Bridge Program students do bus role play

Coach operator Bridge Program

Our first Bridge Program class is  this week, and we’re here with a sneak peek behind-the-scenes. Funded by a Workforce Development Grant, the program introduces participants to the transit industry and teaches them how to apply for and successfully secure jobs as coach operators. 

The class covers everything from basic job application and interview tips to a general overview of coach operator skills. We had a little fun with them while they were doing coach operator and passenger role playing exercises.

The right way:

And the not-so-right way:

Omnitrans Board approves Veterans Fare for 2015

On October 1st, the Omnitrans Board of Directors  approved a fare change policy to provide a discounted fare for veterans and a free fare for active duty military and uniformed police and fire officers. The new fare goes into effect beginning January 2015, and will be accepted on all Omnitrans, sbX and OmniGo buses. It is not valid for Access ADA service.

New Fare Policy

Under the new policy, veterans are required to show a valid Veterans ID card while boarding in order to receive discounted fare. Acceptable ID cards include:

Active duty military personnel must wear the appropriate uniform at the time of boarding and present a valid U.S. Unformed Services ID card indicating active service or a Common Access card indicating uniformed services or active duty.

Police and fire personnel must be in full Class A uniform at the time of boarding.

Price of New Veterans Fare

Veterans will be able to purchase special veterans passes for 50% less than the full fare. These passes will be accepted on all Omnitrans, sbX and OmniGo buses. No veteran fare will be offered on Access curb-to-curb service. The cost of the new veterans passes will be:

  • Cash $0.75
  • Day Pass $2.25
  • 7-Day Pass $8.00
  • 31-Day Pass $27.50.

Public Response

Public feedback on  the new veterans fare has been overwhelmingly positive.

Osvaldo Maysonet, Veterans Specialist for VetLink, a strong supporter of the new veterans fare, believes it will enable many in the community he serves to get back on their feet again.

“Thank you on behalf of all Veterans who come January will be able to access their community in a very affordable, reliable, and dignified way,” said Maysonet.

Cyclist commutes successfully on 2, 4, or 6 wheels

This transit advocate enjoys the flexibility of combining his bike with the bus or sbX for local trips

“I take the bus whenever I don’t feel like sweating too much on my bike,” laughed Loma Linda resident Marven Norman when we caught up with him for a phone interview. “As a matter of fact, I’m on the sbX right now!”

An avid cyclist, Marven is also Vice President of the Inland Empire Biking Alliance. The group was formed to unify the cycling community to have a stronger voice in promoting bicycling for transportation and recreation.

“Right now the Inland Empire is one of the worst places for bikes. And it’s hard on drivers too,” said Marven. “Part of what we do is work with area agencies to improve the biking environment in our community with bike trails, bike lanes and other amenities.”

Marven has a strong interest in transit, from bikes and buses to trains and planes. He educated himself on transit planning issues a few years ago when looking into the possibility of new bike lanes.

“I realized pretty quickly that there was a bigger picture to be considered. It wasn’t just about putting paint to pavement. From that I also developed a strong interest in sustainable living and urban renewal.”

His first experience with Omnitrans was as a Valley College student in the Go Smart Program, which provided students at participating colleges with unlimited rides with their student ID. He liked the fact that he could save money and not worry about the hassles of campus parking.

Later he went on to get his Bachelors in Psychology from Cal State San Bernardino and now works as a substitute teacher for the San Bernardino School District. Although he owns a car, he still often favors a combination of bike and bus to get where he needs to go.

He believes more people would consider switching to bikes if more bike lanes were available, because it’s a fast and simple way to get around for quick trips. And for longer distance travel, challenging terrain or bad weather, it can be easily combined with the bus. With California’s recent approval of triple bike racks for buses, along with new bus rapid transit (BRT) coaches that offer interior bike racks, public transportation in the Inland Empire is slowly becoming friendlier to cyclists.

There’s also a growing sense of community among cyclists themselves, and many of them lend a hand to each other when riding the bus.

