Tag Archives: omnitrans coach operators

Million Mile Coach Operators honored for safety

Omnitrans coach operators have an excellent safety record

Omnitrans Coach Operators Derman Redman and Cecil Stevens were honored for their milestone achievement of 100 million safe driving miles.

This month, the Omnitrans Million Mile Club welcomed two new 1 million mile drivers and two 2 million mile drivers into its ranks. These dedicated coach operators have achieved the prestigious 1 million mile mark by logging 25,000 driving hours without a preventable accident. It’s the equivalent of driving to the moon and back–twice!

Omnitrans CEO Graham Scott, Operators Director Diane Caldera, Board Chair Alan Wapner, Million Mile Coach Operator Derman Redman

The coach operators were honored in a special awards ceremony at the Omnitrans Board of directors meeting on March 5th. Each received a certificate of recognition and a check for $5oo.

One Million Miler Derman Redman is proud of his 14 years driving for Omnitrans and his record of excellent customer service.  He drives Routes 1 and 2.

Omnitrans CEO Scott Graham, Operations Director Diane Caldera, Board Chair Alan Wapner and Million Mile Coach Operator Cecil Stevens

“I love driving,” he says frankly. “And I like being able to work with such diverse people. I really enjoy seeing all the different nationalities and customs. It’s such a mixing pot on the bus—always full of surprises.”

While people are his greatest joy, they can also present some of the greatest challenges. But Derman believes that friendliness and courteousness goes a long way towards dispelling potential problems.

Million Mile Coach Operator Derman Redman with Operations Manager John Steffon

“It’s hard to be rude to someone who just smiled at you and wished you a great day,” laughs Redman. “I also apologize a lot. If I know a customer has had a bad day or a bad experience, I tell them I’m sorry and do my best to turn things around for them. It’s the quickest way to diffuse a situation. It lets people know you care.”

Million Mile coach operator Cecil Stevens with Operations Manager John Steffon

Million Mile coach operator Cecil Stevens with Operations Manager John Steffon

Route 8 operator Cecil Stevens agrees.  In addition to being a One Million Miler, he recently earned two other titles. He is now a Coach Operator Instructor and a member of our new sbX driving fleet.

A group of Million Mile Club members pose with sbX

A group of Million Mile Club members pose with sbX

“I like being on the road, and I care about people. I try to treat them like I would like to be treated. I always tell my passengers good morning, good night, have a great day. If they seem upset, I ask if they’re alright. I also pay special attention to first time riders and make sure I know where they’re going to so I can help them out. Then when I see them again, I ask how the trip went for them.”  Cecil chuckles. “People are always surprised that I remember them. It’s important to me that they have a good experience on my bus.”

Omnitrans bus drivers honored for safety record

Omnitrans bus drivers honored for safety record

Our Two Million Mile drivers, Krafton Stoll and Andrea Thompson, were unable to attend the awards ceremony. These long-time veterans have a long track record of safety, dedication and caring and are an inspiration to all of us.

Congratulations to all our Million Mile award winners. You make us proud!

Omnitrans Million Mile safe drivers and their trainers

The Omnitrans training team with our One Million Mile award winners: (left to right) Cecil Stevens, Steven McClure, Kimberly Perkins, Don Frazier, Verretta Johnson, Terry Molloy, Derman Redman, and Christina Diaz

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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Omnitrans is why I stay in San Bernardino

When their car was totaled in an accident eight years ago, Eric Newton and his wife Brenda decided it was time to forgo the expense of repairing and maintaining a personal vehicle. The two have relied on Omnitrans as their sole source of transportation ever since. They depend on the bus to shop for groceries, pick up medicine or to visit their favorite destination—Victoria Gardens.

“I’ve gotten to know most of the drivers, and they are great people,” says Eric. “I find them to be courteous, friendly and good about helping people who need information. In fact, Omnitrans is one of the reasons we decided to stay in San Bernardino. A few years ago I had the opportunity to move back to Riverside where I grew up but, after riding both transit systems, I really like the bus drivers here. Robin, Ken and Pete are some of our favorites. They don’t just tell you to get a bus book or point you to a sign when you have a question. They’re more courteous and willing to take a moment to help. That really makes a difference.”

Born with cerebral palsy, Eric is confined to a wheelchair, but that doesn’t slow him down a bit. The 55-year-old San Bernardino resident does computer repair and volunteers his time as a youth pastor at Vineyard Christian Fellowship on E Street.

