Thanking veterans with a free ride

U.S military veterans will receive free bus rides on Veterans Day. It’s our way of saying thank you to those who have served this country to protect our freedom.

Veterans simply need to show retired military ID when boarding any Omnitrans route including the sbX rapid line, 215 freeway express, 25 local bus routes, or 5 OmniGo community shuttle routes. Acceptable veteran IDs include those issued by the US Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs and  San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs. For more information on veteran IDs, click here.

All of us at Omnitrans are proud to support our veteran community. sbX coach operator Rachel Tripp expresses it best.

sbX coach operator Rachel Tripp picking up veterans at the VA hospital station

“It feels good to pull in to the station and see the veterans come on board,” says Rachel. “Many of them have been through so much with everything they’ve seen and experienced. A lot them are still going through rough times, trying to find jobs or struggling with homelessness. They have done so much for all of us. It’s a great honor for me to pick them up and give them good service. It’s a small way I can express my own gratitude and show my respect.”

This Veterans Day we salute all of our veterans, who are such an integral part of our local community,.

Veteran at VA hospital station by photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Big Bear resident and Navy veteran Michael Johnson uses MARTA, Omnitrans and sbX to get to his doctor appointments at the VA hospital in Loma Linda.

Vets and friends Marvin and Ed help teach art skills to other veterans at the VA hospital.

Omnitrans veteran by photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Veteran holds his Omnitrans “Proud Veteran” button at the VA hospital station.

Veteran takes his seat on board the sbX BRT Green Line.

Bus stops added to Routes 5 & 8

This Sunday, November 9th, two new bus stops will be added to Routes 5 and 8.  Both will be ready for service on Monday morning.

The Route 5 bus stop (ID #8394) will be located on Weir Road at Barton southbound.  This new stop will help passengers make a quicker connection to the Route 19.

The Route 8 bus stop (ID #8396) will be located on Pearl at Orange eastbound.

Diane Bojorquez: Employee of the Quarter

Diane Bojorquez is honored as Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Omnitrans CEO P. Scott Graham, Marketing Director Wendy Williams, Employee of the Quarter Diane Bojorquez and Board Chair Alan Wapner

What do you do when your department undergoes a restructure that doubles your workload? If you’re Diane Bojorquez, you roll up your sleeves and rise to the challenge. On November 5th, she was honored as Employee of the Quarter creating and implementing a hugely successful fare change communication plan.

“It’s been an interesting few months,” admits Diane. “With the reorganization, we eliminated a staff position, which then added pass sales distribution responsibilities to my list of duties. At the same time, we were preparing for our first fare increase in five years, so it was critical to streamline our process and come up with a good communication plan.”

Diane Bojorquez,  photographer Juno Kughler CarlsonDiane’s first priority was to personally visit each of our more than 80 pass vendors to let them know she would be servicing their accounts directly, which would cut down on the turnaround time for order fulfillment. It also gave her the opportunity to talk with them about the upcoming fare change well in advance and to answer any questions they might have.

“I knew that spending time with each of these businesses and re-establishing relationships with them was going to be the single most important thing I could do,” explains Diane. “It’s all about building a community where our partners feel supported. I wanted to be face-to face with them so they could associate Omnitrans with a real person who wanted to take the time to get to know them and understand their needs.”

Her efforts paid off.  Vendor feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Orders are now streamlined and processed within hours rather than days, and pass outlet sales have grown 13% year to date.

Diane then turned her attention to the online store. In order to change over product prices, she knew the store would need to be temporarily closed for business for 2 days prior to the fare change. With the help of her team, she sent letters to mail order customers notifying them of the online store closure and enclosing a chart that compared current and upcoming fare prices.

Diane Bojorquez celebrates with family and friends,  photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Employee of the Quarter revelry with Jonathan Bojorquez, Diane Bojorquez, Tembi Tovar, Melissa Castillo, Diana Duran and Lilliann Duran

By anticipating customer needs before they arose and delivering outstanding personal customer service, Diane ensured our 2014 fare change went smoothly, and that there were no complaints related to outlet or online store fare media. Online store revenues were up 35% in September versus last year.

“None of it could have happened without the support of my team,” Diane points out. “Tembi Tovar, our administrative secretary, made the rounds with me to the outlets and helped process orders. Our receptionists Susie Perez, Lucy Gonzales-Brown and Liz Calderon made sure our walk-in customers had the fare change information in their hands, processed exchanges and helped answer questions. It was definitely a group effort, and I’m really proud of what we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.”

Diane celebrates her 10 year anniversary with Marketing Director Wendy Williams (left) and Customer Service Manager Melissa Castillo (right)

This year Diane celebrated her 10th  anniversary with Omnitrans. She has over 37 years in the transit industry, including 27 years with LA Metro, where she began as a 19-year-old information clerk.

