it’s about 15 minutes faster than the regular bus. I also like being able to charge my cell phone while I’m riding. It works well for me, and I enjoy it.”

Omnitrans rider loses wallet on bus 3 times–and gets it back!

Omnitrans passenger recovers lost wallet 3 times

Omnitrans Route 22 passenger Federico Gante has lost his wallet on the bus three times in the past four weeks. Each time it was found and turned in by someone on the bus.

“I don’t know how it keeps happening. I put it into my back pocket, and I guess it comes out of there,” he laughs. “I’m switching to another pocket now.”

Federico has been riding Omnitrans since he came here from Arizona back in February. He takes the bus every day to his job at  Papa Johns over on Pepper and San Bernardino.  

“I’m the Dough Master,” he grins. “Anytime you order a pizza, I’m the guy that makes it for you.”

If you happen to see Federico on Route 22, be sure to say hi and remind him to check his pocket before leaving the bus!

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

Access commute a lifesaver for family

Fontana resident Russell Allen Harris III relies on the Access bus to transport him to and from Rialto Adult Daycare during the week.

Access rider Russell Harris poses with one of his beaded gecko keychains.

Fontana resident Russell Allen Harris III relies on Access ADA bus service to transport him to and from Rialto Adult Daycare during the week.  His parents, Libby and Monroe Thompson, say that the service is a lifesaver for their family.

“It saves us from having to find a way to get him there and back every day,” says Monroe frankly. “The wheelchair makes it hard for us to do it alone. Even though he can walk, he sometimes has seizures and needs that chair to help him when he’s out. Access comes right to our door and it’s cheap. It’s very important to us.”

Access ADA rider Russell in the Omnitrans lobby

Monroe and Russell in the Omnitrans lobby

Thanks to the Access bus, Russell can enjoy the structured activities and outings offered by his daycare, such as shopping or going out to eat. Twice a week he goes bowling with his league, the Alley Cats. His favorite hobby is beading colorful gecko key chains which he wears proudly on his belt.

Russell likes his weekday commute and knows all his drivers by name. Their friendly curb-to-curb service ensures he gets to his destination safely, and it gives his family peace of mind to know their son is in good hands.

You can learn more about Access ADA service on our website at http://www.omnitrans.org/services/access/

For information about upcoming Access zone changes and new fares visit http://www.omnitrans.org/blog/2014/07/29/guide-september-service-changes/

Can we turn a non-rider into an sbX fan?

Mary and Jackson sbX BRT

Could we actually convert someone who is not normally a bus rider into an sbX fan? That was the question we set out to answer that question this week with a special tweetup aboard sbX.

It all began with this Twitter conversation.

Tweetup aboard sbX

Cloud9_72 is the Twitter handle for Inland Empire native Mary Risner. Mary takes a strong interest in community news and closely follows local reporters, law enforcement and politics on social media. Her husband works at the Department of Water, and the couple has a 10-year-old son named Jackson. When Jackson was three, he was diagnosed with autism, and Mary put aside her career as a school tutor to focus her energies on being a full time mom. She also connects with other parents of autistic kids online, helping them find the resources they need.

Omnitrans sbX BRT mom and son

Mary agreed to take us up on our offer of an sbX tour. I met her and Jackson at the Palm and Kendall Park and Ride where they were admiring the artwork on the glass station panels and checking out the ticket vending machine.   I asked them what they thought so far.

Jackson’s blue eyes looked anxious. “I’m a little worried because I’ve never ridden a bus before, except for a school bus.”

“Not a problem” I reassured him. “I am going to be your own personal escort and ride along with you and your mom. You won’t have to worry about a thing. I even have passes and goody bags here for you guys.”

He smiled and started digging into the bag I offered him. “Thanks!”

Mary pointed to the bottom of the map case. “I was trying to figure out the route, and the map was scaring me a little. It covers a huge area and it looks like it would be easy to get lost.”

“Actually that the map for the entire Omnitrans system,” I explained. “You’re right. We have a big service area, so it can be a little intimidating at first. We’re taking the sbX line which is pretty much a straight shot from here to the Loma Linda VA Hospital. The sbX coaches travel down the E Street corridor and back up again in a continuous loop.”

Mary smiled. “I think I can manage that.”

I snapped a few photos of her and Jackson beside the sbX coach. “Hold up your ticket for the picture, mom,” Jackson urged her.

We all laughed.

“I’ve only ridden a bus one time back when I was in high school,” Mary confessed. “And it wasn’t a good experience. I was so shaken up by it that I decided I would rather walk the three miles between my house and the school rather than ever ride again.”

“Let’s see if we can change your mind,” I told her. “Ready to go guys?”

We climbed aboard, and I showed them how to insert their passes into the farebox. Walking up the aisle, they were all smiles as they looked around them.

“It’s actually really nice,” said Mary sounding surprised.

Jackson made a beeline for the center of the vehicle. “Look at the high seats, mom! I want to sit there!”

