Tag Archives: omnitrans coach operators

Leadership program encourages employee innovation

Six of our employees graduated from the Omnitrans Leadership Action Program (LAP) this month. During the 6-month program, each participant worked on a project of their choosing with the potential to improve a process or generate significant savings for Omnitrans. The participants thoroughly research their projects and present their findings to the executive leadership team for possible implementation. This year, the combined projects have the potential to save the agency more than $2 million per year!

Ross Hrinko: Benefits of Preventative Health & Wellness Programs
Encouraging participation in the agency’s Wellness Program, soliciting employee feedback and enhancing communication on preventative health are a few areas Ross targets as potential areas of refinement.  The introduction of “Company Nurse” services could assist employees with health issues, by making referrals or suggesting alternative treatment. This would cut back on costly and unnecessary doctor visits, while still providing valuable information and support to the patient.

Louise Acosta – Liquid Natural Gas Delivery vs. Pipeline Natural Gas
For her project, Louise investigated the pros and cons of switching from liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel delivery to pipeline natural gas. Omnitrans currently pays for the delivery of LNG fuel from a third party vendor. Natural pipeline gas would cost substantially less than LNG, but initially would require new equipment to compress the gas for our buses.

Joseph Tibita – Reorganizing Mobile Offices for Cost Reduction
Joseph’s goal was to redesign the equipment placement and storage  in our 15 Field Supervisor mobile offices for practical use and savings. By improving the positioning and layout of user interfaces and streamlining the wiring of data and power cables with a docking station, his plan eliminates the problem of lost time due to displaced equipment and slow system access, and prevents safety hazards.

Christina Diaz – Coach Simulator Acquisition & Training
Christina’s proposal to acquire a coach simulator for operator training was recently actualized. By partnering with Cal State San Bernardino in exchange for data generated by the simulator, Omnitrans was able to obtain the $70,000 simulator for free. Coaches are needed for many types of training, but pulling a coach from revenue service costs the agency approximately $90 per hour. As an added benefit, the simulator can safely mimic challenging and hazardous scenarios not easily duplicated on the road. This allows coach operators to improve their reaction times, behavioral driving, judgmental and perceptual skills. The simulator has also been successfully implemented by the Omnitrans workforce development program to introduce the public to regional coach operator careers.

Caroljo Mitcham –  CNG Conversion & Off-site Fueling of Access Fleet
Caroljo focused on the savings generated by transitioning our current Access paratransit fleet from unleaded gasoline to CNG fuel. By obtaining CNG fuel from an offsite service station, current regulatory compliance fees and tank maintenance would be eliminated and costs would be reduced.

 

Carolann Williams – Rostering Versus Cafeteria Run Bid Process
With the current cafeteria style run  bid, coach operators select and bid on the routes, shifts and days off they want. It is a lengthy process and, depending on how these are combined, can result in split days off for the coach operator. 
With rostering, off days are built into the work assignment, which  reduces the number of days the bid process takes, gives coach operators more varied work assignments to choose from, and minimizes the number of split days off.

Funny Valentines: Deb & Terry Molloy

Debbie and Terry Molloy first met 19 years ago when they were both working for Omnitrans as coach operators. You might say it was love at first sight.

“I was driving the route 14 my first day when Terry relieved me in front of the yard,” Debbie recalls. “Because I was brand new, I was all nervous and didn’t pay any attention to him. I just wanted off that bus! The second day when he climbed aboard, he asked ‘Are you doing this every day at this time?’ I remember thinking oh my goodness what a voice! Then I looked up and saw his face and that was it. He was so nice and very good-looking. The following week, we kept running into each other at lunch time. There were about five of us that used to meet for lunch every day. Then, before we knew it, it dwindled down to just the two of us.”

Terry nods. “We just clicked, you know?”

Debbie smiles. “Anyway, we went out to lunch together for about a year, and we found out we had a lot of things in common. We got to know each other pretty well. He was just a very gentle, soft-spoken person. I saw that he was kind-hearted and very giving. I liked that.”

