Category Archives: Rider Profile

Inland Empire newcomer connects from Omnitrans to Metrolink with ease

Moving to a new town can be overwhelming. You seek to get quickly acclimated to new surroundings, find the best nearby food and shops, and Yelp away to find the perfect stylist who can be trusted with your hair.

For Omnitrans rider Maria, not only was moving to the Inland Empire from Los Angeles a major adjustment in and of itself, she also needed to learn an entire new transit system that would get her where she needed to go.

“It’s a different atmosphere compared to Los Angeles,” says Maria, reflecting on the past year living in San Bernardino. “Transit is very different. Here, when you board, the drivers wait for you to sit down before taking off. Back in L.A., they don’t have time to do that for every rider! Life is a lot more tranquil out here.”

Being a transplant to the IE who chooses to leave her car at home, familiarizing herself with Omnitrans was at the top of Maria’s checklist. She was pleased to learn from her daughter that the official Omnitrans mobile app was a resource that would help her embark on this new journey.

“The Trip Planner on the app provided me with step-by-step routing information to reach my favorite destinations, such as the Inland Center mall and San Manuel Casino. A fellow rider also tipped me off about the Bus Book and taught me how to view the maps and read the schedules,” says Maria.

She goes here, she goes there, she goes everywhere. Maria even rides on dates with her boyfriend, who takes advantage of the veteran discount rate offered by Omnitrans.

Although I can drive a car, I prefer not to. Omnitrans moves me and gets me wherever I would like to be. Truth be told, the timing is nearly always accurate to what the schedules state. I enjoy the day pass, because I can ride the local routes as well as the sbX Green Line. It’s very comfortable and the drivers are very nice.”

As a busy freelance worker who does embroidery on wedding gowns, Maria  commutes five to six days as far as Pasadena for work.

The extension of Metrolink to the San Bernardino Transit Center (SBTC) from the Santa Fe Depot has been a valuable service enhancement to people like Maria who commute west into Los Angeles.

“I feel much safer at the transit center, especially at night time, because there is brighter lighting. I’m surrounded by others who are riding the bus and the train, and there is more security staff patrolling here. I also save time by not having to ride a second bus to the depot to catch my train. Now, I can just walk a few steps to the train platform from my bus stop!”

Maria’s livelihood requires great attention to detail – meticulously placing rhinestones on gowns, sewing bustles that add the right amount of volume to a train, and making alterations to perfect a bride’s special day. It’s a great thing to be able to relax and wind down on the way to work with an easy commute.

“Omnitrans bus service is very reliable and hassle-free. For example, yesterday, I walked to the store with my daughter for a couple of things. When we checked out, of course we’d gotten more things than we’d originally set out to,” says Maria with a laugh.

“Because of all the groceries, and the heat that day, we looked for the next bus arrival on the app and quickly were on our way back home, in the air-conditioned bus, instead of walking.”

Passenger gains new lease on life through biking and riding

From racing as a teenager growing up in San Bernardino and Highland, to riding to and from class as an adult, bicycling has been a life-long hobby for eight-year Omnitrans passenger Adrian. A fun, leisure activity has since evolved into a practical mode of transportation that has made a meaningful impact in his life, and we are pleased to have been along on his ride.

“I used to bike race when I was younger,” Adrian tells us while waiting for Route 4 at the San Bernardino Transit Center (SBTC). “I stopped when I got a car and started working. At 43, I needed a career-change and I began taking courses at San Bernardino Valley College.”

“Because of the unlimited student rides with GoSmart, I started riding again regularly. When Omnitrans started allowing bikes on the bus, it made getting around so convenient. I can go anywhere that I want now without walking!”

This was not always the case. Suffering from high blood pressure, Adrian was told that living past 40 was not possible. He refused to become dependent on the drugs that regulated his heart disease, and was determined to make a change that reunited him with his passion – bikes.

“I used to weigh 260 pounds,” recounts Adrian. “I quit drinking and started to make changes toward becoming healthier. I thought, ‘Wait a minute.’ I used to love riding and racing mountain bikes. I straightened myself out and thought about what I used to do before all this mayhem,” he says.

Adrian now studies water supply technology at Valley Colleges and is interested in a career at a water plant. He is drawn to the scientific aspect of the field, the job stability, and flexibility. Riding the bus helps him complete assignments before class or squeeze in extra study time before an exam.

