It’s early in the morning, and I’m snapping photos at the sbX station at the Loma Linda Park & Ride. The sky has a warm glow and the station is freshly washed and prepared to welcome the first riders of the day.
San Bernardino resident Mary Ann Morales is the first passenger to arrive. She is on her way to the Loma Linda University Faculty Medical Office where, for the past nine years, she has worked as a surgery scheduler.
Due to expansion construction, the Faculty Medical Office has recently lost a large amount of parking outside its building.
To accommodate the displaced employees, Loma Linda University (LLU) partnered with Omnitrans to implement a “GoSmart” style program. A negotiated fee paid for by LLU makes it possible for the Faculty Medical Center staff to ride Omnitrans fixed routes, sbX Rapid Transit and OmniGo at no charge, simply by swiping their ID badge.
I’m interested in finding out what Mary Ann’s experience has been with us so far, and she agrees to an interview.
“How do you like sbX?” I ask her.
“It works for me,” she says. “The Park and Ride is actually pretty nice, and it’s convenient.
“Is it different from what you expected?”
She nods. “Oh yes!”
“What did you anticipate?”
Mary Ann hesitates. “Scary people. I was a little nervous. But it wasn’t like that at all. They’re actually just regular people. And sometimes we all talk. That’s another thing about sbX that’s a positive. You meet a lot of people you probably would never have met just taking a car. I even met my supervisor’s daughter-in-law that way, which was cool.”
Just then the coach pulls up to the station. We board together and continue our conversation. I’m curious about how adding sbX to her commute compares to simply using a car.
“Our office opens at 8:00,” Mary Ann tells me. “So I used to get here at 7:45. Now I try to get to the Park and Ride around 7:00—just to be on the safe side.
One of the reasons I chose sbX over taking the Sheraton shuttle to work is because the shuttle has such a long wait time. They want to fill the shuttle, so a lot of times they just sit there for 15-20 minutes until more people arrive. I shouldn’t have to wait around like that. SbX is fast and doesn’t wait for people to arrive—it just goes. I think a lot more people will be opting to ride it because of that.”
Mary Ann reaches across the aisle to push the stop button, letting the coach operator know we want to get off at the Loma Linda University station. We disembark and walk towards her office.
“This is my little workout in the morning,” she laughs. “It’s a little bit of a walk but good exercise. On my late night shift, it’s a little different. I won’t take the bus if it means walking alone in the dark. I’ll either call a cab or get a ride with someone.”
Sometimes Mary Ann is able to connect with other co-workers who ride sbX. There are two medical assistants who also leave late and, if she can, she joins them. It’s more fun and gives them time to catch up.
“Even having you walk with me makes me feel more comfortable,” she tells me. “There’s power in pairs. And it is kind of nice just to talk. I’m very sociable and friendly with people, so that comes easy for me.
I think my personality also helps with my work. I believe in treating people the way you would like to be treated. I try to treat patients who come in as if they could be my mom, my dad, my kids or my grandbabies. That’s my motto, you know? I do my best to try to make a difference.”
After a 5 minute walk, we arrive at the office. Mary Ann smiles and poses for a quick photo.
“It’s was nice meeting you,” she says. “It’s great that Omnitrans wants to do a story on this. I like sbX and would recommend it to anyone who’s thinking about riding.”
– Juno Kughler Carlson, firstname.lastname@example.org
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