“It started off as a good friendship for us,” agreed Terry. “As I got to know her, I could see she was real—there was nothing fake about her. And I noticed that she was a very good parent to her kids. That sort of clued me in as to who she was.”  He shrugs. “She also laughed at my jokes.”

“Some of them I laughed at because I thought I’d BETTER laugh.” points out Debbie.

“Uh huh. She chased me for months,” Terry teases. “Finally I just said okay. I’m yours.”

“I did pursue him,” Debbie confesses. “It took him a long time to ask me out on a date, so I finally invited him to come over to my place for dinner.”

Terry laughs. “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach right?” He leans back in his chair and adds more seriously. “Nah. She was fun. She enjoyed the same things that I did. We were best friends, got to know each other, and it just blossomed from there.

Debbie arches a brow at her husband. “But I didn’t know quite everything. I didn’t realize that he had had a fiance until I was moving in with him and cleaning out the cupboards.”

Terry knows what’s coming. He looks sheepishly at his wife, who has a mischievous sparkle in her eye. They both start to laugh.

“Terry kept the old engagement ring in his sock drawer, and I found it when I was putting laundry away. Anyway, about a week later he says ‘So what are you doing for lunch tomorrow?’”

“I just looked at him and pointed out that we usually go out for lunch together. He said ‘No, I think we’ll go look for a ring for you.’ And I said oh really? The next thing I know, he’s bringing me over the ex’s ring to try on and asking if I like it.”

Terry groans, “I had no idea she knew about it.”

Deb continues gleefully. “I put on the ring, looked and it on my hand and told him no, actually I don’t like it. We ended up taking that ring back to Zales, and I got to pick out a ring that I wanted. But he never asked me to marry him. He just said ‘What are you doing for lunch tomorrow?’”

“And you never said yes,” Terry grins.

“So here we are,” says Debbie. “We were so close and so connected. And all three of my kids love him. They just adore him.

“It was the same with my two kids,” adds Terry. “They just blended and are all close. It worked out well. But it was tough sometimes when they were younger because we wanted to be fair and treat them all the same.”

Debbie nods. “Like on Saturdays I would say okay before you watch cartoons go in the bedroom and make your beds. They’d all look at me like really? You’re not my mom. Stuff like that. And Terry would say don’t worry, Deb, they’ll all be grown up before you know it. And it happened just like that.” She snaps her fingers.

Her husband leans back in his chair. “It was like overnight they were all gone. Now with the new grandbaby, we can do it all over again.

Debbie’s face lights up at the thought of the new addition to their family. “Madison is beautiful. I really like that we get to help raise her together as grandparents. Did you know we’ll be married 18 years in October? And we’re comfortable together. We love to travel now that the kids are gone. A lot of nights we just stay in, snuggle and watch TV.”

“ Communication is really the key. And we never take work home,” says Terry seriously. “If we have anything to say about work, we talk about it here or in the car before we get home. We keep it separate.”

Today, Debbie is an sbX coach operator, and Terry is a Fleet Safety and Training Instructor.

“We like working at Omnitrans,” Deb says frankly. “I don’t think I would want to be in an office with him. But because he’s here and I’m on the road, we do fine. When we do our ATCR classes I look forward to having him as an instructor. I get to see the way everyone reacts to him. People really like him as a trainer. He keeps it fun. It makes me proud to be in there when he’s doing his job.”

“You have to be that way,” Terry explains. “Some people go in there, and they’re straight by the book. That’s just not who I am. You have to bring a little bit of something in with it. You get to know each other better that way.”

I ask what their plans are for Valentine’s Day.

“We’re going to San Diego to get our taxes done,” Terry says promptly

The two look at each other and burst out laughing.

“Our tax man called us and said he had one open appointment but that we wouldn’t want it because it was on Valentine’s Day,” Debbie explains. “Terry said no we want it.”

“We’ll get there early and spend the day and maybe go out for dinner or something afterwards,” he adds.

