Category Archives: Transportation News

Omnitrans Earns Top Industry Honors in Transit Safety and Security

Omnitrans accepts APTA Bus Safety & Security Gold Awards in Louisville, Kentucky. From left: Omnitrans Director of Operations Shawn Brophy, Director of Maintenance Connie Raya, Safety & Regulatory Compliance Specialist Terry Morocco, Fleet Safety & Training Instructor Kimberly Perkins, Maintenance Supervisor Victoria Chesney, APTA President & CEO Paul Skoutelas.

Omnitrans snags the gold! We are proud to be recognized by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) for improvements made to the safety and security of our customers and employees. The Bus Safety & Security Excellence Gold Awards were presented in a ceremony held in Louisville, Kentucky on May 21.

“These awards recognize our team’s efforts to build a strong safety and security culture through constant vigilance and continual innovation,” said Omnitrans CEO P. Scott Graham. “The public entrusts us with transporting them safely and securely wherever life takes them, and that remains our top priority.”

Winning transit agencies were selected by APTA based on four criteria: project effectiveness; benefits accrued directly from the positive impact of the program; innovation; and project transferability that allows other transit systems to replicate the success.

“These award-winning public transportation programs are models of excellence in the areas of safety and security,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “The implementation of these initiatives demonstrates the ongoing commitment to improving safety and security for their passengers, employees, and communities in the public transit industry.”

On the security front, Omnitrans was lauded for its innovative creation of an amateur radio service that ensures our ability to communicate with emergency responders throughout our service area during emergency events, when cellular/mobile and landline telephone services are lost.  The Inland Valley Emergency Communications Service HAM radio group has grown from 8 members in 2015 to 22 members in 2019.

On the safety side, Omnitrans was commended for implementation of technology, equipment, and training program improvements which contributed to a 32% reduction in preventable accidents since 2012.  Efforts included the addition of audible turn signals on buses and new-generation mobility device securement equipment to all buses. Currently, Omnitrans is also piloting automated collision-avoidance technology.

Safety training innovations include a state-of-the-art bus driving simulator used by coach operator trainees to supplement classroom and behind-the-wheel training.  Omnitrans also employs two Fleet Safety Trainers who are DMV Certified Examiners, which streamlines the process to complete mandated DMV required testing needed to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License.

Omnitrans is appreciative of all the dedicated employees whose contributions have led to this prestigious industry recognition! Below is a video highlighting the improvements that garnered us this “nation’s best” award.

National #GetOnBoard Day 2019

Representing California’s 35th District, Congresswoman Norma Torres (third from right) supports National Get on Board Day.

Today we celebrate National Get on Board Day, sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Get on Board Day is a national awareness and advocacy day highlighting the many ways public transit provides economic, social, cultural, environmental, and safety benefits for all Americans.

Get on board for public transit and sign the online petition to pledge your support for investments in public transportation in the United States!

A message from Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes, representing California’s 47th Assembly District:

Why you should #GetOnBoard for public transportation (click to enlarge):

Metrolink service extends to the San Bernardino Transit Center on December 18

 

Commuting to and from downtown San Bernardino is about to get easier for you and all transit riders in the region! Beginning Monday, December 18, 2017, Metrolink service will extend to the San Bernardino Transit Center (SBTC), connecting to several Omnitrans local routes, the sbX Green Line, and neighboring transit agencies: Pass Transit, Mountain Transit, Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA), and Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) starting January 2018.

Currently, Metrolink services San Bernardino from the Santa Fe Depot. With the completion of the extension project, the Metrolink San Bernardino and Inland Empire-Orange County Lines will now extend service one mile further east to Downtown San Bernardino at the transit center located at 599 W. Rialto Ave. (Arrow, the forthcoming passenger rail service connecting San Bernardino to Redlands, will enhance rail connectivity beyond San Bernardino when it launches in early 2021.)

While Metrolink is its own entity and not operated by Omnitrans, we look forward to enhancing regional transportation through this partnership. As a reminder, your Metrolink one-way ticket is good for one free transfer to an Omnitrans bus departing a Metrolink station, including the SBTC. For the full Metrolink Transfer policy, please click here.

