Category Archives: Student Riders

A faster way for UCR students to get to class from San Bernardino on public transit

If you’re a University of California, Riverside (UCR) Highlander commuting from the San Bernardino region, you may have an easier, faster way to get to school this quarter!

Omnitrans Freeway Express Route 215 departs toward Downtown Riverside from the San Bernardino Transit Center every 20/30 minutes on weekday mornings. You’ll arrive at the University and Lemon stop in Downtown Riverside in just 25 minutes – perfect for finishing up a last minute assignment or squeezing in some extra studying for that midterm!

Once in Downtown Riverside, connect to RTA’s new RapidLink Gold Line heading northbound, which takes you directly to the UCR campus. The new RapidLink line runs every 15 minutes Monday-Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., and from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. if you have afternoon or evening classes. Travel time to UCR from this point is 17 minutes.

You might already know that UCR students ride RTA FREE with the U-PASS program. But did you know that Omnitrans offers fare savings with 7, and 31 day passes available for students? Click here for details!

Welcome back to school, and have a great start to the new year!

Student vet pursues his dreams

Jonathan Price joined the Army at 18 after he lost his job at Macys. He worked as a unit supply specialist for three years. When he was released from service in 2010 and transitioned back to civilian life, he was unprepared for the changes that had taken place.

“When you’re in the military, you’re living in a sort of protected bubble, separate from the rest of the world,” said Jonathan. “You receive your paycheck like clockwork every other week, and your expenses never really change. And you don’t have to worry about rent or a car or anything like that. You’re pretty insulated. I had always assumed that when I got out there would be lots of opportunities for vets, but it wasn’t like that at all. There was a recession going on and it was extremely hard to find work. That was a huge eye-opener.”

He began looking into 4-year colleges but found them to be too expensive to fit his budget. Then he found San Bernardino Valley Community College, which he felt would give him a good basic foundation of classes to build on. The Go Smart Program was additional bonus. As a student enrollee, he would be eligible for unlimited rides on Omnitrans for a per-semester fee of less than $10.

“Go Smart definitely has had a tremendous impact on my life. The $10 fee is nothing compared to what I would have had to pay monthly. It saves me a lot of money. Now I can just swipe my student I.D. and take the bus to school, to my job at the Family Dollar store and anywhere else I need to go. It’s great because I’m not comfortable carrying cash around.”

Jonathan has now been taking classes Valley College for the past 1 ½ years. He’s found that his military training has helped him stay focused.

“You learn in the military to adapt to unexpected changes and not to take things personally. If I have to switch my schedule for some reason or can’t get a class I had planned on, I just take it in stride. I never worry about liking or not liking an instructor. I don’t harbor those kinds of emotions. My focus is simply to get it done and get out.”

Jonathan has also started a new hobby—growing plants. “It really surprised my girlfriend,” he laughs. “But I enjoy it and find it relaxing. I really want to start a garden.”

His long-term goal is to make a difference in his community. He eventually hopes to work in communications and public relations, helping those who couldn’t normally afford those services.

“My dream is to one day own and operate my own PR firm,” said Jonathan. “I’d really like to help small businesses get their name out there without robbing them. PR agencies are generally very expensive, and geared towards larger companies. I want to be able to work with small businesses and help them succeed in the marketplace.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson
   juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

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Chaffey Offers New Club for Student Veterans

In fall of 2011, Chaffey Community College partnered with Omnitrans to bring the Go Smart program to its college campus, making it possible for students to take unlimited rides on Omnitrans for a per-semester fee of less than $10.

Now Chaffey is taking the lead in another exciting new program. This semester, in an effort to support the veteran branch of its student population, the Chaffey College Veterans Club was formed. The club is an opportunity for members to collaborate on activities and projects, as well as learn about other groups on campus they can get involved with.

“It lets other students see that our vets have a lot to offer,” said the club’s faculty advisor Daniel Keener. “As an English teacher, I had a lot of vets coming to class and writing narratives about their experiences. I had never been exposed to that before. They had very powerful stories to tell and needed help finding their voice. The Chaffey College Veterans Club provides a supportive environment to explore that.”

This month the club has several student activities planned:

  • November 12th – One Book, One College in partnership with Associated Students of Chaffey College (ASCC) is holding a celebration/recognition for our veterans. Event will be held on campus at the Wignall Museum from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m.
  • November 13th – One Book, One College, headed by Professor Julie LaMay, will be hosting several Vietnam War veterans who will give round table discussions about their experiences during the war. Event will be held on campus at the Wignall Museum from 12:30 to 2 p.m.
  • November 14th – Club faculty advisor Daniel Keener will be hosting a movie screening of The War Tapes, a documentary made by soldiers during their deployment in Iraq.

