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Give to the 2016 Spark of Love Toy Drive!

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Every child deserves to have a delightful and happy holiday season, and you can have a part in making that happen by joining Omnitrans for this year’s ABC7/Southern California Firefighters Spark of Love Toy Drive!

We’ll be collecting new, unwrapped toys for under-served children in our local communities on Friday, December 9, 2016 at Mathis Brothers Furniture! They are located at 4105 Inland Empire Blvd, Ontario, CA 91764. The annual Stuff-A-Bus event will take place from 5am-6pm. Last year, our community came together and stuffed nine buses full with toys for our San Bernardino County children! In addition to supporting a great cause, you can enjoy music, treats, take a look at the ABC7’s news copter, and say hello to Santa at the event!

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An Omnitrans bus at the 2015 Stuff A Bus event.

Can’t make it out to the event? You can still spread the holiday cheer! We will be collecting toy drop-offs through Thursday, December 8th at our main office lobby in San Bernardino, and at the San Bernardino Transit Center.

You may also stop by any local fire station to drop off your toy, or donate monetarily online. All proceeds will go to buying toys or sports equipment for the children. Click here to donate online!

Omnitrans’ administrative offices are located at 1700 W. Fifth Street San Bernardino, CA 92411. The San Bernardino Transit Center is located at 599 W. Rialto Avenue, San Bernardino, CA 92401. For hours of operation please click here.

40th Anniversary Sweepstakes Winners Announced!

Last month, we reached an important landmark which you may have heard a thing or two about – our 40th anniversary! As part of our celebration, we gave away 40 prizes, one for each year that Omnitrans has proudly served the San Bernardino Valley.

Winners were chosen at random from our pool of 700-plus sweepstakes entries, and the grand prize winner of a $400 Visa gift card and twelve 31-day bus passes is Juan Perez of Fontana! Thanks to all who entered.

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Juan Perez of Fontana, the grand prize winner!

“When you first called me, I didn’t know who it was. I was at work and didn’t believe it,” Juan tells us of the surprise congratulatory phone call from Omnitrans. “After I heard the voicemail message and called back, then I thought ‘Okay, this is legit.’”

Juan first learned about the giveaway when he noticed the advertisement on an Omnitrans bus. We were pleased to know that he found out about the sweepstakes the “old school” way in an age dominated by digital and social media!

Omnitrans has been a part of the 28-year-old’s life for many years, tracing back to his days as a high school student, when he took the bus home after school. “I didn’t know all the routes back then, and I would end up getting lost sometimes,” Juan laughs as he reminisces.

These days, Juan rides Omnitrans when he and his brother feel like enjoying a day together at San Manuel Casino in Highland, or simply choose to leave their car at home.

“It’s helpful if you don’t want to take an Uber or drive yourself. It’s a lot cheaper than those options,” he says. “Or, if I want to have an [adult] beverage, I obviously don’t want to drive, and I feel safe riding Omnitrans.”

Juan is thankful to have entered the drawing, and the gift card will definitely come in handy for him this holiday season! “Thanks, Omnitrans for the prize and congratulations on your 40-year anniversary!” says a delighted Juan.

For the full list of our 40th Anniversary Sweepstakes winners, please click here.

Omnitrans Offers Free Rides for Vets on Veterans Day

To honor our veterans on Veterans Day, Omnitrans is offering free rides to the men and women who have served in the United States Armed Forces on Friday, November 11, 2016. It is our way of saluting those individuals who have contributed to protecting our nation’s freedom.

To ride, veterans simply present an ID card indicating their retired military status upon boarding any of Omnitrans’ vehicles including sbX, Freeway Express, OmniGo community shuttles, and our local fixed-route buses. Accepted forms of ID include those issued by US Departments of Defense or Veterans Affairs, San Bernardino County Veterans Affairs, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

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Since January 2015, Omnitrans has offered rides at a reduced fare for the approximate 79,000 veterans living in the San Bernardino Valley. Required methods of proof of eligibility for such fare discount include:

  • County of San Bernardino Military Veterans ID card
  • US Department of Veteran Affairs ID card
  • Department of Defense retired ID card, or
  • A transit agency Veterans ID card

If you are a veteran and would like to apply for the San Bernardino County Military Veterans ID card, please click here to apply online.

