Category Archives: Rider Profile

40th Anniversary Sweepstakes Winners Announced!

Last month, we reached an important landmark which you may have heard a thing or two about – our 40th anniversary! As part of our celebration, we gave away 40 prizes, one for each year that Omnitrans has proudly served the San Bernardino Valley.

Winners were chosen at random from our pool of 700-plus sweepstakes entries, and the grand prize winner of a $400 Visa gift card and twelve 31-day bus passes is Juan Perez of Fontana! Thanks to all who entered.

Juan Perez

Juan Perez of Fontana, the grand prize winner!

“When you first called me, I didn’t know who it was. I was at work and didn’t believe it,” Juan tells us of the surprise congratulatory phone call from Omnitrans. “After I heard the voicemail message and called back, then I thought ‘Okay, this is legit.’”

Juan first learned about the giveaway when he noticed the advertisement on an Omnitrans bus. We were pleased to know that he found out about the sweepstakes the “old school” way in an age dominated by digital and social media!

Omnitrans has been a part of the 28-year-old’s life for many years, tracing back to his days as a high school student, when he took the bus home after school. “I didn’t know all the routes back then, and I would end up getting lost sometimes,” Juan laughs as he reminisces.

These days, Juan rides Omnitrans when he and his brother feel like enjoying a day together at San Manuel Casino in Highland, or simply choose to leave their car at home.

“It’s helpful if you don’t want to take an Uber or drive yourself. It’s a lot cheaper than those options,” he says. “Or, if I want to have an [adult] beverage, I obviously don’t want to drive, and I feel safe riding Omnitrans.”

Juan is thankful to have entered the drawing, and the gift card will definitely come in handy for him this holiday season! “Thanks, Omnitrans for the prize and congratulations on your 40-year anniversary!” says a delighted Juan.

For the full list of our 40th Anniversary Sweepstakes winners, please click here.

Single Dad and Family Thrive on Freeway Express Service

We met Vincent and his family one morning while riding Route 215, one of Omnitrans’ Freeway Express routes, to Downtown Riverside. He and his two children, Jeremy and Destiny, ages 3 and 2, respectively, board the bus every morning to head from home in San Bernardino to Riverside, where he drops them off at daycare before he goes about his day.

“My car has been down for about a month now, so we ride Omnitrans every morning to Riverside and back to San Bernardino when [the kids] get out at 4 p.m.,” Vincent tells us as he holds Destiny in his lap and her brother, Jeremy, looks out the window. “It’s an efficient and quick way to get where we need to go.”

vincent

Route 215 has been a bit of a life saver for their family. In just a few weeks of riding, they have become acquainted with the drivers and grown to enjoy the experience of making the bus part of their daily routine.

“The drivers on this route are awesome and reliable. They do a great job and we never feel unsafe riding the bus,” Vincent tells us. “Not only that, but I love that the freeway express route is timely. I know exactly when the bus will depart from the San Bernardino Transit Center and I don’t have to wait around for it to arrive.”

Timeliness is key, especially when connecting to two other routes during your trip, like Vincent and his children do. All in all, they make it to daycare in about an hour, thanks to the Freeway Express route’s limited stops.

By the time we reach the second and last stop of Route 215 at the Riverside Transit Center, the two young kids are getting antsy and ready to play. “If only we all woke up with this much energy and didn’t need energy drinks or coffee in the morning!” jokes Vincent. They wave as they hop off the bus to catch their RTA connection for last leg of their trip.

Omnitrans currently operates two different freeway express routes, Route 215 from San Bernardino to Riverside via I-215, and Route 290 from San Bernardino to Montclair via I-10.

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.”