“Sometimes I ride the 11.5 miles from my house to Valley College, but if I need to relax, or read an article before class, I do that on the bus ride,” says Adrian. “By the time the bus arrives at the transit center, I am done and ready to ride over to class.”

Adrian takes advantage of low-cost bike maintenance at the Bike Hubitat at the SBTC. Using skills learned along the way, he now helps friends with their own bike maintenance and has become an enthusiast of the Inland Empire Biking Alliance.

“It can get very pricey to maintain bikes,” says Adrian, who enjoys giving back to the cycling community when he is not with his teenage son or working toward his educational goals. “I’ve taught myself to work on them myself. The Bicycle Hubitat here at the SBTC also helps me with bike repairs, so I don’t have to waste money on expensive tools that I’ll only use one time.”

Adopting this alternative mode of transportation definitely has contributed to the betterment of Adrian’s life. He credits biking for bringing some of his youth back into his life and keeping him active and focused. His health has improved, and he even was successfully taken off of high blood pressure medication! “I’m grateful that Omnitrans has been a part of that journey,” he says.

“Now, when drivers on the road cut me off, or yell at me to get out of the way, I always end up catching up to them at a red light and look at them through their window. The look on their faces is pretty funny, as if they are asking themselves – ‘how did he catch up to me so fast!?’” he laughs.

CSUSB student rides Omnitrans to stay active, avoid parking costs

Jose S. of Rialto has been riding Omnitrans and sbX for four years while working toward his degree in Sociology at California State University, San Bernardino. Even when he used to drive a car to class, Jose preferred to leave it at the free Park & Ride lot at Palm & Kendall, and shuttle down to class on sbX, only a five-minute bus ride to campus.

“Doing this helped me save money on a parking permit and, although for some people it may not be expensive, it also saved me time. Finding parking at such a large university can be pretty hard, even with your parking permit. My first year here, finding parking was easy, but now, when I skate by the parking lot, people will ask me if I am leaving so that they can follow me and take my parking spot,” he laughs.

Those student drivers’ hopes and dreams of snatching that parking space and making it to class on time are crushed when Jose tells them that he’s simply riding his skateboard to the sbX platform.

“Because of GoSmart, I don’t have to pay every time I board. All my money usually goes to school, or food, so it’s neat not having to pay. I’m hyped that I have my student ID card to ride Omnitrans wherever I need to go,” he explains.

“The drivers are sociable and friendly. I appreciate that if I start a conversation, they will engage with me. I also like the features such as the online trip planner and NexTrip text message capability to know how long it will be until your bus arrives. It’s almost always precise, never off by more than a minute.”

Jose got in touch with us via Instagram a few weeks back, where he reached out regarding our student internship opportunities. On his page, he showcases action-packed videos of he and his friends skating and skillfully performing tricks at skate parks.

“This is what I love to do. It’s my passion. Almost 10 years ago, my mom bought me a toy skateboard from Wal-Mart and when we visited my mom’s friend in Fresno, her kids with years of experience got me into skateboarding. I took a spare board that was in their garage since mine was slow compared to theirs, and that’s how I got into it,” he shared with us.

Riding Omnitrans isn’t just for school or work – Route 22 also gets Jose to the skate park where he can live out his passion and stay active. Even his friends have joined in on the fun and convenience of riding Omnitrans to the park. Jose says they were surprised by how different riding the bus was from what they thought.

“Route 22 takes me from my house right to the front of Ferguson Skate Park, which is so convenient. Route 14 takes me to the other skate park in Fontana. I would’ve never thought there would be so many bus stops to my destinations besides school,” he says.

Skating to and from the bus stop not only combines his favorite hobby with transportation, but it helps Jose relieve the stress of college life, especially during final exams. “It’s my form of meditation. Even a simple short ride from class to the bus stop can clear my mind,” he explains.

“I just enjoy riding my skateboard to the bus. This probably sounds weird, but I love the feeling of pressing the yellow strip to request a stop because we’re approaching my destination!” he jokes.