Debbie smiles. “We’re looking forward to it.”

 – Juno Kughler Carlson
   juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

A visit with Omnitrans student coach operators

Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Steve McClure and a student coach operator go through routes on the system map

Our latest group of student coach operators spent time this week both in the classroom and out in the bus yard, mastering the customer service and technical skills they will need before going out on the road. I stopped by the training room yesterday to visit the class to see how it was going so far.

“Probably the most challenging thing so far is having to learn all 26 routes within a couple of weeks. It’s rough, but we can do it,” says one of the students confidently. The rest of the class nods, smiling.

“Christina’s been teaching us to use key words to help us remember each route,” adds another student. “For example, I remember that the route on Baseline and 16th is the 67  because 1 + 6 = 7. For some reason that sticks for me.”

Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Christina Diaz has no doubt her charges will be ready to pass their final test. “They are on this.  They’re a great group and they’re absorbing information like sponges.”

Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Christina Diaz

She points out there’s a lot more more memorization involved in training that most people realize. Not only do student coach operators have to remember the routes, they also have to commit to memory all the radio codes and fare box codes as well. This means lots of study time at home after  class.

The trainers also ensure the students experience public transit firsthand from a rider perspective. They have them ride the system in addition to learning to drive it.

“Earlier this week we dropped each of them off in different parts of Montclair,” laughs Christine. “And they had to figure out what buses to take to get back to the San Bernardino office. They actually did very well.”

Many of the students have operated large vehicles before, which they point out can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Sometimes it means there are bad habits they have to break–like how to handle the steering wheel.

One of the students demonstrates how NOT to hold the steering wheel.

“Hand positions are at 10-2, 9-3, or 8-4 and should be kept on the outside rim of the wheel,” explains Christina.

“And no palming or putting your hand in the crossbar,”says a young man in the back.”The wheel could spin suddenly and you could get hurt or cause an accident”

Christina grins proudly. “See? They’ve got this.”

The class laughs. They joke with each other, mimicking examples of bad drivers at the wheel. They are obviously a close knit crew and have already bonded over the past two weeks. All of them are looking forward to going out in the field with coach operator instructors next week and driving the routes.

As I get ready to leave, they wave and say goodbye.

“Make sure you’re here on graduation day to take our picture,” calls out one of the women. “You’re going to need a wide lens ’cause we are all going to graduate. We’re in this together!”

-Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

Student coach operators clocking out at dispatch at the end of the day

 

Omnitrans employees donate to Locks of Love

Coach Operator Marianne Rose, Dispatcher Al Mooney, and Coach Operator Linda Buckley

A few Omnitrans employees are sporting a new look at the office. Dispatcher Al Mooney and Coach Operators Marianne Rose and Linda Buckley recently took advantage of a Super Cuts special that offered free haircuts to clients who were willing to donate their hair to Locks of Love.

Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. The prostheses provided help to restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers.

This is the fourth time dispatcher Al Mooney has donated his signature ponytail to the charity. He also shaved his beard off to match his new look. “I do this about every 5 years. It’s a great cause and I’m happy to help make a difference.” He chuckles. “Besides, it’s always fun when I walk into the office afterwards and no one recognizes me.”

This is Linda Buckley’s first time making a donation. “It was something I’ve thought about for a while because I know a lot of people with cancer who have gone through treatments. When this opportunity came up, I knew it was a way I could help someone who really needed it.”

For cancer survivor Marianne Rose, the act holds special meaning. “My mom died of cancer. During her treatment, she received one of those wigs, and it meant so much to her. It helped her to look like old herself again, and it touched all of us to see her so happy.”

In 2009 Marianne herself 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.

“Now I am 5 years cancer free,” she smiles. “It’s a little funny, you know. When you have cancer you get extremely superstitious. You feel that as long as you don’t change anything, as long as you keep growing your hair, everything is okay. For 4 ½ years I never had a haircut. Now I’m finally realizing that I’m going to be around for a while. This is my way of celebrating and giving back what I can.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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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 

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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.