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Riders say Route 290 is their commute of choice


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I had the chance to try out the Route 290 Freeway Express this week and interview a few of the regular passengers. All of them share a common thread. They love the quickness and convenience of the Freeway Express and hope that it will expand its service hours.

Jose works in Pomona at Metro PCS where he installs cell phones and helps tailor affordable plans for people who have limited resources. The cost of car repairs and gas is too high for him right now. Taking his own vehicle would cost him around $30 every couple of days. Since Omnitrans introduced its Route 290 Freeway Express last September, he’s been a regular passenger.

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“The 290 makes a big difference in cost, and it cuts the ride in half,” he explains. “I used to have to take three buses to get to work.  I was spending four hours out of every day on the bus. That’s a lot of time.”

“As soon as I heard about the Route 290, I was ready to hop right on it!” Jose laughs. “Forget about spending all that boring time on the long route! I’m going to take the short route!”

Now to get to his job, he takes Route 290 from San Bernardino to Pomona, then Foothill Transit Route 187 to Gary and Foothill. He couldn’t be happier.

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“All of us regulars have been talking about how we wish it would run all day. Sometimes I’ll see people waiting at the bus stop in the afternoon around 12:00 or 1:00. They haven’t read the bus book, so they don’t realize it just runs early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Once you tell them, you get some upset people and others who are like ‘Oh okay, I didn’t know. I was one of those people back when it first started. But I caught on real quick,” Jose laughs.

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San Bernardino resident Beatrice just started riding the 290 around 3 weeks ago when she started a new job an office assistant at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. It’s a work experience position and extremely important to her.

“I was taking Route 1, which got me there around 7:40. But I start work at 8:00, and I like to be early. Then someone told me about the 290 and how it got there faster—a whole 50 minutes faster than Route 1!” She laughs. “Yeah, that’s why I started taking it. It’s one straight shot. The 290’s not available when I get off work in the afternoon, so I do have to take the 1 home then.  It would be great if the 290 ran all day.”

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Montclair resident Andrew is taking the 290 to San Bernardino so he can visit friends in Colton. He’s a father of 5, and Omnitrans has been the family’s primary mode of transportation for the past five years.

“I’m working right now towards getting a car. I used to study welding at Summit College in San Bernardino and am looking for work. I’d actually like to find a job with a shipyard. The pay is really good and so are the hours.”

Andrew is a big fan of the Freeway Express.

“If the 290 would run all day, it would be nice. I don’t really like catching the 66 because it’s a long ride. If the 290 expanded its hours, it would be more crowded. It’s a lot more convenient—easier and faster.”

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Passenger Mike  is also regular Route 290 commuter. He shared some of his thoughts about the service in a recent email to us.

“The 290 drivers that I’ve ridden with since the service started have been impressively professional drivers; I feel safer with them driving than if I were to drive.  It’s easy to forget that I’m on the freeway because of the smoothness of the travel.

I also appreciate very much how early the 290 starts its eastward trips.  They are earlier than the Metrolink that I used to use—much earlier after some schedule changes that Metrolink made.

The Wi-Fi is not essential, but I like having it; I’ve used it with an interactive language-learning website that requires a live connection.  It’s so much more comfortable to read or to use the Internet while commuting than to drive.

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If asked, I can only think of two things that I believe could make the 290 better:

  • Schedule the first eastbound bus to arrive a few minutes earlier in San Bernardino.  Its scheduling was improved last month to arrive at exactly the same time as my next bus—the 8—is scheduled to leave.  Lately, I’ve been just barely able to catch the earlier 8, and it shortens my commute by 40 minutes.  I am grateful for that; with the original 290 schedule, the 8 was driving away from the terminal each morning as the 290 arrived.
  • Give the drivers freeway blockage information and map-routing devices.  The drivers have impressed me with their ability to take local roads to get around closed freeway sections, but it would help them if they had an early warning of closures, etc.”

Omnitrans appreciates all of the customer feedback we are receiving on the Route 290 Freeway Express, and will keep your suggestions in mind when planning the next service change!

Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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