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Coach Operators recognized for safe driving record

The Omnitrans Million Mile Club has welcomed new drivers to its ranks! Fourteen coach operators are recognized this year for their achievement in safely driving 25,000 hours without a preventable accident, a feat that is accomplished over the course of 12 years. One driver has completed 50,000 driving hours over 25 years without a preventable accident, making them a 2 million mile club member.

From left to right: Salvador Soto Luna, Antoinette Meza, Jerry Milton (2 Million Mile), Michael Morrow, Dagoberto Perez, Elizabeth Samaro, Clarissa VanDyke.

“To put into perspective what each new member of the elite Million Mile Drivers Club has accomplished, consider the miles driven,” says Assistant Transportation Manager Mike DiFonzo. “The circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles. Each driver drove an equivalent of 40 trips around the earth without a chargeable accident or safety violation. What an amazing accomplishment!”

From left to right, are: Manuel Acosta, Kathleen Havey, David Castillo, and sbX driver Juan Miranda.

Each driver was presented with a special plaque, jacket, hat, belt buckle, certificate of recognition, a silver name plate, a day off with pay, and $500. Our 2 Million Mile driver also received a bonus five-day cruise to Mexico including paid time off!

Our congratulations go to these drivers for setting the standard of excellence. We are grateful for their commitment to safety as they connect our community.

1 Million Mile Coach Operators

  • Manuel Acosta
  • David Castillo
  • Kathleen Havey
  • Antoinette Meza
  • Juan Miranda
  • Michael Morrow
  • Dagoberto Perez
  • Earl Roberts
  • Elizabeth Samaro
  • Salvador Soto Luna
  • Dennail Sweatt
  • Jackie Sweatt
  • Wendell Taylor
  • Clarissa Van Dyke

2 Million Mile Coach Operators

  • Jerry Milton

To view more photos of our 2017 Million Mile Club inductees, click here.

Tips for riding on a rainy day

Heavy rains are expected throughout Southern California this weekend. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when riding Omnitrans on rainy days. Safe travels!

  • Don’t forget your umbrella. It’s been a wet winter in Southern California, so hopefully you already have yours readily available. Staying dry is key! Look around at all times to make sure you haven’t left it behind at a bus stop, or inside the bus.
  • Stay visible. Make sure that motorists and other pedestrians are able to see you while you are walking to, from, or waiting at the bus stop. Wear warm, bright clothing so that you are clearly seen in the cloudy weather.
  • Plan ahead. Because of road conditions during inclement weather, the bus may be running behind schedule. Follow us on Twitter @Omnitrans for any reported detours and download the official Omnitrans app (available on Google Play and iTunes) for real-time NexTrip bus arrivals info.

Onboard Customer Satisfaction Survey Is Here!

Share your opinion and help us better serve you! Passengers aboard our local Omnitrans routes, sbX, and Access now have the opportunity to provide feed back about our service. A customer survey is being conducted by Redhill Group Inc. now through the end of February. As an incentive, Omnitrans riders are being entered into a $500 cash drawing upon participation in the onboard survey.

If you are approached by a friendly survey staffer, feel free to answer a few questions for them. A translated survey is also available for our Spanish-speaking passengers to express their opinions. The results of this survey will be utilized in a broader study that will help us learn what we’re doing well and in what areas we have opportunities to refine our service. The feedback gathered will help us make enhancements to the Omnitrans experience, which will improve how we serve our community!

John S. and Paul O. of Redhill Group, the team surveying our onboard passengers.

2016 – An Omnitrans Year in Review

As 2016 comes to a close, Omnitrans looks back at a year that brought cause for celebration, agency innovations, and resources to better serve our community. While the list of accomplishments is lengthy, we selected six achievements that trump the rest.

San Bernardino Transit Center Turns One – Our transportation hub, the San Bernardino Transit Center, celebrated one year of operation. Since opening its doors in September 2015, nearly 5,000 passengers pass through the SBTC each weekday, connecting to Omnitrans local and express routes as well as neighboring agencies such as Mountain Transit, Victor Valley Transit Authority, and Pass Transit.

Omnitrans celebrated the milestone with a Community Day of live music, refreshments, promotional giveaways, and the Green Scenes Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest. Community members experienced the amenities of the LEED Gold Certified transit center and enjoyed the artistic talents of our participants. Take a trip down memory lane and view our photo album online.

Service to ONT Airport Commences – During fall service changes, Omnitrans Route 80 re-routed to serve Ontario International Airport for the first time in over a decade! In partnership with the airport, Route 80 now makes two stops (one at each terminal) every hour – just one of several planned enhancements to come to the West Valley area in the future.