Monique Benefits from Mobile Fare Send-A-Pass Feature

Monique of San Bernardino has been an Omnitrans rider for about six years, but has a newfound appreciation for Omnitrans thanks to our paperless bus fare partnership with Token Transit. Being able to pay for her bus ride with her smartphone was convenient, but the ability for others to send a bus pass to her smartphone is what truly helped her in a recent time of need.

“It has been about six months now without any income, so it’s been tough trying to get to job interviews without bus fare,” shares Monique, who was in between jobs when we spoke. “I had people who wanted to help me out, so I emailed Token Transit and asked if there was a way for people who live out of state to help me pay for my bus passes.”

Much to her delight, Monique was informed of the Send-A-Pass feature available on Token Transit, which allows you to send bus passes digitally to any Omnitrans rider using only their mobile phone number. The bus passes cost the same, and there is no additional fee for gifting a bus pass to somebody else through their phone number.

“Token Transit responded to my e-mail right away and sent me a link. I posted the link on my Facebook page, along with my phone number. It was a private post visible by my friends only, and by the time Token Transit followed up with me, two people had already sent me mobile bus passes on the app.”

With this feature, pass buyers don’t need to be near the recipient to personally deliver a physical bus pass. Token Transit mobile fares allow people anywhere to send a digital pass to an Omnitrans rider’s smartphone, no matter the distance, digitally with a debit or credit card payment.

“Buyers have the option to get a single ride pass, day pass, 7-day or 31-day pass, any pass that is offered by Omnitrans. From my house to downtown San Bernardino it’s a one-seat bus ride, so even the single ride pass was a big help,” explains Monique.

“I’m with a staffing agency, and yesterday, for example, they called me in for an interview and I had to stop by the agency first, and then head to my job interview. I used NexTrip on the Omnitrans app to let me know when the bus was arriving, along with the Token Transit app. It just takes a lot of the stress off of you.”

Monique is pleased that with the power of social media, smartphone technology, and generous friends, Omnitrans mobile bus fares made life a little easier while on the job hunt. With her access to Omnitrans, she has been able to expand her potential job opportunities.

“I am very happy with the service, especially the Freeway Express routes because they broaden the area that I can search for jobs in. I also like the new connections here at the San Bernardino Transit Center, especially with the RTA CommuterLink Route 200. I like going to Downtown Disney to watch a movie now that the express bus connects here.”

Days after our chat at the San Bernardino Transit center, Monique contacted us and let us know that she had just accepted a great job offer! She looks forward to using her mobile bus passes to get to work every day. Congratulations, Monique!

Long-time rider benefits from the SBTC’s newly augmented regional connectivity


Cynthia, 62, of San Bernardino is a long-time rider who has dedicated herself to caring for seniors living with disabilities. She relies on Omnitrans to get to her clients every day – a choice that she feels good about each time her bus zooms by cars stalled in traffic on the freeways.

“I have my driver’s license, but I choose not to drive. I ride the Freeway Express and just watching all the people stuck in traffic – that’s enough for me to not want to drive a car! Riding the bus is much more convenient,” she shares with us while waiting for Route 215 to depart at the San Bernardino Transit Center (SBTC).

“I know a lot of drivers from my years of riding Omnitrans, and the majority have been very nice. They treat us, the passengers, with respect. I’ve never been on a bus where a driver was recklessly driving,” she shares of her experience with Omnitrans drivers. “They know what to say, what not to say, and I appreciate that. You have to admire their patience in working with the public.”

Omnitrans’ express routes and the regional connectivity at the SBTC make mobility easy for Cynthia. Commuting to work is a simple ride on her local route to the SBTC, where she connects to Freeway Express (Route 215 for Riverside or Route 290 for Ontario, her two primary work destinations). Cynthia is also benefitting from the recent Metrolink extension to Downtown San Bernardino, now stopping at the transit center.

“I love the [San Bernardino] Transit Center, and to have the Metrolink trains coming here now – I am loving it! I’m feeling so spoiled!” she gushes. “Now I only catch one bus to the transit center and I can go see my mommy in Los Angeles. It was a really good idea to connect the trains to the transit center. It makes it easier, not just for me, but for other bus riders that I used to see down at the 3rd Street depot. They now can connect from the bus to the Metrolink here at the transit center. It has made travel so much easier for us.”