Pulling out of the station, we made our way to Loma Linda. Jackson was excited as Mary pointed out familiar landmarks along the way: restaurants and malls, schools where she used to tutor, places where family friends work, and restaurants they might want to visit.

The two also liked seeing the different art at the stations we passed. Mary was particularly drawn to the Hunt’s Lane station display “Setting The Table” which featured vintage looking dinner plates on a glass panel.

“They look like real dishes in the glass!” she marveled.

As we pass by a car repair shop, Mary told me her husband had ridden sbX himself recently when he had to drop off his car to be fixed. Instead of waiting around the shop for two hours, her rode sbX over to a local restaurant to get a bite to eat. He thought the coach was nice and liked the fast travel time.

At Loma Linda we got off at the Park and Ride to have lunch at the BK Subs next door.

We chatted about our families, pets and our plans for the summer.

“With school out, we’ve been looking for things to do together that don’t cost a lot of money,” Mary told me. “Riding the bus today has been like a little adventure for us. What do you think, Jackson?  Maybe we could take sbX and meet dad at his office for lunch sometime? Or maybe the three of us could take a trip to Inland Center Mall and go to Chuck E. Cheese.”

Jackson grinned, “That would be fun!”

After lunch we board sbX to head back. I find out that Jackson is an avid gamer. He was excited to learn that I’m an angry bird fan and that the red bird is both our favorites. He loves Mario, Q-Bert, Pokemon and all the classics.

“He makes Youtube videos about some of his favorite characters,” Mary told me proudly. “He draws them and makes up stories about them. He’s a really talented artist.”

This was the perfect opportunity to talk to them about some of the features sbX has to offer tech savvy riders. I pointed out the overhead power outlets that can be used to charge small electronics and informed them there was free on board Wi-Fi.

“No way!” exclaimed Jackson practically bouncing with excitement.

He and Mary immediately pulled out their devices to give it a try.

“So what do you think? Have we made an sbX fan out of you?” I asked Mary. “Do you think you’d come back on your own and ride again?”

She laughed. “Yes, it was a lot of fun. And I can relax and hang out with Jackson instead of having to focus on driving. Next time I’ll bring my husband with us, and we can do a family trip. Maybe I can figure out how to take the regular Omnitrans bus to get here instead of driving.”

“That’s easy enough. Just call our customer service center, tell them where you are and where you want to go and they’ll help you plan your trip.”

“Wow, I didn’t know you guys did that. Thanks!”

As we arrived back at Palm and Kendall, Jackson suggested I take one more picture. He’d been having fun during the trip coming up with poses for me and took his job as a model very seriously. “I call this one ‘The Thinking Man,’” he said, propping his hand under his chin and elbow on his knee. “It’s a famous statue.”

“I know that, but I’m surprised that you know that,” I laughed. “You are one smart guy. Thanks for modeling for me.”

“You’re welcome.”

We all hugged when we disembarked, feeling like old friends.

“Thanks so much for the trip. We had fun!” said Mary.

As our two new sbX fans walked down the station, I pulled out the camera again. “Hey Jackson!” I yelled. “One last time!”

Jackson turned around on cue and gave a wave at the camera. A good model always knows how to strike a pose.

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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sbX gets me to my three jobs

I caught up with 26-year-old Jose when he was boarding sbX with his bike on Dump the Pump Day. It was his first week riding sbX  and he was pretty jazzed about the experience.

“It usually takes me two hours to get from Loma Linda to Highland on the regular bus,” he told me. “With sbX it’s only about an hour and a half, so now I’ve made it part of my normal routine. I work three jobs, so getting to work on time is important. I always try to leave an hour early to leave myself room just in case, and I usually bring my bike along because it’s faster for me to ride in certain areas. I like sbX because I can roll my bike on board with me.”

He laughed, “My boss jokes about me taking the fancy bus with the icy cold air conditioning. And he’s right. It’s really nice.”

Jose’s goal is to save up enough money to get a car. He has three kids, ages 4, 7 and 10 and one more on the way. For him it is all about providing for his family and making memories they can look back on in the years to come.

“Memories are important to me. I associate places with the things that happened there.”  He gave me an example. “My son lost his first tooth at an IHOP when he was biting into a pancake. It made us all laugh, and we ended up getting unlimited pancakes. The tooth fairy was very good to him that night.”

He shook his head smiling. “I usually get Sundays off which is when I can hang out with my family I’ll take them out to eat and we’ll cruise around on the buses or maybe go to Inland Center Mall.  I also like going out to Victoria Gardens out there in Rancho. I like to mix it up and do different things with them.”

Talking geography & dinosaurs aboard sbX

An sbX ride-along interview with Andrew and Mark Strickert

Andrew Strickert on Omnitrans sbX BRT, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

I met 4-year old Andrew on his first sbX BRT trip. “It’s really fast!” he grinned.

I offered him a gift from my prize bag if he would let me interview him. He eyed the bag thoughtfully. “Do you have any dinosaurs in there?” he asked hopefully.