A Closer Look at Omnitrans’ Growth from a Past Driver’s Perspective

Change is unavoidable, especially for a public transit agency in the ever-changing landscape of Southern California, but taking a closer look at how things were 40 years ago illustrates just how far Omnitrans has come! This month, as we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, we connected with one of our original employees – Richard Breeden – who was integral in developing some important practices that are still part of our daily operations in connecting our community.

It was 1958 when Richard joined San Bernardino Valley Transit, which would become Omnitrans. After being discharged from the US Army, and a short stint at Santa Fe Railroad, Richard saw a job opening for bus drivers and decided to apply, hoping to utilize his experience as an Army driver. After completing a test drive, he was asked if he could begin the 14-day training process the next day.

“I was given a rule book to read before coming in the next day,” remembers Richard of the fast-paced process. “I had to learn all the routes, rules, regulations, operation procedures, and fares all in one night!”

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Richard in action as the first bus driver trainer around the time Omnitrans was formed.

Many things were different in the transit world in those days. Base fare was 25 cents, the buses did not have wheelchair lifts, and there was no air conditioning for those hot summer days! In addition to conducting a 20-40 foot bus without power-steering, it was the driver’s duty to collect fare, sort it and run it through a changer to generate change for the next stop. Hello, forearms of steel! 

It was only Richard’s seventh day of training when he was asked to train a fellow student! Hesitantly, Richard complied with the dispatcher’s request and from that moment forward, he was no longer a student, but as a trainer.

Of course, that’s not how it works today. Four decades later, Omnitrans’ coach operators must complete five to six weeks of training and education with a certified trainer, including classroom work, behind the wheel experience, and even a state-of-the-art coach simulator with the most advanced technology.

In 1962, Richard was the employee who took the initiative to approach the city of San Bernardino to voice the need for formal training of our drivers. A few months later, a sign-up sheet was posted for anyone interested in being a trainer. Richard did not sign up.

When the transit manager asked why his name was not on the list, Richard responded that he was “happy being a bus driver.” After being convinced to add his name to the pool of applicants, he scored an interview and was selected for the newly created role.

After developing a comprehensive three-week training program that included diagrams and obstacle courses, City Hall approved Richard’s plan. The students’ training period culminated with a test created by Richard, which required a passing score of 80% or higher. Those who scored below that threshold were terminated.

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Richard came back to Omnitrans for a visit last summer and posed with Old Blue, our vintage 1958 bus, which he found and was also the first to drive at special events around town.

In the years following, Richard revamped the driver’s rule book, and partnered with the National Safety Council to create the Million Mile Club for transit operators, an exclusive club for drivers who have driven 1,000,000 miles accident-free. He strengthened our partnerships with law enforcement by coordinating mutually beneficial trainings on our vehicles, and created positive relations between Omnitrans and community organizations including coordination of the first employee blood drive after a mechanic’s daughter found herself in need during surgery. The blood drive continues to this day.

Richard retired in 2000 as Fleet Safety and Training Supervisor at Omnitrans, but returned for special events to drive our 1958 vintage bus, Old Blue, which he found and drove for the first time. Although we have vastly grown from a small agency of just 29 vehicles in 1976, it is employees such as Richard who had the foresight to implement ideas that continue to impact our agency four decades later.

Omnitrans Proposes Service Change to Route 215

Omnitrans is proposing a service change for early next year – and we want your feedback! The service changes would affect Freeway Express Route 215, which connects passengers between San Bernardino and Riverside with limited stops. Due to the closing of the Riverside Transit Center, plans are to reroute Route 215 to serve the Downtown Riverside Metrolink Station on Vine Street. The map below illustrates these changes:

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To gather public comment, Omnitrans staff will be at the San Bernardino Transit Center on Thursday, November 3, 2016 from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., near the Route 215 and 290 stops. In addition to the proposed changes, we will be listening to your feedback on all Omnitrans services, with specific focus on the recently implemented mid-day Route 290 service.