“If two of us get to the bus at the same time, we’ll usually talk and figure out who will be getting off first so we can set up the bikes accordingly. It makes it easier to unload your bike that way,” said Marven. “And sometimes on the bus when I see other cyclists trying to board and the racks are full, I’ll get off and bike to my destination. Most of the time I’m not going that far, and I can get there just as quickly on my bike. I’m also not intimidated by traffic like some cyclists, so I really don’t mind.”

As for the future, Marven is looking forward to Omnitrans’ development of the West Valley Connector Corridor. In addition to more BRT coaches, he hopes to see more bike improvements in the area.

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

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Friends Ride Free Fridays on sbX

Friends Ride Free Fridays on sbX

Every Friday in October and November, paying sbX passengers can bring a friend along for free! Why? Because riding is always more fun with two!

It’s the perfect opportunity to grab a quick lunch along Hospitality Lane with a co-worker, take in a matinee with your child at the Regal Cinema , or do a little shopping with your best friend at Inland Center Mall.  Best of all, you don’t have to worry about traffic or parking.  You and your friend can simply relax and have a great conversation while enjoying the luxury interior of our sbX coach.

Pedro is a student and part time DJ, and his friend Lexy works at a local restaurant. They regularly travel together on sbX and say that it’s a very different experience from the normal Omnitrans coaches.

“You get a different type of rider on sbX,” says Pedro. “There’s a lot of professionals and students. It’s also fast. We save hours in travel time each day between all our trips.”

friends ride free fridays on sbx

Lexy nods, “True. It’s convenient because it stops close to most of the places we go to. And I like the outlets and free Wi-Fi.” She laughs. “I’m always looking for a place to charge my phone!”

So how does “Friends Ride Free Fridays” work?  It’s simple.

  • The free rider must be accompanied by an sbX passenger with a valid pass or proof of payment.
  • Both riders must board and exit together.
  • The offer is exclusively for our sbX Green Line service, and not good on Omnitrans, OmniGo or Access buses
  • Friends Ride Free Fridays runs through October and November 2014

So grab a friend next Friday and treat yourselves to a first class trip aboard sbX. You both deserve it! For more information visit our sbX page at http://www.omnitrans.org/services/sbx/ 

Omnitrans FREE ride coupon & Rideshare prizes

Omnitrans app - free ride promo screenshotBeat the traffic, help the environment and save money at the same time! Celebrate Rideshare Week with these special offers.

 FREE RIDE COUPON!
It’s the perfect time to try out the bus for free! You can find our the Omnitrans ride coupon on our mobile app or as a PDF download from our website:

Mobile App Coupon: Download the Omnitrans app to your mobile device and click the coupon tab for your digital coupon. Show the coupon to the driver of any Omnitrans, sbX or OmniGo bus you board on Thursday, October 9th to ride the bus for free. One app coupon can cover multiple passengers. Please inform your driver how many people are in your group.

PDF Print Coupon:  Download and print the Omnitran Free Ride coupon from our website. Turn it in to your Omnitrans, sbX or OmniGo driver, who will exchange it for one FREE Day Pass good for unlimited rides on Thursday, October 9th. Print coupons may be redeemed one per customer.

IE COMMUTER:  RIDESHARE WEEK PRIZE DRAWINGS
IE Commuter is your one-stop phone and web service for transportation information in Southern California’s Inland Empire. It’s a great place to learn about Rideshare and the benefits of using sustainable transportation such as riding the bus, carpooling, vanpooling, bicycling, walking, and telecommuting.

Riding the bus between October 6th and 10th? You could win hotel stays, gift cards and other fabulous prizes from IE5 Commuter!   Simply visit IE Commuter and make your rideshare pledge today.

 

Visit Old Blue at Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion

Don’t miss the fun with Buster and Old Blue, our  fully restored 1958 vintage GMC transit coach, at the Route 66 Cruisin’ Reunion September 19-21 in Ontario!

The event is free to the public and encompasses approx. 22-blocks with car enthusiasts and hot rodders parking and cruisin’ the 3-days along historic tree-lined Euclid Avenue and the surrounding streets of downtown Ontario, California near City Hall located at 303 East “B” Street, Ontario, CA 91764.