I shook my head. “Nope. Sorry, fresh out of dinosaurs. I have a cap, a tote bag or a cell phone pouch.”

“A hat then,” he decided. He pulled it on his head, peering up from under the brim. “I like dinosaurs a lot.”

Andrew and Mark Strickert on sbX BRT

I snapped a few photos and talked a bit with Andrew’s dad, Mark Strickert, a student at Valley College. Thanks to the Go Smart program, Mark gets unlimited free bus rides with his student ID. Although he has a car, he prefers to park it at the Loma Linda Park & Ride and take the bus to school. It saves him money and time.

“It’s also much easier than trying to find parking on campus,” he points out.

Mark told me he used to work for Orange County Transportation Authority doing stops and zones but had decided to head back to school to study geography. His goal is to eventually do urban planning for cities or transit.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of geography, maps, and transit ever since I was a little boy,” he confessed. “I rode the bus by myself for the first time when I was seven. Of course it was a different time and place then. Chicago in the 60s was a lot different from what it is now. But I was always interested in cities and how to get around.”

Andrew Strickert on sbX BRT, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

He smiled over at his son.  “Andrew’s pretty good at getting around too. He knows when we’re close to home and can tell where he is from places that he recognizes.”

“Do you help your dad out if he gets lost?” I asked Andrew.

The 4-year-old shook his head giggling. “He never gets lost!”

His dad laughed.

Andrew was so excited that it was hard for him to sit still.   He moved from one seat to another between stops to check out the ride.

“So what kind of dinosaur do you like best?” I asked him curiously

“The one that stands up” he answered promptly.

“A T-Rex? He’s a little scary. You must be very brave. I think I prefer the kind of dinosaurs that eat veggies.”

Andrew nodded and turned around to look out the big window for a moment, swinging his legs back and forth.

“I have a dog named Roxie,” he said suddenly.  “She does tricks.”

“Really? What kind of tricks?”

He peered at me over the top of the seat.  “She sits down.”

“Wow. . . That is a pretty cool trick.”

“I know!!’ he said proudly, then added. “Dinosaurs don’t know how to sit.”

He hopped off the seat and went over to join his dad in the articulated section of the coach.

“Whoa!!” he laughed and held on to his head when the driver made a right and the turntable seats spun in a circle. “That was fun!”

“You know,” I said suddenly inspired. “I’ve never met a dinosaur but, if I do, I will have him call you.”

“Yeah?” Andrew looked up interested. “Do you think dinosaurs can talk on the phone?”

“I’m not sure, but if I meet one I’ll ask if he can call you.”

“Cool.” Andrew hesitated for a moment. “Not a big dinosaur though, okay? And not the one that stands up. A little one. Maybe like a baby or something.”

I agreed. “Besides, a big one might accidentally step on me. We’ll stick with little dinosaurs. Anyway it was nice meeting you. Thanks for the interview!”

Andrew grinned, “Bye.”

He grabbed his dad’s hand and the two got up to try out yet another seat.

You meet the most interesting people on board sbX!

This one’s for you, Andrew.

 - Juno Kughler Carlson
  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

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They call me the Bus Man

San Bernardino resident Jerry Silva has been riding Omnitrans since 1981. “They call me the Bus Man,” he grins. “I ride around ten buses a day, sometimes just to sight-see and get out of the house. I ride for the joy of it.”

Jerry also likes riding the bus to the movies or to hang out with his best friend in Fontana who he’s known since 1976. They are both Dodger fans who met in kindergarten and connected over their love of baseball. Forty-two years later, their friendship is still going strong and they go out of their way to spend time together.

Jerry has ridden the bus for so long that he knows all the routes, most of the drivers and even the Omnitrans receptionists who sell him his bus passes.

Jerry Silva and Omnitrans receptionist

“Everybody’s so kind and courteous,” he says. “I’ve known driver Daniel Hernandez over two years now. He’s really friendly and has a great attitude towards passengers. He gets the job done. He makes sure everyone has the right fare, has a bus book and so forth. Charlene is very nice too. I’ve had a good experience with all the drivers.”

Jerry Silva catching an Omnitrans busFor Jerry, the bus is more than just a means of transport. It is a way to stay connected with his community. Having struggled with depression for most of his life, he has found the best medicine is reaching out to make a difference to others.

“I like to help people get to where they’re going, especially the senior citizens,” says Jerry. “If they don’t know which bus to take, I explain it to them and let them know what it will cost and so forth. It’s all about kindness, making people feel better when they’re down and out, looking for opportunities to do nice things. I am always positive. I don’t believe in the negative. I always tell people that negative attitudes lead to bad experiences. If you just move forward, then you have a future. Today is a beautiful day. Who knows what tomorrow may hold for us? “

Jerry R Silva on an Omnitrans bus

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

Do you like this story and want to share it on your blog or newsletter?  All of our articles may be freely shared with others. Do you have a great Omnitrans or sbX story to tell?  Let us know!