“Transit has been a great career for me,” says Diane. “And I like the fact it’s allowed me to change and grow along with it. Technology has changed a lot since 1975, but I was fortunate enough to receive on-the-job training that gave me the skills I needed to adapt. Omnitrans is very good about encouraging employees to develop leadership skills and come up with new ideas that can help the agency.”

Two years ago, Diane participated in a Leadership Achievement Program at Omnitrans, where she developed an audio advertising project.  The project would enable short, GPS triggered audio advertisements or public service messages on buses at carefully spaced intervals. This month, her project was approved for implementation.

Diane and family, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Diane Bojorquez and her children Diana and Jonathan

“I’m really excited about it,” she laughs. “It’s been such a long process, that I can hardly believe it’s finally happening! It will bring in additional revenue at absolutely no cost to the agency. It also provides a location-based service to our customers.  For example, they might learn that a nearby drugstore is offering low cost flu shots or that a restaurant is offering 2-for-1 specials for riders who show them a bus pass. It’s a simple way we can add value for our passengers.”

In her private life Diane is all about family. Her daughter Diana, son Jonathan, and granddaughter Lilliann were all on hand to cheer her on during her award presentation.  Diane proudly shows off a photo of an intensely focused Lilliann striking a catching stance in her softball uniform. “She’s the only girl on the team,” she grins. “I love that she’s so independent. She knows what she wants and goes for it! Kind of like her Grammy.”

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Diane Bjorquez and grandaughter Lilliann,  photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Strong independent women run in the family: Diane Bojorquez and granddaughter Lilliann

Loma Linda seniors early adopters of sbX

Retired nurse and Loma Linda resident Alexina aboard sbX BRT, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

“I love everything about sbX!” says Alexina with a broad smile.

The retired nurse and Loma Linda resident has been a regular rider on the rapid transit line since it launched in April. She doesn’t have a car and relies on public transit to get everywhere she need to go. She prefers riding sbX because it has stops at her favorite destinations, and the Anderson Street station is just a few blocks from her home.

“I enjoy getting out, so I’ll often take sbX over to Inland Center Mall or out to lunch. It’s a nice ride, and the air conditioning is wonderful! Today is the third time I’ve ridden the entire line all the way up to Palm and Kendall and back. It’s very relaxing, and I can read or just enjoy the scenery.”

An avid romance reader and Amazon reviewer, Alexina always has her Kindle handy in her purse. “I use the electrical outlets and Wi-Fi on here all the time,” she explains. “I carry power cords for my phone and Kindle with me so I can charge them whenever I need to. It’s very convenient.”

Reginald Wiley

Reginald is a retired Air Force veteran also living in Loma Linda. Although he’s been a regular rider from the beginning, he admits that early on he had doubts about the rapid transit system.

“I was one of the naysayers at first,” he explained.  ”Until I rode on it for the first time. I have to say it far exceeded every expectation I had. I like it.”

Reginald also finds it convenient to have an sbX station just two blocks from his home.  ”It makes it very easy for me to get to the VA hospital, and it’s about 15 minutes faster than the regular bus. I also like being able to charge my cell phone while I’m riding. It works well for me, and I enjoy it.”

Vets ride free on Veterans Day

In appreciation for the contributions of the men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces, Omnitrans is offering free bus rides to U.S. military veterans on Veterans Day, Tuesday, November 11.

Veterans simply need to show retired military ID when boarding any Omnitrans route including the sbX rapid line, 215 freeway express, 25 local bus routes, or 5 OmniGo community shuttle routes. Acceptable veteran IDs include those issued by the US Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs and  San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs.

“It’s our way of saying thanks to those who have served to protect our freedom,” said Omnitrans CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham, himself a veteran of the US Marine Corps.   Omnitrans currently employs 78 military veterans, which is about 12 percent of the workforce. Approximately 79,000 veterans reside in the Omnitrans service area of the San Bernardino Valley, stretching from Yucaipa in the east to the LA County line in the west.

On January 5, 2015, Omnitrans will introduce a new reduced fare category for veterans.  “As part of our Veterans Day free ride offer, we hope to build awareness for the new fare and encourage veterans to get a retired military ID, if they don’t have one already,” said Omnitrans spokesperson Wendy Williams.

“Our veterans ID cards are offered to veterans with honorable military service at no charge and can be used to earn veteran discounts at over 1,000 local businesses,” said Bill J. Moseley, Director of San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs. Visit the county website for information on veterans ID applications or call 866-4SB-VETS (866-472-8387).

All Omnitrans routes will be running regular schedules on November 11, though Omnitrans offices are closed in observance of the holiday. The Veterans Day free ride offer is not applicable to Access service for persons with disabilities.