Cynthia is also a student. On Tuesdays, she attends class at a local adult school in San Bernardino. Riding our traditional fixed route system after work would make her late to class, which is why sbX rapid transit is a great solution for her.

“sbX takes me right to class after work. I got to get to work and school on time, so I love all the fast stuff!” she says about Omnitrans’ express services and sbX.

Although Cynthia has been part of the Omnitrans community for the past 10 years, she wants to purchase a car this year. That won’t keep her from riding, though. Cynthia will only drive to our Park and Ride lot at the SBTC and still take advantage of the benefits of riding public transit.

“I will still ride the bus to go shopping, to the grocery store, to the movies. I’ll take Omni everywhere I need to go.” The Route 215 driver approaches the bus, ready to depart, and an energetic Cynthia takes out her bus pass. “Oh, we got to go now!”

 

 

 

Mobile fares enhance the Omnitrans experience for commuter

Isaiah of San Bernardino, California has been riding Omnitrans less than a year, but in his short time doing so, has already discovered the plentiful benefits that public transportation provides to riders.

It was a chance encounter, when Isaiah was experiencing car trouble one day. Needing a ride to get to work in Ontario, Isaiah knew that the bus was available as an option, so he visited Omnitrans.org for the latest schedule and has since been making his weekly commute on Omnitrans!

“I’ve only been riding for a few months, but riding the bus is cool! It’s affordable and provides reliable transportation to work during the week. The drivers are very nice and patient with everybody. It’s been really good to me,” he shares with us while waiting for the bus at Ontario Mills one afternoon.

Monday through Friday, Isaiah hops on Freeway Express Route 290 at the San Bernardino Transit Center and gets off at Ontario Mills where he transfers to Route 61 for a short connection to his job site. “Traffic can be pretty stressful at this time of the day, but Freeway Express 290 is great because it can go in the carpool lane and it has limited stops which makes commuting less troublesome.”

Isaiah loads his activated bus pass on his smartphone to show the driver upon boarding Omnitrans.

The Omnitrans passenger service that Isaiah has enjoyed most recently has been our introduction of mobile fares via the Token Transit app. “I get a 7-day pass every week on Token Transit. It’s neat to be able pay with your phone and not have to worry about always having exact cash. I always had to have $18 cash to pay the driver for a pass, but having the mobile fare option has made riding so much easier because I can easily buy the pass with my debit card. And, you don’t need to worry about losing your bus pass, either, because it’s always in your phone.”

Isaiah would like to get a new car soon, but that doesn’t mean his journey with Omnitrans will have to come to an end. “Honestly, when I get a new car, I will continue to take the bus and leave my car at home during the week and only drive on the weekends. It’s more convenient because you don’t have to sit through traffic or spend more money on gas,” he reveals of his future transportation plans.

He also plans to enroll in classes at Valley College in San Bernardino, where he will be entitled to unlimited rides with our GoSmart program for students!

“I’d never ridden the bus before; I just looked up the bus schedules online one day when I needed a ride because my car broke down. I’d never had a reason to ride, but now I would recommend it to others, honestly. It’s affordable, reliable, and saves money,” says Isaiah as he boards Freeway Express 290 to head back home at the end of his work day. See you on the bus tomorrow, Isaiah!

Stress-free traveling with Omnitrans bus service to ONT airport

On this sunny day in October, Michael W. has just arrived in Ontario from Charlotte, North Carolina after visiting his 92-year-old father. Rather than drive his car to the airport from his house, which is less than 5 miles away, he decided to take Omnitrans, now serving Ontario International Airport every 15 minutes, seven days a week.

“The bus stop is located just steps from my front door in Rancho Cucamonga,” he tells us. “The location offers perfect commute opportunities for both my wife and me, for both work and pleasure.”

Although Michael does travel to and from LAX, just under 60 miles away from home, he prefers the ease of connecting to Ontario International Airport via Omnitrans public transit. When he chooses to travel out of LAX, he starts out riding Omnitrans to the Montclair Transit Center, connects to Metrolink, and rides to Union Station where he hops on the Flyaway shuttle to the airport.

When he and his wife flew to Hawaii on vacation last year, this was how they traveled.  “It was one of the most stress-free beginnings to a vacation that I’ve ever had,” he fondly remembers.

