Tag Archives: employee profile

Coach Operator gives passengers a reason to smile

When he was a little boy, Reginald Jamerson loved riding around on a toy school bus his parents had bought for him. His family used to joke that that he would grow up to be a bus driver one day.

“I know it sounds corny,” laughs 26-year-old Reggie. “But even as an adult I never forgot the fun I had with that little bus. I worked for a while as a security guard and later as a bingo floor clerk at San Manuel. But when I heard that there was an opening for a coach operator at Omnitrans I just had to apply. After I went through the training program, I was hooked all over again. I’ve been driving for the agency about 3 years now. “

For Reggie, the best part of his job is the passengers. “I meet a lot of people every day, and it keeps the job interesting. I make a point of greeting all my passengers when they get on the bus or pay their fares, and thank them for riding when they leave. If I can put a smile on someone’s face and make them have a good day, I will. You always want people to have a good experience. For all you know, the person boarding your bus might never have ridden before, and you’re their first impression. “

Recently Reggie was going out of service for the evening when he noticed an unusually high number of passengers who had been left behind at a Route 14 stop because the bus had been at full capacity. With permission from dispatch, he turned around, loaded the passengers, and then ran the route all the way to Fontana.

“Those late evening trips are always so full, and I didn’t want anyone to get stranded or miss their connection. People were really nice and thanked me over and over. One woman told me she had been worried because the battery on her wheelchair was almost drained and she hadn’t known what she was going to do. It felt good to be able to help.”

Another time Reggie observed a woman in a wheelchair coming up the street when he was at a stop. “For some reason, I got the feeling she was trying to make the bus. Now most of the time, people try to signal you and let you know, and I try to wait for them. But this woman wasn’t doing anything other than run her wheelchair full blast up the sidewalk. I lowered the ramp. She made it to the stop and flew right by me. I thought I was mistaken at that point, but she turned around and came back. Turns out she was going so fast she couldn’t stop quick enough! We laughed and she thanked me for waiting for her.”

What’s the hardest thing about being a coach operator? “Other cars,” said Reggie without hesitation. “People always think buses are slow and are constantly trying to pass you or cut you off. You have to constantly be aware of what’s going on around you. Safety is a huge part of our training, and we’re taught to stay alert to the space around us at all times and pay attention to what could be a potentially impatient driver.”

Reggie has a passion for public transit and eventually hopes to move up in the agency and become a field supervisor. He goes to school part-time and recently switched his major from pediatrics to accounting. He says it’s not as big a switch as it sounds, since pediatrics is very science and math heavy. In his down time he coaches basketball for the City of Redlands at the Redlands Community Center.

His parents still remember the little toy school bus that first inspired Reggie, and his dad proudly brags on his son to anyone who will listen. “My dad has started taking the bus a lot now that his car is having problems. Whenever one of the other drivers picks him up, he always goes into these stories about me and how his kid is a bus driver.” Reggie shakes his head smiling. “I always hear about it the next day.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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Omnitrans Sweethearts: Marianne & Larry

What’s the secret to a great marriage? “Don’t pay attention to each other and have a lot of patience,” advises Larry. The couple laughs.

“And always stay friends and have a good sense of humor!” adds Marianne. “We have these three words we always say to each other: ‘No matter what.’ Sometimes we say it with a smile and sometimes with a grimace, but we really mean it. We each married our best friend.”

These two Omnitrans coach operators have been married for more than 16 years. Larry has been a driver here for 15 years and Marianne for 7. They feel that working for the same company helps them to to understand each other better because they each know firsthand what it takes to do their jobs every day. Both Marianne and Larry Rose agree that Omnitrans is the best place they’ve ever worked. “Because of the size of the company, you have the chance to really get to know people,” says Larry. “We’re like a big family.”

“It’s true,” nods Marianne. “We’ve gone through a lot of challenges in our personal lives, and Omnitrans has always been very supportive of us. I’m so grateful for that.”

In 2009 Marianne was diagnosed with uterine cancer.  She went through 5 weeks of external radiation treatments followed by 42 hours of internal radiation and 5 months of chemotherapy. “At one point they implanted these radioactive rods in me under anesthia, and I had to lie on my back completely still in the hospital for three days,” said Marianne. “I was literally radioactive! There was a Geiger counter in the room measuring the levels. I could only have visitors for 10 mintutes at a time and they had to stay outside the door.”

Throughout it all, Larry worked his route at Omnitrans, took care of their autistic son, Jonathan, and looked after Marianne.  “I would be so down some days, and Larry would make me laugh and tell me that we’d get through this. He was my rock. I really believe God put angels in our lives to look after us, and we have had so much support from our work and from the people around us. We may not always get what we want, but we do always get what we need.”

Marianne is now paying it forward by talking to other cancer patients at Loma Linda Medical Center. On Valentine’s Day, she will be going in for a PET scan. Afterwards the couple hopes to enjoy a steak dinner together at home.

“Just having the gift of time together is the best Valentine’s Day present we could ask for,” said Marianne.

–Juno Kughler Carlson

Do you like this story and want to use it for your blog or newsletter? All our stories may be freely re-posted and shared with others!

Do you have a great Omnitrans story to share? Let us know!
Email  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org