Category Archives: Travel Training Bus

First Year Aboard The Travel Training Bus

The Omnitrans Travel Training Bus was the brainchild of outreach specialist Nicole Ramos, seen here giving a presentation to a senior group.

It all started with bad news.

Omnitrans’ travel training bus program was the first-of-its-kind for a transit agency when we introduced it a year ago. Since then, we have introduced 750 people to public transportation, and generated nearly 350 trips. But the program was inspired a bit more by frustration than inspiration.

The Omnitrans Travel Training Bus

“Omnitrans wanted to explore the travel training concept for some time, but we just didn’t have the resources, and it became obvious that our budget wasn’t going to allow individualized training for quite a while, if ever,” shares Community Outreach Specialist Nicole Ramos. “At the same time, I was going out and conducting group presentations with just me talking – boring! And the question I was asked most, ‘Can you bring a bus out here with you?,’ I always had to answer ‘No,’ because our fleet buses all are committed to routes or reserves.”

Working with students at the Moreno School in Montclair

Nicole started thinking – “wishing, really,” she says – about how nice it would be to have a bus that was dedicated just to community outreach. And if there were a dedicated bus, then couldn’t it be modified a bit to allow videos to be shown and presentations to be made on board? And then, since there is a bus and it seats 40, couldn’t you use it to do some group travel training?

“It just kind of snowballed from there,” Nicole says. “I was talking to my director about it and said, ‘I’d like to do this someday,’ and she said, ‘Why not now? Look into grant opportunities.’ So I did.”

A practice run at TELACU Senior Apartments in San Bernardino

Seven months and one Federal Transit Administration JARC/New Freedom grant later, the travel training bus rolled into being. Omnitrans used a 40’, fixed-route bus that had been scheduled for retirement. A new farebox was purchased for the bus, along with video monitors, a DVD player/radio system, and wireless microphone. The training session incorporates an agency video, a brief presentation, hands-on practice with features including the farebox, stop requested and enunciator systems, and plenty of Q & A time. Audiences can include senior citizens, students, people with disabilities, and commuters.

Working with students at San Bernardino Valley College

Of course, no project succeeds alone. Though the idea began in Marketing, Omnitrans’ Operations department also is a partner in the project; its fleet safety and training instructors drive the bus to presentation locations and answer procedural questions. Valley Transportation Services (VTrans), a new local agency which provides one-on-one travel training for seniors and people with disabilities, also participates in training sessions for those who may need additional assistance.

Nicole Ramos and Fleet & Safety Training Instructor Stephen McClure greet newcomers to the Travel Training Bus

Plans for the program include an updated, more interactive, bilingual training video, additional vehicle equipment, and expansion to new audiences including middle schools. There have been some ups and downs – “I once drove people from the bus with my horrific microphone feedback, and we’ve loaded folks into a bus for a ride to show them how wonderful public transit is in a bus with a dead battery,” laughs Nicole – but all in all, Omnitrans is pretty proud of its first year of service. As Nicole says, “At the end of the day, more people are trying the bus, and that’s what it’s all about.”

The Travel Training Bus is equipped with video monitors, a DVD player/radio system, and wireless microphone for multimedia presentations.

About The Omnitrans Travel Training Bus Program

Omnitrans is the only transit agency to have its own Travel Training Bus designed to educate people in new rider basics. The training bus and outreach trainer are available by request to local community groups of including seniors, students, commuters, and those with special needs. Here are the particulars:

  • Travel training is FREE!
  • Travel training is group training, and designed for groups of at least 12
  • Travel training can be scheduled Tuesday through Thursday, from 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
  • The training presentation lasts approximately 45 min. – 1 hr.; limited customization is available depending upon group needs
  • Community members who attend and participate in the full training presentation will receive a complimentary Omnitrans bus pass 

For further information, or to schedule a travel training session, please contact Community Outreach Specialist Nicole Ramos at (909) 379-7155 or nicole.ramos@omnitrans.org.

Seniors learn bus riding basics

This morning Omnitrans outreach specialist Nicole Ramos and fleet training & safety instructor Stephen McClure visited TELACU Senior Apartments with our travel training bus to teach residents new rider basics.


Residents were able to climb on board to learn how to use the fare box, read the bus book and and alert the driver to their desired stop. They learned about the NexTrip real-time bus arrival prediction app and how they can phone the Omnitrans customer service center to help them plan their trip. At the end of the training, the seniors were given a free 7-Day Bus Pass so they could try the bus service for themselves.

Vtrans was also on hand to offer information on their one-on-one rider training to residents.


To find out how you can book the Omnitrans Travel Training Bus to teach new rider basics to your community group, please contact Nicole Ramos at nicole.ramos@omnitrans.org

You can view more photos of today’s travel training bus event on Flickr.