You can join us and the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBTCA) in celebrating the completion of this project on Tuesday, December 5 at 2:00 p.m. The event will take place in the new Park & Ride lot south of the San Bernardino Transit Center and feature raffles, food, live performances, community resources, and a showcase of Metrolink’s new clean diesel locomotive!

To begin planning your travel, refer to the Metrolink schedule and timetable. For more information on Metrolink service, visit metrolinktrains.com.

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

Female Air Force Major named Director of Operations

Diane Caldera has been appointed the new Director of Operations at Omnitrans after serving eight months as “interim.” It’s a challenge she’s excited to take on.

As Director, she will oversee more than 400 employees responsible for delivering public bus service to the San Bernardino Valley. Her department also manages transportation contracts which provide demand response services: OmniLink, a general public dial-a-ride; and, Access, for persons with disabilities.

When Diane joined the agency in 2005 as a coach operator, she quickly moved through the ranks.  Within six months she took a position in Human Resources, then returned to Operations to work as a Field Supervisor. Finally she was promoted to Assistant Transportation Manager where she spent 7 years managing and mentoring others.

“I like to take the time to talk with people and get to know them as individuals—especially our coach operators. This way I can recognize straight away when something’s bothering them and ask them about it. Their mindset plays such critical role in making sure they are mentally prepared and ready for the road that I want to help if I can.”

“Sometimes I offer advice or encourage them to get their education because they have so much potential and can move up. I want to see people succeed and always encourage them as much as possible. I like knowing that people can come to me, seek my opinion or ask for help—even outside my department. I  like having a positive impact on their lives.”

Diane didn’t have the luxury of a mentor in her own career but she figured things out on her own. Much of her learning was done the hard way, through on the job training. For the past 30 years, she has served in the Air Force and is currently a Major. Going from 17 years in enlisted service to becoming a commissioned officer in December 1999 was a huge goal for her, and now she looks forward to going before the Lieutenant Colonel Board for selection later this year.

“In the military I came up the ranks, especially in the flying career as loadmaster, in an area that was predominately male. I was one of the pioneers, one of the first women to get into that career field.  The decisions I made had a crucial impact. The error of margin for maintaining the planes center of balance was 3/10 of a percent. It was that critical. The plane could crash if it wasn’t balanced. It was very precise, very accurate and there was a lot of training involved. Just that position alone was a yearlong training.”

The skills Diane honed in the military proved invaluable in her transit career.

“The Air Force taught me a lot about time management. You learn to forecast and make decisions under pressure. And traveling to different cultures teaches you how important it is to walk in someone else’s shoes so you can better understand their perspective. It’s a good lesson that can also be applied to the workplace.”

Female Air Force Major Diane Caldera is new Director of Operations for Omnitrans

Diane also put herself through school and earned her Bachelors in Business Administration and her Masters in Human Resources. She pursued different degrees because she wanted to be well-rounded. Her business degree gave her a firm foundation in operations and finance, while HR taught her best practices in firing, hiring and labor negotiations. The combination of these skills has helped her to move up in the agency and has provided a solid groundwork for her new role as Director.

“I love the challenge,” admits Diane frankly. “As a director, you have a higher level view. Instead of being at 10,000 feet, you’re now at 25,000. You’re more involved. It’s about overseeing, streamlining, making things happen, keeping things rolling and ensuring everything is done safely. Instead of providing input, you are now the decision-maker.”

“It’s good to be in that position, but it also makes you cautious. You want to make sure you make the right decision. So you go in with an open mind, hearing all points of view and getting input from all levels before making any determination. And once you make the decision, you stand by it. You can’t be wishy-washy because it will affect how you are viewed as a leader. That was something I saw in the military through different commanders. If you couldn’t make the decision, you shouldn’t be there.”

With the launch of the new sbX rapid transit service only 9 weeks away, much of Diane’s attention is on making sure the line runs smoothly.

“sbX is a bit of a challenge because it’s new and unknown,” she explains. “Our focus is on being prepared, anticipating any issues that might arise and staying flexible so that we can adapt as needed. Right now it’s all about testing, running those coaches up and down, working with traffic lights and station platforms. We’re working on sbX coach operator training next month, so I’m excited for that.”

“Our training team is very good. They had to train themselves on sbX because they have to be the experts. Next they will be training the Field Supervisors, because they must be able to do everything as well. We have to train from the top down. Every possible thing you can think of, we have to be able to do before we can train the operators.”