New Partnership Opens the Bike Hubitat at SBTC – To commemorate Bike Month, Omnitrans joined forces with the Inland Empire Biking Alliance and San Bernardino Generation Now to introduce the Bike Hubitat at the SBTC. The low-cost, DIY workshop teaches community members how to maintain and repair their own bicycles under guidance of knowledgeable IEBA staff, all while utilizing the organization’s tools. The program is ongoing and Omnitrans riders can stop by the Hubitat on any Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 3-6 p.m. for a bike tune-up!

Website Gets a Mobile-Friendly Facelift – To enhance our communication experience with customers, we gave our website a much needed revamp! The creative refresh streamlined our content for easier browsing, but most importantly, our website was optimized for viewing on mobile devices – a major advantage in today’s smartphone-dominated world! If you haven’t already, be sure to visit our website at www.omnitrans.org for travel information, purchasing passes, real-time bus arrivals, and to plan your trip ahead of time.

Welcoming the Special Transportation Services Department – This year, Omnitrans welcomed a new department to our agency. Special Transportation Services (formerly Vtrans) provides one-on-one or group training for seniors and individuals with disabilities to use public transportation, and oversee the Ride Program, which allows taxi fares at a discounted rate for eligible residents who cannot use the bus, among other things.

The new department aims to create programs and provide resources that will provide senior citizens or those living with a disability easy mobility. “If we can give them back some of that freedom, then we’re improving their quality of life which is what it’s all about at the end of the day. How we can improve that is what we’re always going to advocate,” says Director Nathan Churan.

Omnitrans Celebrates 40th Anniversary – Last on our list, but certainly not least, 2016 marked our 40th year serving the San Bernardino Valley! This huge milestone was celebrated throughout the month of October, with customer appreciation giveaways at our transit centers, trivia contests on social media, and a huge online sweepstakes with 40 prizes to give away. Thank you all for celebrating with us! Take a look back at our history and what the outlook is for our next 40 years by watching our 40th Anniversary video.

On to 2017! We look forward to further enhancing transit in the San Bernardino Valley and increasing connectivity, with new Metrolink service at the San Bernardino Transit Center and additional Freeway Express routes – just to name a few of the things we have in store! Thank you for coming along on the ride with us.

A Closer Look at Omnitrans’ Growth from a Past Driver’s Perspective

Change is unavoidable, especially for a public transit agency in the ever-changing landscape of Southern California, but taking a closer look at how things were 40 years ago illustrates just how far Omnitrans has come! This month, as we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we connected with one of our original employees – Richard Breeden – who was integral in developing some important practices that are still part of our daily operations in connecting our community.

It was 1958 when Richard joined San Bernardino Valley Transit, which would become Omnitrans. After being discharged from the US Army, and a short stint at Santa Fe Railroad, Richard saw a job opening for bus drivers and decided to apply, hoping to utilize his experience as an Army driver. After completing a test drive, he was asked if he could begin the 14-day training process the next day.

“I was given a rule book to read before coming in the next day,” remembers Richard of the fast-paced process. “I had to learn all the routes, rules, regulations, operation procedures, and fares all in one night!”

Richard Breeden

Richard in action as the first bus driver trainer around the time Omnitrans was formed.

Many things were different in the transit world in those days. Base fare was 25 cents, the buses did not have wheelchair lifts, and there was no air conditioning for those hot summer days! In addition to conducting a 20-40 foot bus without power-steering, it was the driver’s duty to collect fare, sort it and run it through a changer to generate change for the next stop. Hello, forearms of steel! 

It was only Richard’s seventh day of training when he was asked to train a fellow student! Hesitantly, Richard complied with the dispatcher’s request and from that moment forward, he was no longer a student, but as a trainer.

Of course, that’s not how it works today. Four decades later, Omnitrans’ coach operators must complete five to six weeks of training and education with a certified trainer, including classroom work, behind the wheel experience, and even a state-of-the-art coach simulator with the most advanced technology.

In 1962, Richard was the employee who took the initiative to approach the city of San Bernardino to voice the need for formal training of our drivers. A few months later, a sign-up sheet was posted for anyone interested in being a trainer. Richard did not sign up.

When the transit manager asked why his name was not on the list, Richard responded that he was “happy being a bus driver.” After being convinced to add his name to the pool of applicants, he scored an interview and was selected for the newly created role.

After developing a comprehensive three-week training program that included diagrams and obstacle courses, City Hall approved Richard’s plan. The students’ training period culminated with a test created by Richard, which required a passing score of 80% or higher. Those who scored below that threshold were terminated.

Richard Breeden

Richard came back to Omnitrans for a visit last summer and posed with Old Blue, our vintage 1958 bus, which he found and was also the first to drive at special events around town.

In the years following, Richard revamped the driver’s rule book, and partnered with the National Safety Council to create the Million Mile Club for transit operators, an exclusive club for drivers who have driven 1,000,000 miles accident-free. He strengthened our partnerships with law enforcement by coordinating mutually beneficial trainings on our vehicles, and created positive relations between Omnitrans and community organizations including coordination of the first employee blood drive after a mechanic’s daughter found herself in need during surgery. The blood drive continues to this day.