Eric and Brenda have been married for 19 years. They first met on Thanksgiving Eve when a friend set them up on a blind date. He dropped Eric off at Brenda’s apartment for a quiet evening of drinks and conversation, and the two hit it off right away.

“At the end of the evening, she went to give me her number so I would call her again. I told her I wasn’t going home, that I thought I should stay right there because we made a good pair. She laughed, and I stayed. We were engaged by Christmas Eve and have been together ever since.”

His secret to a great marriage?  “Happy wife, happy life,” he says promptly. “We take care of each other.”

- Juno Kughler Carlson
   juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

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

Holiday Tree Contest Spreads Good Cheer

Omnitrans Coach Operator Lorina Le’Roy and her “Vintage Kitchen” Christmas tree.

Coach Operator Lorina Le-Roy and Dispatcher Mark Donelly can always be relied on to do our holiday decorating at the East Valley office. This year, due to their busy schedules, Lorina thought maybe they they could try something a little different that would both save them time and get their co-workers caught up in the holiday spirit.

Lorina asked Operations Director Diane Caldera for permission to bring in several artificial trees and hold a tree decorating contest.  Diane thought it was a marvelous idea, and so our first annual holiday tree contest was born.

Everyone got into the spirit of the event, and there was quite of bit of excitement and friendly rivalry as the trees took shape. Each one was as as interesting and unique as the individuals who created them. We thought you might enjoy a little sneak peek behind the scenes for a look at these wonderful entries and some of the people who created them.

Our first place winner was Coach Operator Debbbie Molloy with her tree “Winter of Freedom.” It’s a heartfelt tribute to her son who is currently stationed in Texas, as well as to all the men and women who serve in our nation’s military. Her tree was decked in red, white and blue and  featured a marine ornament, a sailor nutcracker, flags and Santa.

Coach Operator Debbie Molloy won first place for her holiday tree, “Winter of Freedom.”

Second place went to Coach Operators Pamela Valigura and Maria Granado. They chose a vintage tree theme that incorporated lovely Victorian ornaments and an angel who kept a benevolent eye on our bus yard.

Coach Operators Maria Granado (left) and Pamela Valigura (right) with their vintage Christmas tree.

Coming in at third place was husband and wife Coach Operators Mike and Tina Hinkle with their “Special Ops Tree.” Classic green army soldiers and helicopters poised among the branches and a teddy bear in fatigues was deployed from the ceiling above.

The “Special Ops Tree” by Coach Operators Mike and Tina Hinkle

For a closer look at these trees as well as the other entries in the competition, view the slideshow below. Original themes included “Girls Night Out,” “The Baby Shower Tree,” “The Wave Tree,” “The Raiders Tree,” “The Manly Tree” and many more.

From all of us at Omnitrans, thank you for allowing us to serve you. We wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Coach Operators: hiring the best of the best

Meet our newest coach operator graduates. Bottom row, left to right- Tondra Williams, Roy Everett, Valerie Nelson, Jeremy Aragon. Top row, left to right- Ron Maestos, Michael Garrett, Israel Eze, Curtis Barry

This month we welcomed our newest group of coach operator graduates. They recently completed 5-6 weeks of extensive training to pass their final tests and join our operations department as full-fledged coach operators.

But before they ever began that training, these aspiring drivers had to undergo an 8-step screening process that identified them as the best of the best of all potential candidates.  Did you know that on average only 8% of the people who apply for the position, actually go on to become an Omnitrans coach operator?

The majority of our applicants hear about job openings by subscribing to our job alerts. Others come to us through employee referrals or as walk-ins. For each opening we receive an average of 250 applicants, yet only around 20 are hired to begin actual training. And out of those trainees, often only half continue past the final exam.

Valerie Nelson (left) proudly shows off the coach operator certificate presented to her by Director of Operations, Diane Caldera (right).

Here’s a quick look at our 8 -step screening process, which helps us select those individuals best suited to become coach operators.

Step 1 – The Application
Surprisingly, many candidates are immediately eliminated in this first step because they have either failed to fill out portions of the application or have neglected to sign it. It is absolutely vital that you provide all the information requested in order to ensure your application isn’t passed over as incomplete.

Step 2 – The Minimum Qualifications
In order to even be considered for a coach operator position, an applicant must be 21 or older and have no more than 2 points within a 3 year period within 10 years of driving time.  A recent (not more than 30 days old) DMV-H6  form must be attached to the application form to even be considered for the position.

