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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!”

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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.

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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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CSUSB Students Head Back To School with Go Smart

The Coyotes are back on campus at Cal State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) this fall for the new school year, and Omnitrans’ Go Smart program continues to make navigating college life easier for students in our service area!

Students at GoSmart schools are entitled to unlimited rides during the school year, with just a simple swipe of their valid student ID card. And they can ride not only on school days, but any day and time of the week! For a complete list of partner schools, click here.

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Rosa, an English major, at the CSUSB sbX station. She is working toward becoming a teacher in her hometown of San Bernardino as a way of giving back to her community.

Rosa, a fifth-year English major at the university, takes advantage of the unlimited rides available to her as a GoSmart student every single day of the week. She has been riding Omnitrans the majority of her time at CSUSB, and it has proven to be a wallet-friendly choice.

“I totally ditched my car and left it at home,” says Rosa, who has a car she could drive to school every day, but has found that riding Omnitrans is the more convenient, money-saving option for her. “I don’t have to pay for a parking pass, which is really expensive.”

Rosa began riding our fixed-route system, but when sbX  rapid transit service was introduced , she has not only continued to save money, but also time since the bus makes fewer stops. “Now that there is sbX, which is faster, I don’t have to wait to get home,” Rosa shares. “It has cut my [commute] time by more than half.”

Similarly, chemistry major Joseph Barrera relies on Omnitrans for transportation to school every weekday.

“This is how I get here from Redlands every day,” says Joseph of Go Smart. “It’s pretty good!”

Riding Omnitrans from downtown Redlands, Joseph connects to the sbX Green Line at the San Bernardino Transit Center daily as he completes his third year of schooling. Joseph is not alone – many of his peers also utilize public transportation as they work toward achieving their academic goals.

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Go Smart students boarding Route 2 at CSUSB.

“Omnitrans’ four routes with direct service to CSUSB are essential to student success,” says Thomas W. Gaffery, director of parking & transportation at CSUSB. “The GoSmart program allows our students to save money on gas and a parking permit, as well as enhancing CSUSB’s commitment to sustainability.”

Saving time and money while decreasing your carbon footprint – Go Smart is definitely the convenient way to go! To plan your trip, check out our route and schedule information online.

Veteran Passenger Benefits from New Connection at SBTC

We gathered on Wednesday, September 14th for the official unveiling of Pass Transit’s Route 120 connection at the San Bernardino Transit Center. The new stop for the commuter route has only been in effect for less than one week, but has already improved mobility of residents such as Vaughn Palmer.

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Vaughn Palmer and Brenda Knight, City of Beaumont Councilmember at the San Bernardino Transit Center.

Vaughn, a Beaumont resident, is a disabled veteran of our armed forces who travels to the Loma Linda VA Hospital several times a month to get health care. Riders receive a free Omnitrans connection at the SBTC when connecting from Pass Transit, which makes it possible for Vaughn to reach new destinations.

“I live in Beaumont and I’m going on full disability, so getting beyond San Bernardino or Loma Linda if I wanted to do it, I couldn’t catch the bus because it didn’t stop [here]. I use this bus all the time to go the VA hospital, but now with this connection I can go anywhere I’d like,” Vaughn said. “I can’t drive, so the bus systems make it a whole lot easier.”

Prior to this week, the nearest connection was at the Metrolink station in San Bernardino, a 24 minute walk to the Transit Center. In fact, Vaughn tells us of a disabled rider who had to travel that distance on his wheelchair to connect with Omnitrans.

“He would have to get off at the train station and come all the way up [to the Transit Center] on his electric wheelchair. But now he gets off here and goes straight to his bus. That’s a big help for those who are handicapped.”

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City of Beaumont officials and staff at the new connection’s unveiling.

Brenda Knight, City of Beaumont Councilmember is pleased that residents who rely on public transit are able to extend their transportation network. “What’s so very, very wonderful about this is that it opened up a new world to get out of Beaumont and to be able to have access to so many, many other areas and it’s just really exciting. I was in on the beginning of the Route 120 and so to see it come this far is absolutely phenomenal,” she says.

Vaughn looks forward to exploring new cities in the San Bernardino Valley with his mother, who is also disabled, now that the partnership between Pass Transit and the SBTC has made heading west easier for them.

For more information about Omnitrans’ reduced bus fare and passes for Veterans, visit Omnitrans.org.

San Bernardino Transit Center Now Connects to Beaumont, Calimesa

Now you can snag a great bargain at the Cabazon Outlets and catch a ride all the way back to San Bernardino! Pass Transit, the system serving Beaumont, Banning, Calimesa, Cherry Valley and Cabazon, is now offering service to the San Bernardino Transit Center beginning today.

Commuter Route 120, running Monday through Saturday, now serves Beaumont to Calimesa, the San Bernardino Transit Center, San Bernardino Metrolink and Loma Linda VA Hospital before returning east. For a detailed look at Route 120, click here.

This new connection is a vital enhancement to the transit network within the Inland Empire, now linking the San Gorgonio Pass to the San Bernardino Valley. It also adds to the diversity of the San Bernardino Transit Center, which offers connections to the neighboring mountains, the high desert, and in the coming years, Metrolink rail service and Redlands Passenger Rail service.