Personalized trip planning assistance is available through the Omnitrans information center, at 800-9-OMNIBUS (800-966-6428), or online at www.omnitrans.org.

Bridge Program graduates on fast track to success

Workforce Development Bridge Program

Click here to view more photos from the Bridge Program.

Since early October, a free training program presented by Omnitrans has been encouraging people to bridge from to a new 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. The program includes an overview of coach operator duties as well as workplace professionalism and interview skills. At the end of each 5-day intensive training program, participants receive a certificate of completion which they can then bring with them when interviewing with regional transit agencies.

Participants in the Bridge Program tour the Omnitrans bus yard, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

“This certificate indicates to regional transit agencies that the applicant has a basic understanding of coach operator duties and has developed the skills needed to be successful in a professional work environment,” explains Omnitrans Director of Internal Audit Dr. Samuel Gibbs, who heads the workforce development committee. “Bridge Program graduates have an incredible opportunity to pursue a lucrative, long-term transit career with great potential for advancement.”

Instructors Patricia Dorch and Henry Shields with Bridge Program participants, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Instructors Patricia Dorch and Henry Shields with Bridge Program participants

Many of the Bridge program participants are unemployed job seekers, while others are hoping to transition from their current position to a new career. They are all looking for ways to stand out from the crowd with a potential interviewer.

Shannon Kovitch will soon be retiring from the County of San Bernardino and would like to start a new career. He was surprised at how extensive the training was on just the first day and says he will use it to change the way he approaches potential jobs. “Just the portion on the resume—I realize now I’ve been doing it wrong. I’ve been using online examples and just submitting a generic resume with my application. The way Ms. Patricia formats the resume, the addition of a cover letter and certificates, and how everything is positioned within your portfolio is all new information for me.”

Bridge Program graduate Reginald Reid, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Bridge Program graduate Reginald Reid

Student Reginald Reid agrees.  “I’ve been going to school and working several side jobs. I was looking for a good career opportunity that I could qualify for. The first day I walked into class I was blown away by the information the instructors provided.  I actually felt a little childish when they pointed out all the different ways you can sell yourself for a position, because it made such perfect sense. Now I know what I can say to help seal the deal during an interview.”

Necktie demonstration - bridge program

Click here to view more photos from the Bridge Training Program!

Reginald was also impressed by how extensive the duties of a coach operator are. “I was very surprised,” he admits. “It’s interesting. There’s a lot more to it than just driving a bus.”

“I’m excited that we are introducing great new people to the industry,” says Omnitrans Fleet Safety & Training Supervisor and Workforce Development Committee Member Don Frazier. “I have worked in transit for almost forty years, and it’s been wonderful career for me. It’s going to add a lot to your life personally and economically, and you’re providing a viable service for the community. It’s a great opportunity for anybody to get into the Bridge Program.”

Bridge program graduates, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

So far, two classes have graduated the Bridge Program, and already there have been  several successes:

Theresa Turner was excited to report that she was hired by a paratransit agency after she applied the “seal the deal” technique during her job interview.

Jaswant Singh told us that, thanks to the coach operator skills overviews presented in the course, he aced his test with LA Metro and is scheduled for an interview.

Haskell Ross credits the interview techniques he learned during the program in helping him land a job with a construction company. He was told that he made a great first impression!

- Juno Kughler Carlson

Click here to view more photos from the Bridge Program.

Graduation Day - Bridge Program, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

 

Routes 19 & 215 detour through end of year

Detours are in place for Routes 19 and 215 through January 1. Please see adjusted route information and stop closure below and plan accordingly. You can find all current rider alerts on our website under the Trip Planner or on the Omnitrans mobile app.

Route 19 Eastbound

  • From M Street
  • Left – Mt. Vernon
  • Right – 10 Freeway (East)
  • Merge right – 215 (South)
  • Exit Washington
  • Left – Washington
  • Right- Santo Antonio
  • Right – Mt. Vernon
  • Left – Washington
  • Continue Route

Route 19 Westbound – (Stop closure #5199)

  • From Mt. Vernon and Centerpoint
  • Left – Santo Antonio
  • Left – Washington
  • Right – 215 Freeway (North)
  • Merge onto 10 Freeway (West)
  • Exit Sperry
  • Left Sperry/Valley
  • Left Mt. Vernon
  • Right – M Street
  • Continue Route

Route 215 Northbound

  • From Mt. Vernon & Centerpoint
  • Left – Santo Antonio
  • Left – Washington
  • Merge onto 215 Freeway (North)
  • Continue Route

Route 215 Southbound

  • From 215 Freeway
  • Exit Washington
  • Left – Washington
  • Right – Santo Antonio
  • Right Mt. Vernon
  • Continue Route