Step 3 -The Testing
Omnitrans does extensive testing on all applicants to assess their work ethics, customer service, and driving skills.  Those that pass the examination are placed on an eligibility list for a period of up to 1 year.

Step 4 – The Interview
An interview date is scheduled. When the applicant arrives, they will participate in  two sets of interviews, one with an HR representative and one with our operations department management team. An outstanding work ethic, strong driving skills, and excellent customer service all figure prominently in the selection process.

Step 5 – The Background Check
A background check is completed on all applicants to ensure they are candidates in good standing.

 Step 6 – The Pre-Assessment
Candidates are asked to perform several physical tasks that will determine if they can perform the essential job functions of a Coach Operator.  This could include such physical tasks as the ability to lift a certain amount of weight, simulating the tie down of a wheelchair, and having the ability to walk up and down steps repeatedly.

Step 7 – The Physical Screening
Our Occupational Health Provider administers a DOT physical exam and DOT drug test.  All candidates being considered for employment for all positions within the organization must successfully pass a physical examination and drug test before they are hired.

Step 8 – The Permit
Candidates must obtain a Class B driving permit with air brakes and passenger endorsement prior to employment.

Once a candidate is hired, they  must successfully complete 5-6 weeks of classroom and on the road training before graduating to  full-fledged coach operator. It’s truly an accomplishment of which to be proud!

If you happen to run into any of our new operators on your route, you’ll know that they are among the finest in their profession. Be sure to give them a shout out and say hi. They are looking forward to serving you.

You can view more photos of our graduating class on Flickr.

Thanks to Denise Gibson and Misty Tshilonda in HR for providing background information on our hiring process.

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Graduating Coach Operator Curtis Barry is congratulated by his very proud mom.

Interested in a career at Omnitrans? Visit our career opportunities page for a list of open job positions.

Juno Carlson: Employee of The Quarter

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Juno Kughler Carlson“Connecting our Community” is more than just a slogan to Marketing Specialist Juno Kughler Carlson, it’s her mission. 

Juno oversees all social media communications at Omnitrans and utilizes these channels to engage people in conversations about Omnitrans and about life in general. Frequently these conversations turn into profiles of customers, employees and community partners which end up on her award-winning blog. 

“I love that I can write articles about our employees and passengers,” said Juno. “Coach Operators, business commuters, families, students, vets, volunteers—they are everyday heroes with personal stories that make you look at public transit in a whole new way. I think it’s one of the reasons our blog has become so popular. It’s human and it’s relatable.”

Customer stories reveal the impact that Omnitrans has on individual lives, which is essential to demonstrating Omnitrans’ value in the community. Employee profiles shine the spotlight on the many proud transit professionals working at Omnitrans, which helps bolster teamwork and agency morale.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve been able to expand our online reach through our blog and social media. The blog has grown to become the backbone of our entire online marketing strategy, and the response on our social networks has been amazing.” Juno said.

Recently Juno developed a new, low cost Omnitrans mobile device app for customers.  Now available through Google Play and coming soon to iTunes, the app provides quick links to bus schedules, real time arrivals, and our Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube sites.

Hired in January 2012, due to her vast knowledge and experience in the social media arena, Juno has delivered, with our Facebook following growing from 974 to over 3,000. Her blog won a first place award in American Public Transportation Association’s AdWheel competition in 2012.  Due to her social media success, Juno was asked to present at the ATPA Marketing Communications Workshop and the California Transit Association fall conference this year.

While Juno uses the latest technology to engage customers, she strives to maintain a personal touch. “It’s important to communicate with our online customers as a real person and not some faceless Internet entity. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me how surprised they were to get a personal response to something they posted on our Facebook page,” she explained. “These types of social conversations not only provide us with valuable feedback on our services, they also help build trust and loyalty with our riders.”

- Wendy Williams
   Wendy.Williams@omnitrans.org 

Coach Operator Spreads Easter Joy!

Coach Operators Darlene from Rte 9, Marie from Rte 29 & 7 and Cherylyn from Rte 4

Everyone is getting into the spirit of Easter in the drivers’ lunch room today!

Omnitrans coach operator Marie Breaux

Omnitrans coach operator Marie Breaux has a 10-year tradition of wearing special hats for every holiday, and for Easter she’s breaking out her bunny ears. She also has big bags of candy to share with her passengers on Routes 29 and  7 today. If you happen to catch her coach today, let her know how much she rocks!

