Tag Archives: chaffey go smart

Omnitrans carries over 16 million riders

Omnitrans added a million riders in 2011-12 compared to the prior year, surpassing the 16 million mark for the first time since 2004. On an average weekday, the transit agency’s buses carried over 52,000 passengers, a 7.7% increase from fiscal year 2011.

“Transit ridership is growing across the country,” said CEO/General Manager Milo Victoria, “but Omnitrans is ahead of the trend. Nationally, ridership was up about 5% for the first quarter of calendar year 2012, while Omnitrans grew 8%.”

A key growth factor is the “Go Smart” college program that provides unlimited bus rides to students at participating colleges. A one-year pilot program generated over 1.4 million trips from students at California State University San Bernardino, Chaffey College, Crafton Hills College and Valley College. Over 25 percent of enrolled students hopped on board. The pilot program was funded by 15 local cities, the County, partner colleges and Omnitrans. This spring students at Chaffey, Crafton Hills and Valley Colleges approved student fees to continue the program for five years. CSUSB is hoping to fund another year of the pilot program. The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire joined the program in May.

The growth comes at a time when the transit agency has implemented only modest enhancements after service cuts were implemented in 2010 due to budget shortfalls. While ridership increased 7.4% on average among all routes and services, some led the way. OmniGo community shuttle routes continue to capture new riders, achieving a 34% upsurge year over year. Introduced in September 2010, OmniGo serves the cities of Chino Hills, Grand Terrace and Yucaipa using smaller 16-passenger vehicles more suited to these residential areas than traditional transit buses.

Express Route 215, which travels the 215 freeway corridor to connect San Bernardino and Riverside posted a 17% gain. “This bodes well for our sbX bus rapid transit line under construction,” said Director of Marketing Wendy Williams. “Commuters are looking for low cost alternatives that are time competitive with driving.”

While high gas prices are likely contributors to rising transit ridership, national studies also show that younger Americans are driving less. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that between 2001 and 2009 the average annual vehicle miles traveled by Americans ages 16 to 34 fell by close to a quarter, from 10,300 to 7,900 per capita. At the same time, the amount of bicycling, walking, and public transit ridership increased.

Student rider passionate about politics and public transit

Matthew Munson is a 32-year-old re-entry student who is working on his prerequisites in education at Chaffey College. His goal is to be a history teacher for 7th-12th graders.

Matthew has a passion for politics and ran for the State Assembly when he was just 23-years-old. He’s also written letters to the editor encouraging people to use public transit. He believes that one of the best ways to rally people around a cause is to give them firsthand experience of what it means. “It’s especially important for decision-makers to understand the needs of the people they represent,” said Matthew. “For example I think your bus agency board members should all ride the bus for a day to experience a day in the life of an Omnitrans rider.”

An experienced rider, Matthew has been using public transit almost exclusively for the past 15 years. He rode between Ontario and the University of California at Riverside (UCR) for 2 years when he was a political science major back in 2003. “It was before Riverside Transit Agency had their express bus service. My day used to start at 5 in the morning and I’d get home around 9:00 at night. It was a long commute, but I was able to get all my class reading done on the bus,” said Matthew. “It worked for me.”

Now his commute is only 5 hours a week, and he is able to take advantage of the GoSmart College Pass program which allows him to ride for free with his student ID. He hopes the program will receive the support it needs to in order to continue. Chaffey students will be voting in early April on whether or not to fund the program through a $7.50 transportation fee as part of their registration.

“It’s a win for all the students,” Matthew pointed out. “Those of us who use the service are able to save a lot of money. It used to cost me about $35 a month to ride the bus, which may not sound like much, but the savings definitely add up. Even students with cars benefit from the program because there’s less competition for parking—something that’s always a premium on a college campus. It’s also a great backup for students when their car breaks down or they can’t afford the gas.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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