Richard retired in 2000 as Fleet Safety and Training Supervisor at Omnitrans, but returned for special events to drive our 1958 vintage bus, Old Blue, which he found and drove for the first time. Although we have vastly grown from a small agency of just 29 vehicles in 1976, it is employees such as Richard who had the foresight to implement ideas that continue to impact our agency four decades later.

Celebrate With Us As Omnitrans Turns 40!

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You only turn 40 once, and we are making it count! Since first starting out in 1976, Omnitrans has traveled nearly 300 million miles in the San Bernardino Valley – that’s the equivalent of three round trips around Mars! More importantly, however, we have connected with our community along the ride and have been part of many people’s lives. Be sure to follow us on social media to be part of all the fun as we celebrate this accomplishment all month long!

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Customer Appreciation Days
Reaching our 40th anniversary is a significant milestone that would not have been possible without you – our customers – and we would like to show our gratitude. We will be hanging out at our West Valley transit centers (Chino, Montclair, Ontario) the morning of Monday, October 17th and at our East Valley transit centers (Fontana, San Bernardino) on Tuesday, October 18th with a commemorative 40th Anniversary giveaway that you don’t want to miss out on! Swing by, say hi and grab one while they last.

40th Anniversary Sweepstakes
Forty years…forty prizes! Enter our 40th Anniversary Sweepstakes for a chance to be one of our randomly selected winners. Simply visit the sweepstakes entry page*, fill out the form completely, and you will be automatically entered for a chance to win. Prizes include Farmer Boys and movie gift cards, commemorative items, and a grand prize of $400 on a Visa gift card, plus a whole year’s worth of Omnitrans passes – a deal that beats even our original bus fare of $.25 per ride!

*Paper entries are available and accepted at the San Bernardino Transit Center customer service and Omnitrans administration office desks.

40 Years of Omnitrans Trivia Contests
Join us as we look back on our accomplishments! Omnitrans has achieved many things in the last 40 years, including several 1st Place Safety Awards from the National Safety Council, and we want to celebrate with you and a good old game of trivia! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and each Monday for the rest of October we will have a new trivia question for you. All who answer correctly will be entered into a weekly drawing on Fridays for a chance to win a $40 Visa gift card!

Last Call for Memories
In 40 years, Omnitrans has grown from 29 vehicles to a fleet of 275 buses and 34 routes! That is a lot of rides that transcend generations, so tell us: do you have a fond memory of Omnitrans? Share your story and photo(s) by e-mailing onlinemktg@omnitrans.org. You may also post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #OmniTurns40. Selected stories and photos will be featured as part of our celebration this month.

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Enjoy a Free Ride During Rideshare Week 2016 & Enter to Win Prizes!

Did you know that the average Inland Empire commuter spends almost 60 hours each year in traffic? That’s like a week and a half of vacation time!

California celebrates alternative modes of transportation during Rideshare Week, happening October 3-7 this year! It’s the perfect opportunity to change up your daily commute to work or simply enjoy a leisurely outing around town in a new way.

Omnitrans is making it easy for you to participate this year and reduce your time in traffic with a FREE ride on our buses, redeemable any day and any time during Rideshare Week! This offer is redeemable on Omnitrans, sbX, or OmniGo.

coupon-on-iphone-appMobile App Coupon
If you haven’t already, download the Omnitrans mobile app on your device and click the ‘Free Ride’ tab to obtain the digital coupon. Simply show your bus driver the coupon when you board any day between October 3 and 7. The driver will then issue you one free day pass which you may use for unlimited rides on that day only. Digital app coupons may be redeemed one per customer.

Print Coupon
You may also download and print the Omnitrans free ride coupon directly from our website. Hand the coupon to your bus driver upon boarding any day between October 3 and 7, and they will issue you a free day pass for unlimited rides that day. Print coupons may be redeemed one per customer.

Rideshare Week Prize Drawings
IE Commuter, the Inland Empire’s one-stop shop for transportation information, is a great resource for information about ridesharing and the benefits of sustainable transportation methods including riding the bus, carpooling, vanpooling, bicycling, walking and telecommuting.
When you ride during Rideshare Week, you may enter to win prizes including an Ashley Furniture living room set, a one night stay at Palm Springs’ Ace Hotel & Swim Club, gift cards, and more! Simply visit www.IEcommuter.org to pledge your rideshare today, and you will automatically be entered into the drawing.

Ridesharing has proven to positively impact the individual’s finances and quality of life, as well as promote environment sustainability. Take the pledge today, enter to win prizes, and enjoy your free ride on Omnitrans this Rideshare Week 2016!

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