Special Transportation Services Department Aims to Improve Quality of Life

Earlier this year, Omnitrans welcomed the Special Transportation Services (STS) department, formerly known as Valley Transportation Services. STS provides a number of services for senior citizens and people with disabilities, including one-on-one travel training on Omnitrans’ fixed route system. The department also oversees the Transportation Reimbursement Escort Program (TREP) (also known as Volunteer Driver Program), another initiative that makes it easy for eligible individuals to be transported by a friend or relative, who is then reimbursed for trip mileage. Finally, the department’s RIDE program partners Omnitrans with taxi and Lyft services, providing fares at a discounted rate for those who are unable to ride our existing bus service.

The team is lead by Director Nathan Churan, whose vision for the department is to provide innovative transportation options for seniors and individuals with disabilities in the communities which we serve.

The Special Transportation Services department.

Nathan explains that one of the agency’s biggest issues is “first-mile/last-mile,” a common issue in transit regarding the efficiency of getting customers from a transit center or centralized location to their final destination, particularly in less urban areas. For senior citizens and those living with a disability, it can be particularly challenging. “This is a problem that our RIDE partnership with Lyft and taxis, which we’re going to develop and build, can alleviate,” says Nathan.

While the RIDE partnership is a convenience, it presents another complication for those who may not have a smart phone. Nathan has a solution. “There is an app called GoGoGrandparent, where a senior can pick up the phone and request a ride, and the message is sent out to Uber and Lyft,” explains Nathan.

GoGoGrandparent connects the rider to a Lyft or taxi pickup. Because the drivers are aware that the request comes from a GoGoGrandparent user, they are able to provide a higher level of customer service for customers. “The best part is, the senior never even needs to use a smart phone, so this will allow us to really reach that demographic,” explains Nathan.

Elias Camara and Esteban Villegas, Paratransit Eligibility Technicians. They conduct the in-person assessments of applicants who are inquiring about Access, a service for people unable to independently use our fixed route bus service. The technicians determine whether the clients can get to and from a bus stop, if not, one of our special transportation services intervenes and assists anyone who requires being picked up at their home location and transported to their destination.

Future goals include creating partnerships with local senior centers in the county as part of the department’s senior mobility management pilot program. Nathan reveals that after the planning and outreach phase, the department hopes to award contracts to partner senior centers to begin offering some direct services. This will be of great benefit to our community of senior citizens, especially as it relates to their health care transportation needs.

Special Transportation Services’ focus is on improving quality of life for the senior citizen community and those living with disabilities through innovative transportation programs. To become more familiar with their work, and learn how to take advantage of these services, please visit their new webpage on Omnitrans.org.

Guide to September Service Changes

School is back in session, the leaves will be changing color soon, and the new Bus Book is here!

With service changes effective on Tuesday, September 6th comes long-awaited direct service into Ontario International Airport. Taking into consideration the feedback received from riders and operators, Route 80 will now make two stops directly in front of Terminals 2 and 4. To preserve travel time, Route 80 will no longer be traveling west on Holt Blvd. to Euclid and Sultana Aves. in downtown Ontario (please see the updated map below).  Not to worry, though! Route 61 will continue providing service westbound to downtown Ontario.

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While there aren’t any major changes to report for our other routes, minor adjustments have been made to the following routes, so be sure to check your schedule before you travel!

Route 14:  Weekday and Sunday schedules have been adjusted for A.M. transfers with Route 61 in Fontana.

Route 19:  Weekday schedule adjusted for improved transfers with Route 8 at Crafton Hills College.

Route 67:  Early AM tripper service to Etiwanda High School has been eliminated. The 3:32 PM tripper will remain.

Route 80:  Service has been added to Ontario International Airport, via Holt and Airport Drive.  Service has been discontinued to downtown Ontario.

Route 82:  Weekday schedule has been adjusted to help serve Summit High School.

Route 290 Freeway Express: Service has been expanded to include more mid-day trips.

In other exciting news, Pass Transit, serving Beaumont, Banning, Calimesa, Cherry Valley and Cabazon, will offer service to the San Bernardino Transit Center beginning September 14! You can get more info here.

Minor changes also have been made to the following routes:

Weekdays:  Routes 8, 11, 14, 19, 80, 82, 83, 84 and 325.

Saturday: Routes 80, 83 and 84.

Sunday:  Routes 14, 80, 83 and  84.

Get a preview of the September Bus Book here.

Celebrating the San Bernardino Transit Center’s 1st Anniversary


It seems like it was only yesterday that the SBTC opened its doors for the first time. Now we’re gearing up for its one year anniversary and we want you to help us celebrate!

Join us on Saturday, September 10th at the SBTC for a fun Community Day of music, giveaways, food and the special “Green Scenes” Sidewalk Chalk Contest. If you’ve got a vision in mind that fits with our environmental theme, come on down and show off your chalk art skills. $250, $100, and $50 Visa gift cards will be awarded to our first, second, and third place winners in the adult contest. All kids 13 and under receive a prize just for entering!

To enter the contest, please use our easy registration form to sign-up today! More details on the contest and its rules can be found on our Rules page. The contest is open to the first 30 entrants, so don’t delay!

The celebration begins at 8:30 a.m., and the contest will be from 9 – 11 a.m. At noon, the Green Scenes chalk art contest winners will be announced! There will be refreshments, and live music entertainment will be provided by San Bernardino Teen Music Workshop. In addition, all attendees will receive a free refillable water bottle to take home along with other giveaways. We hope to see you and your family there to celebrate the SBTC’s 1st anniversary!

The San Bernardino Transit Center is located at 599 W Rialto Ave, San Bernardino, CA 92410.