Currently, Michael is employed by the County of Riverside in the Environmental Health Department, HAZMAT Division, where he has worked for a decade. “I love my job, and can’t believe that they pay me to do what I do,” he says.

His wife currently attends pharmacy school in Claremont, and is completing an internship in Thousand Oaks. On the weekends, he will meet her for lunch, using public transit the entire distance.  His favorite thing is to catch Omnitrans Route 66 and connect at the Montclair Transit Center.  There, he boards the Metrolink to complete his trip.

He often connects to popular L.A. destinations using the Metro Expo Line. He mentions the Museum of Natural History and the annual book fair. “There’s so much to do in L.A. and it’s so easy to get to,” says Michael.  “I look forward to exploring even more destinations.”

Michael has two months left until he transitions into retirement. He has his sights set on achieving two goals: auditing as many classes as possible at Chaffey College, getting there by riding Omnitrans (of course!) and selling his car and relying completely on public transit.

It is Michael’s sense of curiosity has led him to enroll in a philosophy class at Chaffey College. “The reason I chose Chaffey College is because it has excellent bus service to and from the college,” said Walling.  “I don’t want to get to retirement and be disappointed. I want to continue learning and exploring the world.”

He is lugging a large, rolling suitcase with a backpack, but maneuvers it with ease. Our conversation comes to an end when the bus arrives

“Here’s my ride,” he grins as he climbs aboard Route 61. Walling’s dreams, like his suitcase, may seem big, but he clearly has a handle on them.  We wish you luck in all your transit adventures, Michael.

From a fun childhood hobby to a practical transportation mode

In the public transit world, we often see people combining different modes of transportation to get to their destinations – biking to the train station, walking to the bus stop, driving your car to meet your carpool group – but skateboarding and bus riding was a refreshingly different commute alternative!

As the new school year started earlier this month, we met Destiny Nunez at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga. She hopped off the bus at the Chaffey Transit Center and got on her skateboard, zooming by her schoolmates as they all made their way across campus. The 21-year-old San Bernardino County native rides Omnitrans to school, where she is currently in her second year of art studies working toward a career in animation.

“Omnitrans has been my main transportation to get to school,” she shares with us. “I don’t have a car yet, but I don’t mind riding the bus. It costs much less than having a car would, and even when I do get a car, I will try to ride the bus whenever possible because it’s just better to do that for the environment due to car emissions.”

Choosing and committing to a college after high school can be a daunting task, but Destiny planned hers around transportation. Because of Omnitrans’ GoSmart program and the one-seat ride that would get her to school on Route 80, Chaffey was the obvious choice for Destiny.

“One of my questions was, ‘would I be able to get there?’ I don’t really rely on people to get me places, so when I looked at the bus route and saw that it was convenient, I thought it was great that service was provided. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to come.”

And while some young people would not be caught dead riding the bus, Destiny is laughing back at critics. “I do a lot of homework on the bus, since it’s about a 50 minute ride. It’s really quiet and easy to get work done, or even study quickly before a test on the way to school. It definitely opens up more time for productivity, and I really like that part of it, too, because school can get so busy – especially if you also have a job. I work as well, so I really try to utilize every free minute I have and riding the bus allows me to do that.”

In a world where all of our attention is funneled into our smartphones or other devices, riding the bus also provides an authentic connection to others. “There are nice people that you meet on the bus. It’s usually other schoolmates who have your same schedule, so you always see them on the bus or waiting at the bus stop. That’s really nice. I don’t think I would’ve talked to those people any other way. Everyone’s so busy that they don’t really have time to stop and chat unless you’re in the same situation. I also like chatting with people older than me on the bus because you learn a lot from them. It’s nice to have little conversations and interactions that are always uplifting,” shares Destiny.

Getting the most out of her commute is something that Destiny has mastered at this point. She has meaningful interactions on the bus, spends time catching up on homework or studying, but is also able to get some fun out of it by riding her skateboard to the bus stop, a leisure interest that she has carried into adulthood from her youth.

“I ride my skateboard from my house to the bus stop, so it gets me there faster than walking. I’ve been doing this since middle school, if not a little bit before that. I grew up around a lot of boys, and my cousin and best friend growing up got me into skateboarding because he thought it would be fun for us to do together,” she reminisces.

