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Omnitrans Vet Fare Kickoff A Success

In appreciation for the contributions of the men and women who have served in our nation’s armed forces, Omnitrans introduced a discount fare for US military veterans on January 5, 2015.

“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. Approximately 79,000 veterans reside in the Omnitrans service area of the San Bernardino Valley.

P. Scott Graham, Omnitrans CEO

A kickoff event was held at the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center in Loma Linda, California. Representatives of Omnitrans, its Board of Directors, the VA Healthcare system, 211-Vetlink, and San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs all hailed the new discount fare as a well-deserved benefit for those who served in the armed forces.

Osvaldo Maysonet, Veterans Specialist at 211-Vetlink and former Marine sergeant who served in the Iraq war, is credited with leading the charge to get Omnitrans and several neighboring transit agencies to implement a veteran discount. “This will have a big impact on affordability for our veterans,” Maysonet said. “We have many vets in San Bernardino County who are dealing with low income or no income. Access to affordable transportation will connect them with education, healthcare and employment opportunities and possibly help them to become taxpayers again.”

Osvaldo Maysonet, Veterans Specialist at 211-Vetlink

At the kickoff event, Omnitrans donated 500 veterans 1-day bus passes to VA Healthcare system programs. Veteran resources were on site to offer assistance and information. San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs issued nearly 100 free photo ID cards for veterans. The IDs verify eligibility for the new bus fares and can be used to earn discounts at other “veteran-friendly” businesses in the county.

The veteran fare provides a 50% discount on fixed route bus fares and passes to US retired military personnel with ID. This includes those who served in the US Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy. Additionally, Omnitrans introduced free rides for uniformed active duty military members, police and firefighters.

Public transit trial gains a new rider for Omnitrans

Being a one-car family when you have to juggle appointments, schools and job can be challenging, but ridesharing can definitely make things a bit easier. Silas Molina, an Eligibility Worker for the County of San Bernardino, lives in Mentone with his wife Anne and their four children. For the past 2 1/2 years he’s been carpooling to the office in the morning with a co-worker, and his family has been picking him up in the afternoon.

When his co-worker went out on vacation a couple of weeks ago, Silas was forced to look for an alternative means of transportation. “It was impossible for my wife to drop me off in the mornings because she had to get the kids to school. My only other option was to take the bus. So I started riding Omnitrans.”

The experience was nothing like what he had expected. “I was intimidated at first,” he admitted. “I expected tons of people and long travel times. But it worked out really well. It takes me exactly one hour to get to work every day, and the bus has always been on time. The trip is pleasant, and I can read, listen to music or even work on my computer.”

In fact, his experience has been so good that Silas has made the decision to continue to use Omnitrans for the ride home once his co-worker returns.

“My wife and I calculated the expense and realized that it cost us $6 a day just for her to pick me up from work,” Silas explained. “And it’s also more convenient for her to be able to stay home with the kids in the afternoon. The bus has been a positive experience for me, and the one-hour ride isn’t bad. I’ll generally listen to NPR or take a short nap. It’s a good way to decompress from work before going home to be with my family. And you can’t beat the savings!”

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Email Juno Kughler Carlson at  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org