 

Travel Training Eases New Rider Anxiety

“Omnitrans is important to me because it’s my only transportation. I rely on it for everything–doctor’s appointments, going to the store, basically anywhere I need to go,” said Barbara Cohen, a 65-year-old Rialto resident and regular bus passenger.

For the past 25 years, Barbara has been confined to a power-chair due to a disability. At first she relied on Access demand-response service for persons with disabilities, but eventually found it was too expensive to use regularly. Instead of paying $2.75 per trip for Access, she now buys a 10-pack of fixed route fares for Senior/Disabled riders at only $15.50 which lasts her the entire month.

Making the move from the Access Bus to a fixed route service felt overwhelming and a bit intimidating to Barbara at first. To help her make the transition, she decided to sign up for a travel training class with Vtrans, an agency that provides individual travel training services to seniors and those with disabilities . With the help of an instructor, she was able to practice how to safely board and disembark the bus, how to secure her chair, and how to use the farebox. She also learned how to plan a route, identify landmarks, make stops and transfers and how to communicate any special needs t0 her bus driver.

“It really helped me to feel more confident because I knew firsthand what to expect,” said Barbara. “I recommend travel training to all first time riders–especially powerchair users.”

- Juno Kughler Carlson

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Email Juno Kughler Carlson at  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

VTrans offers free travel training program

Are you interested in riding the bus, but aren’t sure how? Let VTrans help you navigate public transportation.

VTrans offers a no–cost, one-on-one Travel Training program for seniors and persons with disabilities to assist them with learning how to use public transportation. Professionally skilled Travel Trainers will meet with you at home or another location to discuss where you want to go and your uncertainty with riding the bus.

Travel Training will show you how to plan out a route, get to the bus stop safely, pay the bus fare, identify landmarks, transfer to other buses, and proper bus etiquette. They will also accompany you on your route until you feel comfortable to take the trip on your own.

During training, the cost of bus fare is free to you and they will provide you with an incentive to continue riding the bus after training. Their trainers are familiar with various disabilities and will work with you to overcome barriers to riding public transportation. Group training is available to those interested in traveling with their friends.

Let VTrans show you how riding public transportation can work for you! Call them today to speak with a mobility specialist who can help you get to where you want to go. For more information please call  909-981-5099 or visit them on the web at www.vtrans.us.com.

Enter our contest for a chance to win a free bike valued at $900!

You could win a 2012 Charge Zester Fitness Bike!

On Wednesday, August 15th from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., Omnitrans will hosting a community celebration to introduce its new brand identity. The event is at Omnitrans’ 4th Street Transfer Center San Bernardino, on the south side of 4th Street, between F & G Streets, in the Carousel Mall parking area. View details here.

The public is invited to view the latest additions to our fleet, the New Flyer Xcelsior buses, sporting updated vehicle graphics with our new colors and logo. A standout feature of the new buses is the much anticipated triple bike rack, which will allow the vehicles to transport three bikes instead of the normal two.

To celebrate, Performance Bicycle in Ontario is partnering with Omnitrans to sponsor a Rack ‘N Roll bike contest at the event, where participants will enter for a chance compete in a timed race to load a bike onto the rack.

Entry/practice time is between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m.  Participants not selected to compete will be entered into a second chance drawing. You must be present at the time of the drawing in order to win.

Bike contest prizes include:

  • First Prize: 2012 Charge Zester Fitness Bike or equivalent exchange ($900 value)
  • Second Prize : $150 Performance Bicycle gift card
  • Third Prize : Two Omnitrans 31-Day Bus Passes ($94 value)
  • “Second Chance” Drawing Prize: $50 Performance Bicycle gift card
  • Entry Prize:  All entrants will receive an Omnitrans 1-Day Pass ($4 value)

About performance bicycles

Performance Bicycles is America’s leading multi-channel bicycle dealer, successfully serving cyclists’ needs for 30 years. With an unrivaled inventory of more than 10,000 products available through their catalog and website, and a continuing commitment to providing value, education, expert advice and professional service to the cycling community, they are the premier destination for people who love to ride bikes.

Travel Training Bus educates new riders

This month, Omnitrans launches its exclusive travel training bus which will be used for community outreach to help educate people in new rider basics. Features of the new bus include video screens, a PA system and new fare box.

This hands-on training tool will allow people to experience firsthand what they can expect when boarding a bus for the first time and help ease the anxiety that sometimes accompanies new riders. The training bus and outreach trainer are available by request to local community groups including seniors, students and those with special needs. For more information or to reserve a booking, you may email our outreach specialist, Nicole Ramos at nicole.ramos@omnitrans.org.

We also invite you to join us for our Rebrand Launch on August 15th for the official unveiling of the travel training bus,  along with our New Flyer Xcelsior buses.  There will be music, food, giveaways and a  bike contest with some amazing prizes! The festivities begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Carousel Mall 4th Street parking lot between F & G Streets. Click here for details.