For Rialto resident Eddie Garcia, Omnitrans is all about opportunity. The bus has played a big role in his life and has opened the door to many new experiences.
“I’m Hispanic and come from a typical big Mexican family. There are ten of us living together, my parents, four sisters, three brothers and myself. Me, my mom and a few of my siblings are working right now, and we all help support each other.”
The 19-year-old student recently earned his medical assistant certificate and is interested in continuing his studies to become an RN. Currently he works part time at 7-Eleven and attends part-time classes at Chaffey College.
“One of the things I like about riding the bus is that it breaks down a lot of barriers. No one is better or worse than anyone else–everybody is equal. Because of that, I’ve gotten to know a lot of other students I might not have normally interacted with. Most of my friends are Hispanic, because that’s the community I grew up in. Riding Omnitrans, I had the chance to have conversations with other students from different cultures and really get to know them. Sometimes we’d end up being a class together the following semester, and it was great to have that connection.”
Eddie Garcia (far right) and his family
As a Chaffey student, Eddie is able to take advantage of the Go Smart program. With Go Smart, students and/or schools pay a per student transportation fee to Omnitrans that allows them unlimited free rides with their student ID.
“Money and lack of a car were always the big obstacles that kept many of my friends from pursuing a college education,” said Eddie. “With Omnitrans and Chaffey supporting something like the Go Smart program, it motivates them to go to school. It gives them an opportunity they wouldn’t normally have.”
“I started at Chaffey right out of high school. Unlike some of the other community colleges I talked to, they took the time to help make the registration process easy and a lot less complicated. There was no long waiting list and their classes fit my schedule. And Go Smart made it affordable. To get from my home in Rialto to school in Rancho Cucamonga meant taking three buses. I never would have been able to keep up with the fare costs. But because Go Smart let me ride for free with my student ID, that obstacle was gone. It made it possible for me to go to college.”
Although Eddie got a car about a month ago, he says his family still frequently uses the bus. Two of his sisters often take Omnitrans to get to the charter school they attend in Fontana. “The bus still helps us save time and money. And I like knowing it’s there as a backup in case I need it.”
– Juno Kughler Carlson
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