“This is a really great bunch of people,” said Keener. “And we have a lot of fun together. I feel like I’ve learned a lot about life from their stories. When you go through what some of them have been through, it’s incredibly difficult to come back from that to a mundane everyday existence. It’s doubly hard for this group, because they are transitioning not only to civilian life, but to student life as well. I like being there for them on that journey.”

For more information on the Chaffey College Veterans Club and their activities, contact Daniel Keener at Daniel.keener@chaffey.edu.

 

OmniGo Ridership on the Rise

Community bus routes attract more students. 

(San Bernardino, CA)— OmniGo hometown shuttle routes serving Chino Hills, Grand Terrace and Yucaipa are more crowded these days, with September ridership up 44 percent compared to the prior year, mostly attributed to more middle school and high school students climbing aboard.

“We made a concentrated effort to reach out to potential student riders at the beginning of the school year,” explained Omnitrans Director of Marketing Wendy Williams, “and it paid off.  August ridership was up nearly 10 percent ahead of last year, but things really took off in September. ”

OmniGo Route Sept. 2013 Ridership Gain from Sept. 2012
308-Yucaipa 1,762 +44.4%
309-Yucaipa 3,966 +24.4%
310-Yucaipa 1,212 +373.4%
325-Grand Terrace 1,834 +67.9%
365-Chino Hills 5,947 +32.9%
Total 14,721 +43.9%

OmniGo routes travel to major destinations in each community, connecting residents to schools, civic centers, senior centers, medical facilities and shopping destinations.  OmniGo utilizes 16-passenger buses that can more easily maneuver residential streets than typical transit buses.  Each OmniGo route meets up with traditional Omnitrans bus routes at transfer hubs to reach destinations throughout the Inland Empire. OmniGo route and schedule information is available at: http://www.omnitrans.org/services/omnigo/

Conflicting family work schedules and limited transportation is challenge for many families these days, especially with getting teens to school.  “I just started taking OmniGo as a freshman last year,” said Jessica a student at Chino Hills High School. “Most of my friends ride too. Both of my parents work so it’s the only way I can get here.”

Her friend Yahaira agreed. “It gets really full sometimes but, aside from that, it’s not bad. It’s a short bus, so it’s kind of fun. My mom works at a store in Chino and has to drive to work early in the morning, and there’s no one else to give me a ride. Since the school is 2 or 3 miles from my house, I just take the bus.”

“It’s great that students are taking advantage of OmniGo’s convenient connections at our schools,” said Chino Hills Vice Mayor and Omnitrans Board member Ed Graham.  “Fewer cars on the road benefit all of us.”

In Grand Terrace, OmniGo attracted more than two thirds additional riders this year. “Route 325 was designed to serve Grand Terrace High School, even before the campus opened,” explained Grand Terrace Mayor Walt Stanckiewitz and Omnitrans Board member.  “This year, student ridership has blossomed.  OmniGo also is a great resource for our senior citizens.”

Lee Roy Simmons

Lee Roy Simmons, a resident of Blue Mountain Senior Villas in Grand Terrace, is a familiar face on Omnigo Route 325. “I ride the loop most mornings,” he says. “I like the drivers. Most of them know me, and we talk during stop layovers.” Lee is also a former Marine Sergeant who fought in Vietnam. “I ride to the VA hospital in Loma Linda all the time for treatments.”

With three shuttle routes, (308, 309 and 310) operating in the city, Yucaipa generates the most OmniGo ridership.  Route 310 boardings nearly quadrupled in September versus the same month in 2012.

OmniGo fares are the same as on regular Omnitrans buses: $1.50 for a one-way trip or $4 for a one-day pass.  Regular riders can save with 7- and 31-day passes.  Discounts are available for youth age 18 and under, persons with disabilities and seniors age 62 and up.  Personalized trip planning is available at www.omnitrans.org or 1-800-966-6428.

Savvy Mom Goes Smart

Erica Clendenen and her oldest son Isaiah

Pursuing a college degree as a 43-year-old divorced mom of three on a tight budget can be challenging—especially when you don’t drive.

But that’s not stopping Omnitrans rider Erica Clendenen, who is currently working on her associates degree at San Bernardino Valley College and plans to pursue her bachelors in social work at Cal State University, San Bernardino. Although she tries to take her courses online whenever possible to keep costs down, several of them require live classroom training.  Thanks to the Go Smart program, she can easily get to her classes—and anywhere else she needs to go—by riding the bus for free with just her student ID.

Chelsea Clendenen grabs a quick bite at the bus stop

“I couldn’t do this without Go Smart,” admits Erica frankly. “I have three children ages 8, 10 and 15, so getting around can be very expensive for us as a family.  Having my own bus fare covered by the program helps us tremendously.”