Omnitrans Field Supervisor Roberta Robertson

Omnitrans Field Supervisor Roberta Robertson

What does it take to be a good Field Supervisor? “You have to be a people person,” says Roberta Robertson. “You need to be able to assert authority in creative ways in order to diffuse tense situations.  And it’s important to listen–even if someone is chomping you out. Each individual is unique, and you need to be flexible and adapt to different personalities. You have to be that chameleon.”

Last October, Roberta joined Omnitrans as a field supervisor. Previously she worked part time for the City of Redlands Police Department in their community service division. Her full time job was working with probationary kids in a youth facility where she was a safety and security supervisor. She also has 15 years’ experience as a coach operator and drove buses for OCTA for 12 years. Her strength, she says, is conflict resolution and diffusing situations.

“The most challenging part of the job was coming here as an outside hire and trying to build relationships with the coach operators. It took a little time for them to see that I know my job, that I have high integrity, and that I listen to them and treat them fairly.  One of my roles is to counsel, but I also have to report things that could be a problem or safety issue. We’re all here for a common goal, to provide the best service we can to our customers.”

Mentoring is something Roberta understands well. She’s devoted much of her life to counseling young adults and encouraging them to reach for their dreams. She’s a volunteer in the “Midnight Hoops” basketball program at the Redlands Community Center which provides a supervised, safe haven for youth. “I grew up in the inner city, where there was a lot of gang activity. We lived in a low income neighborhood where people didn’t have any goals and never knew anything other than the street they grew up in.  As a kid I knew early on I wanted something different. I started playing sports and discovered I had a gift for basketball, averaging 30 points a game. It became my ticket out, allowing me to go to college. That’s part of the reason I like talking to kids. I tell them if I can do it, you can do it. But you do have to grab the opportunity when it presents itself.  If you’re motivated, a hard worker and have a desire to get things done there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.”

Roberta’s work ethic, self-discipline, versatility and personal rapport provide a strong foundation for her role as a Field Supervisor. The job requires wearing many hats, and often supervisors won’t know from one day to the next what their schedules will entail. They might have to investigate a customer complaint or commendation, serve papers, do a write up, handle a special task they are assigned or even drive a bus if the agency is short-handed. Often they are responding to calls, fixing fare boxes, or addressing customer service issues. Sometimes they are needed to set up detours due to construction. Approximately 7 hours of time each day is spent in the field. The safe operation of buses for both passenger and drivers is always a priority, and the bus agency wants customers to be happy with their experience so they will ride again.

“I’m out of my van more than I am in which is a little different for this culture,” says Roberta. “I don’t take complaints on the street—I guide them to our 800 number for that. But I do walk downtown a lot and talk to people. It’s a good way to build rapport with and get information from the riders who use our buses every day. It humanizes the bus service for them and earns their respect. It makes it easier to do my job. And if something goes down where I need help, they might remember me and have my back. I do the same with the operators. When I check in with a driver in the field, I always greet them with a smile and try to bring them a cold water. How you treat people has a domino effect. If you help them have a great day, that attitude spills over to everyone else they deal with.”

Ultimately, a Field Supervisor’s responsibility is to observe and report. Primarily their investigations are driven by complaints or commendations reported to the Omnitrans customer service line. A Field Supervisor may be assigned go into the field to watch what’s going on and take notes or asked to query video to verify the information received. Both complaints and commendations are investigated thoroughly to ensure their validity and to ensure they are connected to the correct driver. This can be difficult to do because often a customer doesn’t have the operator’s badge ID and coach number. They just have an area and approximate time frame, which takes longer to research. If performance standards are down, it is up to the Field Supervisor to figure out what’s happening.

“It’s hard when you know someone’s job is on the line,” says Roberta. “But it’s about being fair and adhering to the process.

The goal of the agency is to change the behavior through education and progressive discipline. Most of the time guidance and mentoring, along with classes designed to help improve customer service and driving skills, is enough to correct the problem.

“Operators have to understand the type of job they have. I was 21 when I started driving. I was such a little skinny chick, it used to scare people. Passengers would tease me and say ‘Are you sure you know how to drive this thing?’” Roberta laughs.  “It’s an immense obligation to know that you’re responsible for every person on that bus, for how well you’re driving and for how you talk to people. Anybody could be on that bus at any time. Once a mayor was on my bus and I didn’t know it. You don’t want to do anything that could jeopardize your reputation or the reputation of the company you work for.”

–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