Tag Archives: omnitrans community

Coach Operators: more than a driver

As Omnitrans CEO Milo Victoria points out, transit is not about buses. It’s about people. “Omnitrans provides a great service to the community. It’s not just about transferring people from point A to point B. We consider our passengers to be part of our family, and families take care of each other.”

This is why every Omnitrans coach operator receives extensive training, not only in customer service and the safe operation of our coaches, but in multiple emergency scenarios as well. They learn to deal with a wide variety of crisis situations from careless car drivers to terrorist attacks. The goal is to be prepared for anything.

Over the past year Omnitrans coach operators have helped with the identification and safe return of elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s. They have acted to save lives of those suffering from heart attacks or diabetic seizures. They have offered assistance to women who appeared to be victims of abuse. They have even come to the aid of small children who were lost or abandoned.

Yesterday, one coach operator had the opportunity to put his emergency skills into action when an officer-involved shooting took place near Hospitality in San Bernardino. See the full story in the San Bernardino Sun. He was driving his bus when he heard the sound of gunfire and his rearview mirror suddenly shattered. This 18 year fleet veteran acted quickly, calmly pulling the bus out of danger, speaking with police on the scene and notifying dispatch.

“I was scared at first,” he said frankly. “But then my training kicked in and I knew exactly what to do. My first priority was the safety of my passengers.”

“This is the whole purpose of our training program,” says Omnitrans training supervisor Don Frazier. “Because our coach operators are so well prepared, their reaction becomes almost instinctive. Ray Lopez, our director of Safety and Security, and his team Brenda Rosas and Mark Crosby do a really remarkable job with annual emergency training. The coach operators are given the skills to handle even the most unexpected situation and are confident in the immediate support and backup they will receive from dispatch and our field supervisors. Being a coach operator is not just about driving a bus. It’s about helping people and coping with the unexpected curves life throws at us every day.”

– 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

Bus Rider Enjoys Community Connection

Edie Gerardo has always ridden the bus. And she doesn’t mind it one bit.

“I love it,” admits the 48-year old mom. “It’s interesting, learning the different streets and getting to know your way around the different cities. You really get to know your community and see all the changes that are happening.”

As a long time passenger, Edie finds that there is a special camaraderie that grows among regular riders.

“On the bus you get familiar with a lot of people. After a while, you know each other’s stops. You ask how each other is doing, where you’re headed that day. It’s very friendly. I remember there was one man who used to always ride the Route 80 from Holt to 4th and Vineyard. One day he fell asleep. I pushed the button and when we pulled over, the bus driver checked to see why I wasn’t getting off. I pointed to the man and explained that this was his stop, but that he had fallen asleep. She nodded, and the two of us woke him up. He was very happy we were looking out for him,” Edie smiles. “Sometimes a new person gets on who’s nervous and doesn’t know the routes, and we all help them get where they need to go. That’s what we do. We take care of each other.”

Edie never learned to drive, so all seven of her children have grown up riding Omnitrans. In fact her youngest, now twelve, loves hopping on the bus with his dad and exploring the city with no particular destination in mind.

Her oldest son commutes from Fontana to Upland on the bus every day. Although it takes a bit longer than it would by car, he uses the down time to de-stress and unwind from his day. When he arrives home, he is relaxed and ready to enjoy some family time with his two boys.

For Edie and her family, it all boils down to independence, financial savings and a sense of connecting with their community. “The bus is always there for us,” said Edie simply.

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 Kughler Carlson at  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org