“We got some little, plastic skateboards and started watching all the skateboarders. We finally got real skateboards and from that point, it became an everyday thing for us. After that, we became hardcore fans, practicing tricks. It was so much fun and I still love it. I don’t think I’ll ever stop doing it!” she tells us before skating off for an Art Club meeting. Happy riding, Destiny!

Omnitrans still a great solution for life-long rider

Every day, we cross paths with hundreds of people as we transport them around the San Bernardino Valley. We have the opportunity to connect with our riders in a unique and rewarding way, making us part of each other’s daily lives. Sometimes, we even get to watch our riders grow up right before our eyes!

Such is the case with Brandy, a college student who has been riding Omnitrans since she was just a youngster.

“I’ve been riding Omnitrans pretty much my entire life,” she tells us while waiting for her bus at the San Bernardino Transit Center. “When I was in the sixth grade, my mom started taking me on the bus with my twin sister. We ran errands, went out on weekends and rode to church on Sundays. From there on, I started taking the bus. It’s been part of my life since then.”

Though she’s now an adult, Brandy continues to navigate through life with the help of her old friends at Omnitrans. “I moved to Redlands, went to high school, and had a daughter. [Omnitrans] has been my method of transportation through all these stages in my life.”

Brandy is currently a college student working toward her career goal of becoming a medical assistant. She will complete her program in about three months. Even though Brandy and her fiancé share a car, she prefers to avoid car trouble by riding the Freeway Express Route 215 to Riverside every day that she has to attend class.

While Brandy plans to drive a car in the future, she will always be thankful to Omnitrans. “It provides me transportation for now while I am in school. It makes everyday tasks easier, such as going to the grocery store. Not only that, but on the weekends I am able to ride with my daughter to my fiancé’s house to swim in the pool or barbeque,” she tells us.

“I’m so used to riding the bus by now. It gets me where I need to be safely, and the drivers are very courteous. They’ve known me since middle school, so they’ve seen me grow up and become a mom,” she smiles.

Passengers like Brandy rely on Omnitrans to get to work, school, and other key destinations. We hope you enjoy her story – we’re interested in yours too! E-mail onlinemktg@omnitrans.org to share your story and we may feature you in a future rider profile.

No Hill For a Climber

Sand Canyon Road, the steep, winding road that connects Yucaipa with Mentone and Redlands, is a favorite ride for local cyclists.  For Omnitrans rider and multi-modal commuter John Sciniasil of Yucaipa, it’s just the second stop in his daily commute.

Each morning just as the sun rises, John begins his commute on  his foldable bike which is small enough to fit under a train or bus seat!  And even though he combines different modes of ridesharing, like carpooling or catching the bus, he always has a bicycle with him.  “Some days I catch a ride with a friend to work,” said John, “But on the way home I ride my bike.”

John Sciniasil of Yucaipa, combines his love of bicycle riding with other modes of transportation, such as Omnitrans, as he commutes to work.

On the day we talked, John was riding Omnitrans and using a Dahon bike, one of five foldable bikes he owns.  Although it folds down, John takes advantage of the 3-bike capacity rack at the front of the bus.

“In New York City, you see a lot of these kinds of bikes,” said John.  “Here, it’s more rare.”

His favorite Omnitrans route is typically Route 19, where he disembarks at Wabash and Sand Canyon, and sails on into east Redlands to begin his day with the Water Department.

“It’s smooth sailing going in,“ said John.  “But I really like the challenge of going up the hill to go home, believe it or not.”

Freeway Express Route 208 was launched in May 2017, and connects Yucaipa, Redlands, and Downtown San Bernardino with limited stops via I-10.

But last week, John decided to give the new Freeway Express Route 208 a try.  The fact that the express route reduces travel time overall compared to a car is appealing to him, and allows him even more commute options in the future.  Route 208’s stop at the Redlands Mall is only 1.7 miles from the building he works in, which he says will be great.

John’s romance with bicycle commuting began two years ago during California Rideshare Week.  He decided to try carpooling, as well as the bus.  Incorporating his love of bicycles seemed to be a natural fit.

 “It’s a bit of a climb depending upon which road I take, but I enjoy that kind of workout,” said John.

Well, you know what they say, ‘No Hill for a Climber!’  Happy travels to you, John.