If approved, the Route 215 change would become effective on January 8, 2017 to coincide with Riverside Transit’s (RTA) transit center closure.

The San Bernardino Transit Center is located at 599 W Rialto Ave, San Bernardino, CA 92410.

Celebrate With Us As Omnitrans Turns 40!

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You only turn 40 once, and we are making it count! Since first starting out in 1976, Omnitrans has traveled nearly 300 million miles in the San Bernardino Valley – that’s the equivalent of three round trips around Mars! More importantly, however, we have connected with our community along the ride and have been part of many people’s lives. Be sure to follow us on social media to be part of all the fun as we celebrate this accomplishment all month long!

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Customer Appreciation Days
Reaching our 40th anniversary is a significant milestone that would not have been possible without you – our customers – and we would like to show our gratitude. We will be hanging out at our West Valley transit centers (Chino, Montclair, Ontario) the morning of Monday, October 17th and at our East Valley transit centers (Fontana, San Bernardino) on Tuesday, October 18th with a commemorative 40th Anniversary giveaway that you don’t want to miss out on! Swing by, say hi and grab one while they last.

40th Anniversary Sweepstakes
Forty years…forty prizes! Enter our 40th Anniversary Sweepstakes for a chance to be one of our randomly selected winners. Simply visit the sweepstakes entry page*, fill out the form completely, and you will be automatically entered for a chance to win. Prizes include Farmer Boys and movie gift cards, commemorative items, and a grand prize of $400 on a Visa gift card, plus a whole year’s worth of Omnitrans passes – a deal that beats even our original bus fare of $.25 per ride!

*Paper entries are available and accepted at the San Bernardino Transit Center customer service and Omnitrans administration office desks.

40 Years of Omnitrans Trivia Contests
Join us as we look back on our accomplishments! Omnitrans has achieved many things in the last 40 years, including several 1st Place Safety Awards from the National Safety Council, and we want to celebrate with you and a good old game of trivia! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and each Monday for the rest of October we will have a new trivia question for you. All who answer correctly will be entered into a weekly drawing on Fridays for a chance to win a $40 Visa gift card!

Last Call for Memories
In 40 years, Omnitrans has grown from 29 vehicles to a fleet of 275 buses and 34 routes! That is a lot of rides that transcend generations, so tell us: do you have a fond memory of Omnitrans? Share your story and photo(s) by e-mailing onlinemktg@omnitrans.org. You may also post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #OmniTurns40. Selected stories and photos will be featured as part of our celebration this month.

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Enjoy a Free Ride During Rideshare Week 2016 & Enter to Win Prizes!

Did you know that the average Inland Empire commuter spends almost 60 hours each year in traffic? That’s like a week and a half of vacation time!

California celebrates alternative modes of transportation during Rideshare Week, happening October 3-7 this year! It’s the perfect opportunity to change up your daily commute to work or simply enjoy a leisurely outing around town in a new way.

Omnitrans is making it easy for you to participate this year and reduce your time in traffic with a FREE ride on our buses, redeemable any day and any time during Rideshare Week! This offer is redeemable on Omnitrans, sbX, or OmniGo.

coupon-on-iphone-appMobile App Coupon
If you haven’t already, download the Omnitrans mobile app on your device and click the ‘Free Ride’ tab to obtain the digital coupon. Simply show your bus driver the coupon when you board any day between October 3 and 7. The driver will then issue you one free day pass which you may use for unlimited rides on that day only. Digital app coupons may be redeemed one per customer.