“That’s why I made sure that I was able to be trained as well. I have to be able to do whatever they’re doing out there. If I can’t do it, I can’t speak to it. And I have to speak to it. I was excited to drive one of the first sbX coaches that came in. I think it’s even smoother than the 40-footer—you don’t feel the bumps in the road quite as much. You’d think there would be a drag, but there’s not. It just glides and follows. Although it’s kind of trippy when you’re making a turn and you see the back end of your coach in the mirror!”

You can read more about Diane and some of the interesting stories from her military career here.

– Juno Kughler Carlson
   juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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Omnitrans, Teamsters Agree to 3-Year Contract

Wage freeze will end in 2014

(San Bernardino, CA)— Teamsters employees at Omnitrans will see their first wage increase in six years next July, when a 2.5% raise will kick in, under terms of a new 3-year agreement. The following year wages will increase 2.75%. Agency contributions to employee benefits will also rise.

Teamsters Union Local #166 represents approximately 126 Omnitrans employees in the maintenance and administrative support units.  (Omnitrans drivers belong to the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1704.)  Teamsters members voted to approve the new contract terms in December and the Omnitrans Board of Directors ratified the contract at their January 8, 2014 meeting.  The prior contract expired on June 30, 2013.

Summary of contract terms:

Year 1: July 1, 2013- June 30, 2014

  • Wages: 0%
  • Benefit Allowance: $70.00/month increase (effective January 2014)
  • Stipend: $500

Year 2: July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015

  • Wages: 2.5% increase
  • Benefit Allowance: $55.00/month increase (effective September 2014)

Year 3: July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016

  • Wages: 2.75%
  • Benefit Allowance: $50.00/month increase (effective September 2015)

The contract also sets caps on the amount of benefit allowance money that can go into an employee deferred compensation account, if any funds are available after all benefits are paid.  The cap will be $250 per month the first year, $225 per month the second year and $200 per month the third year.

“Our Teamsters employees demonstrated their commitment to Omnitrans and Omnitrans riders, by partnering with us to control costs during bad economic times,” said Omnitrans Interim CEO/General Manager Scott Graham.  “We are pleased to be able end the wage freeze plus help offset the ever-increasing cost of healthcare through benefit contribution increases.”

Omnitrans Teamsters employees have not had a wage increase since July 2008 and have not had their benefit allowance increased since September 2010.

Wendy Williams, Director of Marketing
wendy.williams@omnitrans.org

Omnitrans After Dark

So do you ever wonder what happens here at Omnitrans after dark? Here’s a look behind-the-scenes at all the work that happens behind-the-scenes from dusk to dawn.

There have been many changes since the start of our Vehicle Maintenance Facility construction, including the installation of a temporary Fuel Island and the setup of our new parking configuration.

At 4:30 p.m., the swing crew begins their shift. There is always plenty of work to be done: preventative maintenance vehicle inspections, brake jobs, A/C repairs and more. Sometimes there are bus exchanges to work on before the buses on route return. We have more than 86 buses on route on weekdays.

Around 6:30 p.m., buses coming in the yard at the end of their day are triaged by maintenance personnel. All incoming buses will be parked heading westbound in specific lanes. By reading the Operator’s Daily Report (ODR), the triage inspector can determine whether the bus is a good bus that just needs minor servicing or if it needs an ODR repair, a scheduled inspection such as a Preventative Maintenance Vehicle Inspection (PMVI), a Critical Items Inspection (CII), an oil change service or any number of other pre-scheduled/non-scheduled services.

How does the triage inspector know where a bus is to be parked? Well he has a map; the map shows all buses that have pre-scheduled services and lanes available. This map is updated daily. All north lanes heading west are usually for buses that need to be serviced or in need of some type of repair/service. Once all maintenance repairs and inspections are completed, the bus is ready for servicing. Three times a week, contractors wash the exteriors of buses.

Next utility service workers fuel the buses, also checking the fluid levels, emptying fare boxes, sweeping and mopping the floors, and wiping down the handrails inside the bus. Having completed this process, buses are parked, starting from the south lanes, and move up until all buses are in place. Buses parked in the lanes heading eastbound, indicate they are ready for service.