Sharing pictures from the event on social media? Use the  event hashtag #CruisinReunion2014.

OMNITRANS  ROUTE 83 BUS DETOUR

A detour for Route 83 will be in effect during this event along with nine stop closures. See below for details.

Route 83 Northbound
From Euclid at Holt
Right -Holt
Left -Sultana
Left-4th
Right -Euclid
Route 83 Southbound
From Euclid and 4th Street
Left -4th Street
Right -Sultana
Right -Holt
Left -Euclid

Bus Stop Closures
Northbound:  7911,  8123,  7140,  7141
Southbound:  7240,  7141,  7242,  7243,  7779

Bridge Program opens new opportunities for the unemployed

With so many in California struggling to find employment, those without an educational degree or technical skill are increasingly finding themselves at a disadvantage.

Now Omnitrans is offering a free training program to encourage people to pursue a career in public transit. Funded by a Workforce Development Grant, the Bridge Program is a series of classes that introduces participants to the transit industry and teaches them how to apply for and successfully secure jobs as coach operators. Each 1-week intensive training program culminates with a job fair where the participants can meet with and submit applications to several different regional transit agencies.

Bridge Program instructor Henry Shields was formerly the Fleet Safety and Training Supervisor for Omnitrans before his retirement in 2011. He believes the program provides a unique opportunity for those who are looking for a lucrative career with long-term job stability.

“Most people never consider a career in transit,” Shields points out frankly. “They aren’t aware of the opportunities that are open to them. Coach operator positions offer paid training, competitive salaries, great benefits and good job security. You don’t have to have a degree or a trade skill. If you have a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn, then you have the ability to succeed in this field.”

Shields can vouch for this from his own firsthand experience. When he received his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps in 1990, he was surprised at how difficult it was for him to find a civilian job. As a Master Sergeant he had years of experience as a respected training instructor and recruiter, but without a degree, trade or technical skill no one would consider him for a job. Finally he applied for a coach operator position at Omnitrans and began what became a 21 year career in the transportation industry. Thanks to the tuition reimbursement program Omnitrans offers its employees, he was also able to obtain a college degree in Business Management.

“It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” says Shields. “Being able to share the same opportunity with others through the Bridge Program means a lot to me. It has the potential to completely change lives. It also generates public interest in transit as a career path and serves as a valuable recruitment tool for regional agencies.”

Participants in the 1-week Bridge Program will be given a broad overview of the transit industry and the role of the coach operator within the transit system. They will learn about transit maps and schedules, how to prepare a coach for service, how to drive a route, how to deal with difficult people, and how to handle emergencies. They will have the opportunity to experience firsthand what it feels like to drive a coach, thanks to a state-of-the-art virtual reality coach simulator. The participants will also take a short field trip on a regular coach to familiarize themselves with the passenger experience.

“The course is designed to put people at ease and give them the confidence that they can do this,” explains Shields. “It gives them a good orientation to the transit industry and prepares them for the job application process, which can be pretty stringent. Applicants must typically pass an interactive written test, a personal interview, a physical exam, and a background check before even being considered for a coach operator position. The knowledge and skills our participants gain through the Bridge Program gives them a deeper understanding of what’s required of coach operators and better equips them to pursue a career in transit.”

For more information on the Bridge Program please contact Henry.Shields@omnitrans.org

The Bridge Program is a regional transit career opportunity sponsored by the Omnitrans Workforce Development Committee. Members from L to R: Treasury Manager Maurice Mansion, Fleet Safety and Training Supervisor Don Frazier, HR and Safety and Security Director Marjorie Ewing, Director of Internal Audit Services Samuel Gibbs, Operations Director Diane Caldera, HR Specialist Denise Gibson, Bridge Program Assistant Instructor Patricia Dorch, Bridge Program Instructor Henry Shields.

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

Do you like this story and want to share it on your blog or newsletter?  All of our articles may be freely shared with others.

Have a great Omnitrans or sbX story to share? Let us know!