Print Coupon
You may also download and print the Omnitrans free ride coupon directly from our website. Hand the coupon to your bus driver upon boarding any day between October 3 and 7, and they will issue you a free day pass for unlimited rides that day. Print coupons may be redeemed one per customer.

Rideshare Week Prize Drawings
IE Commuter, the Inland Empire’s one-stop shop for transportation information, is a great resource for information about ridesharing and the benefits of sustainable transportation methods including riding the bus, carpooling, vanpooling, bicycling, walking and telecommuting.
When you ride during Rideshare Week, you may enter to win prizes including an Ashley Furniture living room set, a one night stay at Palm Springs’ Ace Hotel & Swim Club, gift cards, and more! Simply visit www.IEcommuter.org to pledge your rideshare today, and you will automatically be entered into the drawing.

Ridesharing has proven to positively impact the individual’s finances and quality of life, as well as promote environment sustainability. Take the pledge today, enter to win prizes, and enjoy your free ride on Omnitrans this Rideshare Week 2016!

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CSUSB Students Head Back To School with Go Smart

The Coyotes are back on campus at Cal State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) this fall for the new school year, and Omnitrans’ Go Smart program continues to make navigating college life easier for students in our service area!

Students at GoSmart schools are entitled to unlimited rides during the school year, with just a simple swipe of their valid student ID card. And they can ride not only on school days, but any day and time of the week! For a complete list of partner schools, click here.

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Rosa, an English major, at the CSUSB sbX station. She is working toward becoming a teacher in her hometown of San Bernardino as a way of giving back to her community.

Rosa, a fifth-year English major at the university, takes advantage of the unlimited rides available to her as a GoSmart student every single day of the week. She has been riding Omnitrans the majority of her time at CSUSB, and it has proven to be a wallet-friendly choice.

“I totally ditched my car and left it at home,” says Rosa, who has a car she could drive to school every day, but has found that riding Omnitrans is the more convenient, money-saving option for her. “I don’t have to pay for a parking pass, which is really expensive.”

Rosa began riding our fixed-route system, but when sbX  rapid transit service was introduced , she has not only continued to save money, but also time since the bus makes fewer stops. “Now that there is sbX, which is faster, I don’t have to wait to get home,” Rosa shares. “It has cut my [commute] time by more than half.”

Similarly, chemistry major Joseph Barrera relies on Omnitrans for transportation to school every weekday.

“This is how I get here from Redlands every day,” says Joseph of Go Smart. “It’s pretty good!”

Riding Omnitrans from downtown Redlands, Joseph connects to the sbX Green Line at the San Bernardino Transit Center daily as he completes his third year of schooling. Joseph is not alone – many of his peers also utilize public transportation as they work toward achieving their academic goals.

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Go Smart students boarding Route 2 at CSUSB.

“Omnitrans’ four routes with direct service to CSUSB are essential to student success,” says Thomas W. Gaffery, director of parking & transportation at CSUSB. “The GoSmart program allows our students to save money on gas and a parking permit, as well as enhancing CSUSB’s commitment to sustainability.”

Saving time and money while decreasing your carbon footprint – Go Smart is definitely the convenient way to go! To plan your trip, check out our route and schedule information online.

Veteran Passenger Benefits from New Connection at SBTC

We gathered on Wednesday, September 14th for the official unveiling of Pass Transit’s Route 120 connection at the San Bernardino Transit Center. The new stop for the commuter route has only been in effect for less than one week, but has already improved mobility of residents such as Vaughn Palmer.

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Vaughn Palmer and Brenda Knight, City of Beaumont Councilmember at the San Bernardino Transit Center.

Vaughn, a Beaumont resident, is a disabled veteran of our armed forces who travels to the Loma Linda VA Hospital several times a month to get health care. Riders receive a free Omnitrans connection at the SBTC when connecting from Pass Transit, which makes it possible for Vaughn to reach new destinations.