Erica’s kids have been riding Omnitrans for so many years that they know all the stops and routes by heart. Her youngest loves the bus and enjoys saying hello to the drivers. Erica herself is a technology buff and a huge fan of NexTrip.

“I’m obsessed with the NexTrip app!” she laughs. “I’m on it more than games or anything else on my cell phone. Before, I was always missing the bus. Now I set alerts to notify me two minutes in advance of when the bus is arriving.  I love it! I’m pretty impatient and don’t like sitting at the stop. With NexTrip, I can do some shopping at the grocery store instead of just waiting around.”

Like many Omnitrans riders, Erica has a heightened sense of community and a strong desire to make a difference.

Elijah Clendenen waits for the bus

“My goal is to work with troubled teens when they first get into the court system—to help them turn their lives around. It’s so easy for kids to get involved with gangs and drugs and guns. I’m thankful that my 15-year-old is a homebody. He’s an honors student and would rather be at home playing his video games than out on the street. But some of his friends have been in trouble, and it’s really hard. We’re losing too many young men to the street. They need someone to believe in them. They need to know that even though your neighborhood or living situation might not be great, you can choose to go forward and make a better life. It’s all about making good choices.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Clean Air Award for Omnitrans Go Smart Program

Accepting the Clean Air Award, from left, is Omnitrans Interim CEO/General Manager Scott Graham, Board Chair and Ontario Councilmember Alan Wapner, and Director of Marketing Wendy Williams.

(San Bernardino, CA)— A pilot program that more than doubled the number of local college students using public transit and eliminated an estimated 129 tons of pollution earned Omnitrans a Clean Air Award from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, presented on October 4, 2013.

In 2011-12, Omnitrans initiated the “Go Smart” pilot program dedicated to transitioning local college students in the San Bernardino Valley to using public transit rather than driving to get to campus. Omnitrans partnered with California State University-San Bernardino, Chaffey College, Crafton Hills College, and San Bernardino Valley College to offer free, unlimited bus rides to over 50,000 college students. Approximately 1,450,000 trips were made by over 13,500 individual students in pilot year.

Students had unlimited access to the Omnitrans bus system with a simple swipe of their college ID card. During a typical week, 5,100 unique students rode Omnitrans which means that over 10% of students became regular transit riders, up from 4% prior to the program. Over 25% of enrolled students tried the program at least once.  Subsequently, ongoing self-funded Go Smart programs were established at each of the pilot program colleges and student ridership continues to increase over a year later.

“Go Smart helps reduce transportation costs for students and removes lack of transportation as a barrier to education for some,” said Interim CEO/General Manager Scott Graham.  “Gaining familiarity with public transit while a student also makes them more likely to use and support public bus service in the future,”

During the pilot year Go Smart student logged 8.7 million cumulative miles! By taking public transportation instead of driving, this removed an estimated 129.2 tons of carbon monoxide from the air while also reducing the levels of reactive organic gases, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter. Side benefits included reduced traffic congestion near the partner colleges and reduced parking demand on campus and in surrounding neighborhoods.

“Each year, we honor businesses and individuals who work unrelentingly to improve the quality of the air,” said SCAQMD Governing Board Chairman William A. Burke, Ed.D. “These inspiring winners have set an example of commitment and determination for all of us.”

The pilot program was funded by partner colleges and each of the 15 cities and county in the Omnitrans service area, using monies earmarked for emission reduction projects.

Facebook contest offers LLU students prizes

Welcome back Loma Linda University Students! It’s time to Get on Board for the future sbX Bus Rapid Transit service and Omnitrans wants to celebrate your return to campus by launching a month-long gift card contest.

During the month of October, registered students who “like” our project Facebook page will be automatically entered into a weekly drawing exclusively for LLU students. Students will be prompted to fill out an electronic entry form through a link to Offerpop.com.

Winners will receive a $25 gift card/certificate to either of two Loma Linda restaurants: BK Subs, 10540 Anderson St.; and Napoli Italian Restaurant, 24960 Redlands Blvd. The contest was promoted at the Omnitrans information table at the Sept. 23 Welcome Back Bash on Campus and via campus e-mail.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE CONTEST!

Construction of the first of 10 sbX corridors is scheduled for completion by the end of this year and passenger service for the 15.7-mile route is set for April 2014. The service will travel along the existing Omnitrans Route 2, from the VA Loma Linda Health Care System to Kendall Drive and Palm Avenue in northern San Bernardino. The new service will run every 10 minutes during peak hours, with stops at 16 locations, including two station platforms at Anderson and Prospect streets, which

The winning entries will be selected on October 4, 11, 18 and 25 and notified by e-mail.  Good luck and enjoy our project Facebook page!

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http://facebook.com/omnitrans.sbx