Tag Archives: omnitrans employees

Employee of the Quarter Ed Cooney

Our dispatchers play a vital role at Omnitrans – they make sure our bus system delivers service by guiding coaches and operators through obstacles from detours to mechanical problems to customer service issues – every day!

Dispatcher Ed Cooney’s strong work ethic and problem-solving skills made him stand out among his peers during the October-December 2017, making him the Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter!

Ed describes the award as a surprising honor that he did not see coming. After 25 years working with Omnitrans, he views this place as his second home, where he is simply happy to be of service to his community through our dedicated drivers.

“I like the people and we’re family here, although sometimes dysfunctional, like any other family,” he laughs. “That’s one of the major motivators. I’ve been put in a position where I can help people, and that makes all the difference.”

After almost six years driving for Metro in Los Angeles, Ed’s adventurous side took over and he decided to go to Brazil where he worked for a year. After moving back home to the States and settling in Montclair, he spotted an Omnitrans bus and chatted with the driver about his job. He was persuaded, and decided to give Omnitrans a try. He switched directions and headed east, this time, on I-10 to apply for a job as a coach operator.

“This entire lot was all dirt,” reminisces Ed as we overlook the East Valley bus yard in San Bernardino. “There was a single bungalow that housed human resources, finance, the CEO. Everyone was in that one trailer. I remember the mechanics had dug a trench, and they would drive the bus over the trench to work on bus maintenance.”

Ed Cooney and a new dispatcher in training go over the Trapeze Ops software used for record-keeping.

As Omnitrans progressed, so did Ed’s career. After five years of driving our buses, he was promoted to a dispatching role in which he has served ever since. Last year, when his supervisor retired, Ed selflessly rose above and beyond his required work duties to take on tasks of the vacant supervisor role. While doing research, Ed discovered software configuration errors, and took the initiative to tackle them himself.

With only four days of informal training, Ed took on the task of solving this problem, working 12-hour days and weekends alongside his peers, I.T., and the software vendor. As a result of Ed’s initiative and manual improvements to the process, the agency was prevented from overspending $10,000.

“I still go in everyday and double check for errors,” he explains. “In this job, I’m not obligated to do this. I could’ve asked management to hire someone that could fix this, but I felt a responsibility to the operators so that things were operating as they should.”

This month, the Omnitrans Board of Directors recognized Ed as our Employee of the Quarter for his diligence in ensuring that the necessary improvements were made and tested prior to live implementation of the software.

“Ed is a recognized leader in the dispatch office and is greatly respected by his peers for his loyalty, ability, and willingness to help others in times of need,” says Director of Operations Diane Caldera. “His recognition as Employee of the Quarter is greatly deserved.”

Employee of the Quarter Ed Cooney (center) is congratulated by (from the left) Board of Directors Chair Ron Dailey and CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham.

“When I found out, I thought to myself, ‘Is there another Ed Cooney who works here?’ he recounts. “I think because I grew up in an environment where we didn’t get praise or appreciation, so when you do, it makes you feel a little awkward at first. But I appreciate Diane Caldera for nominating me and individually recognizing every dispatcher’s work. The morale has really been raised since she’s taken over.”

Travel and family time also are huge parts of Ed’s life. He recently visited Hawaii, and often flies to Brazil, which is where his wife hails from. He is a proud father to his two daughters, graduates of University of California, Los Angeles and University of California, Santa Barbara.

“I don’t have an R.V. because of tuition bills,” he jokes. “But I was so happy to win this award after 25 years of working here. I knew my loyalty to Omnitrans, which could be best described as canine in nature, would someday lead to this recognition!”

Omnitrans Employee of the Year 2017

Employee of the Quarter John Steffon (left) is presented with his award by CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham (right) and Board of Directors Chair Ron Dailey (center) at February’s board meeting.

As he prepares for retirement in just a few months, East Valley Transportation Manager John Steffon is definitely going out on a high note as Omnitrans recognizes him as the Employee of the Year for 2017!

Throughout the last year, John played a crucial role in keeping Omnitrans operations flowing smoothly during a time when numerous management positions were vacant in his department. John postponed his retirement as he took on duties of the West Valley Transportation Manager, East Valley Assistant Transportation Manager, and Dispatch Supervisor in addition to his own.

During this time, the operations department was able to increase our part-time driver roster to ensure that bus service needs were met for our community and to prevent our current coach operators from working overtime on their days off. John was instrumental to these efforts and the successful onboarding of new drivers as he managed many of the day-to-day functions of the department.

“Time management was tough,” admits John. “Some of your own work has to take a backseat to what really needs to be done then and there. This was the biggest challenge – trying to keep everything up to date from attendance, to handling all ATM duties, making sure all dispatch supervisor duties were being handled, and covering at West Valley if we needed to handle any disciplinary issues.”

Although John looks forward to retiring soon, he remains fully committed to our mission of connecting our community while he is still here. “It’s coming to an end and it’ll be time to move on in a few months. Omnitrans has been very good to me, and I come here every day with a smile on my face.”

Congratulations, John! Your dedication to your employees and to our passengers is valued and appreciated.