“I live in Beaumont and I’m going on full disability, so getting beyond San Bernardino or Loma Linda if I wanted to do it, I couldn’t catch the bus because it didn’t stop [here]. I use this bus all the time to go the VA hospital, but now with this connection I can go anywhere I’d like,” Vaughn said. “I can’t drive, so the bus systems make it a whole lot easier.”

Prior to this week, the nearest connection was at the Metrolink station in San Bernardino, a 24 minute walk to the Transit Center. In fact, Vaughn tells us of a disabled rider who had to travel that distance on his wheelchair to connect with Omnitrans.

“He would have to get off at the train station and come all the way up [to the Transit Center] on his electric wheelchair. But now he gets off here and goes straight to his bus. That’s a big help for those who are handicapped.”

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City of Beaumont officials and staff at the new connection’s unveiling.

Brenda Knight, City of Beaumont Councilmember is pleased that residents who rely on public transit are able to extend their transportation network. “What’s so very, very wonderful about this is that it opened up a new world to get out of Beaumont and to be able to have access to so many, many other areas and it’s just really exciting. I was in on the beginning of the Route 120 and so to see it come this far is absolutely phenomenal,” she says.

Vaughn looks forward to exploring new cities in the San Bernardino Valley with his mother, who is also disabled, now that the partnership between Pass Transit and the SBTC has made heading west easier for them.

For more information about Omnitrans’ reduced bus fare and passes for Veterans, visit Omnitrans.org.

Special Transportation Services Department Aims to Improve Quality of Life

Earlier this year, Omnitrans welcomed the Special Transportation Services (STS) department, formerly known as Valley Transportation Services. STS provides a number of services for senior citizens and people with disabilities, including one-on-one travel training on Omnitrans’ fixed route system. The department also oversees the Transportation Reimbursement Escort Program (TREP) (also known as Volunteer Driver Program), another initiative that makes it easy for eligible individuals to be transported by a friend or relative, who is then reimbursed for trip mileage. Finally, the department’s RIDE program partners Omnitrans with taxi and Lyft services, providing fares at a discounted rate for those who are unable to ride our existing bus service.

The team is lead by Director Nathan Churan, whose vision for the department is to provide innovative transportation options for seniors and individuals with disabilities in the communities which we serve.

The Special Transportation Services department.

Nathan explains that one of the agency’s biggest issues is “first-mile/last-mile,” a common issue in transit regarding the efficiency of getting customers from a transit center or centralized location to their final destination, particularly in less urban areas. For senior citizens and those living with a disability, it can be particularly challenging. “This is a problem that our RIDE partnership with Lyft and taxis, which we’re going to develop and build, can alleviate,” says Nathan.

While the RIDE partnership is a convenience, it presents another complication for those who may not have a smart phone. Nathan has a solution. “There is an app called GoGoGrandparent, where a senior can pick up the phone and request a ride, and the message is sent out to Uber and Lyft,” explains Nathan.

GoGoGrandparent connects the rider to a Lyft or taxi pickup. Because the drivers are aware that the request comes from a GoGoGrandparent user, they are able to provide a higher level of customer service for customers. “The best part is, the senior never even needs to use a smart phone, so this will allow us to really reach that demographic,” explains Nathan.

Elias Camara and Esteban Villegas, Paratransit Eligibility Technicians. They conduct the in-person assessments of applicants who are inquiring about Access, a service for people unable to independently use our fixed route bus service. The technicians determine whether the clients can get to and from a bus stop, if not, one of our special transportation services intervenes and assists anyone who requires being picked up at their home location and transported to their destination.

Future goals include creating partnerships with local senior centers in the county as part of the department’s senior mobility management pilot program. Nathan reveals that after the planning and outreach phase, the department hopes to award contracts to partner senior centers to begin offering some direct services. This will be of great benefit to our community of senior citizens, especially as it relates to their health care transportation needs.

Special Transportation Services’ focus is on improving quality of life for the senior citizen community and those living with disabilities through innovative transportation programs. To become more familiar with their work, and learn how to take advantage of these services, please visit their new webpage on Omnitrans.org.