At 8:30 p.m., the graveyard shift starts. They work through the night and early morning hours until they leave at 7:00 a.m. One of graveyard’s responsibilities is to certify that all coaches get a Critical Items Inspection every 2 weeks. This ensures that the coaches are safe for both drivers and passengers. Graveyard is also responsible for tracking and scheduling the Preventative Maintenance Vehicle Inspections for the day shift. The PMVI’s are a bit more extensive than the CII’s and are conducted every 10,000 miles. Graveyard also does tune ups, fluid services and continues to work on carry-over repairs as well. Graveyard shift also ensures all coaches have been fueled and that enough buses are ready for dispatch to start assignments for pull-outs starting at 3:30 a.m.

It can be a difficult task when you consider that the east valley facility has approximately 90-100 coaches that need to be ready for service at any given day of the week. On average 80 to 100 buses are repaired, inspected and serviced nightly. Numerous parts are installed, countless small and large repairs are completed, various inspections are done, thousands of gallons of fuel, oils and fluids are dispensed. All this is done while most of us are quietly at home asleep. And that’s what happens every day at Omni after dark.

– article by Timothy Drake, Mike Plunkett and Oscar Tostado
– photos by Juno Kughler Carlson 

Thank you to mechanic Manny Cruz for allowing us to shadow him for these photos!

New Omnitrans Board Chair and Vice Chair

Board Chair Alan Wapner

Ontario Councilmember Alan Wapner takes the helm of the Omnitrans Board  of Directors effective July 1, 2013. Rancho Cucamonga Mayor Pro Tem Sam Spagnolo was elected to  Vice Chair at the June 5 Board meeting. Both will serve a two-year term.

Wapner succeeds Board Chair Dick Riddell, a Yucaipa Councilmember. The 20-member  Omnitrans Board consists of the County Board of Supervisors and elected officials representing the  15 cities Omnitrans serves.

Wapner has served as an Omnitrans Board Member or Alternate since May 2000. He was appointed Chair of the Administrative and Finance Committee in July 2010. Wapner has been on the  Ontario City Council for over 18 years. He is known in the region as an expert on transportation  planning and has served on the League of California Cities and the National League of Cities, San Bernardino Associated Governments and numerous other regional boards. He is currently Ontario International Airport Authority President.

Vice Chair Sam Spagnolo

Spagnolo was appointed to Board of Directors in February 2011 and served on the Plans & Programs Committee. First elected to the Rancho Cucamonga City Council in 2004, he also serves on the League of California Cities Employee Relations Policy Committee, as Chair of the Inland Empire Task Force, and Vice-Chair of the Foothill Freeway Corridor Design Authority.

“I look forward to guiding the Board as we strive to ensure that Omnitrans continues to operate effectively and efficiently within a financially constrained environment.” said Wapner. “The people of the San Bernardino Valley desire and deserve a quality public transportation network, including new service like the sbX line, to improve regional mobility.”

– Wendy Williams, Omnitrans Director of Marketing
   wendy.williams@omnitrans.org

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Obama Talks Transit

This morning APTA President and CEO, Michael Melaniphy, expressed the organization’s support of President Obama’s call for transportation infrastructure investment.

“On behalf of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and its 1,500 members across the country, I applaud President Obama for highlighting the connection between American jobs and transportation infrastructure investment in his State of the Union speech.  President Obama’s call to undertake fix-it first projects for aging infrastructure, as well as invest in high-speed rail, underscores the critical importance of transportation.  Clearly, transportation is the backbone of a thriving economy that is essential to ensuring that the United States is globally competitive. “

Melaniphy believes that public transportation has an important role to play in promoting a prosperous and growing economy. “The public transportation industry is a $57 billion industry with nearly 400,000 employees,” he pointed out. “For every $1 billion invested in public transportation, 36,000 jobs are created and supported, not just at public transit systems, but also in businesses in the public transit supply sector.”

In addition to creating and supporting American jobs, investment in public transportation  also provides access to jobs. Nearly 60 percent of the trips taken on public transportation are taken for work commutes. 

The White House has created the infographic below, illustrating how transportation investment will improve our nation’s infrastructure and put Americans back to work. Click the image to enlarge.