Meet the new Omnitrans interns!

Omnitrans is proud to introduce our three new interns! As these young professionals work toward their career goals, we are proud to be providing them with an enriching experience that will give them job skills that only can be obtained outside the classroom, and prepare them for the “real world.”

“Bringing new interns to Omnitrans makes them aware of how an organization works. They are able to obtain knowledge, skills, and abilities to bring added value to the table,” says Director of Human Resource Marjorie Ewing. “By providing this opportunity, we are giving students a paid internship, exposure, and the experience they need in seeking out their career goals.”

Get to know our interns:

Laura B., Emergency Preparedness Intern

Laura B., Colton, California
Emergency Preparedness Intern
Biology major (emphasis in Biotechnology) at Brigham Young University, Idaho

So far, what do you enjoy most about working at Omnitrans?
What I enjoy the most about working at Omnitrans is the many learning opportunities I experience as I tackle new projects. Each project has been different than the previous one which challenges me and keeps things very interesting.

What are your career goals?
My careers goals are to continue my education and obtain a master’s degree and doctorate degree in the field of nursing. I hope to achieve a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in order to work in roles of clinical practice-oriented leadership, managerial, or executive level positions.

How has your internship helped you get closer to achieving those career goals?
The Safety and Security team has taught me the importance of communicating and writing effectively by giving me the chance to formulate procedures, presentations, and processes. I am improving upon my time management skills by setting my own pace for timely completion of my projects. Not only am I brushing up on those skill sets, but am also gaining a lot of knowledge regarding emergency preparedness which will be very useful in my career as a nurse should I be called upon to assist when or if disaster strikes.

Hector E., Human Resources Intern

Hector E., Highland, California
Human Resources Intern
Business Administration major (emphasis in Human Resource Management) at California Polytechnic State University, Pomona

So far, what do you enjoy most about working at Omnitrans?
I enjoy how welcoming and helpful everyone has been. Everyone works well together as a team. Overall, I believe that Omnitrans is an amazing company to work for.

What are your career goals?
I plan on becoming a compensation analyst and eventually move up as a compensation manager. I plan on earning my Certified Compensation Professional Certification (CCP) and attending graduate school to obtain my Master of Business Administration degree with a specialization in Human Resource Management.

How has your internship helped you get closer to achieving those career goals?
My internship is helping me have a better understanding of all the different functions in HR. I am able to utilize what I have learned in class and apply it towards my daily duties. In addition, Omnitrans has provided a solid foundation of learning that will allow me to grow in my career.

Myles G., Rail Operations Intern

Myles G., Hesperia, California
Rail Operations Intern
Master of Science in Transportation Management at San Jose State University

So far, what do you enjoy most about working at Omnitrans?
I enjoy working with Director of Rail Operations Trischelle and Compliance Officer Loretta as they mentor and take me under their wing to not only show me the procedures and operations of rail, but also how to build a great railroad from the ground up which is what we are doing in preparation for the Arrow launch.

What are your career goals?
My career goals are to further myself in the rail industry, whether it be in the public transit sector or working with freight rail. This is an excellent starting point to broaden my knowledge and get familiar with all elements of the transportation industry, specifically in rail.

How has your internship helped you get closer to achieving those career goals?
My internship has helped me get closer to my career goals first and foremost by getting my foot in the industry and giving me opportunities to network heavily with other transportation and railroad professionals.

For current internship opportunities at Omnitrans, and other jobs available, please visit Omnitrans.org!

Omnitrans Hires Deputy General Manager Erin Rogers

We are honored to welcome to the Omnitrans family the newest member of the executive team: Deputy General Manager Erin Rogers!

A Syracuse, New York native and resident of Tustin, Erin joins Omnitrans with nearly 30 years of experience in the transit industry. Her journey began in Boston, where she first worked as a paratransit manager at DAVE Transportation Services.

Erin spent 16 years working for the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), including 10 as assistant general manager. Most recently, she served as regional vice president for MV Transportation, Inc.

“I knew the Omnitrans team was doing great work and that there are exciting projects on the horizon, such as the West Valley Connector and Arrow,” Erin shares.

As deputy general manager, Erin will serve with CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham and the Senior Leadership Team to set the direction of the organization and ensure that we deliver on the agency’s commitments to the Board of Directors and residents of the San Bernardino Valley.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of the team and making positive contributions to better connect our community.”

Employee of the Quarter John Steffon

What do you do when your department is without a Dispatch Supervisor, Assistant Transportation Manager (ATM), and West Valley Transportation Manager? Well, if you’re John Steffon, you buckle up, postpone your retirement plans, and rise to the occasion. Earlier this month, John, East Valley Transportation Manager, was declared Employee of the Quarter for his contributions to the Operations department while taking on three other positions’ responsibilities.

“Time management was tough,” admits John. “Some of your own work has to take a backseat to what really needs to be done then and there. This was the biggest challenge – trying to keep everything up to date from attendance, to handling all ATM duties, making sure all dispatch supervisor duties were being handled, and covering at West Valley if we needed to handle any disciplinary issues.”

While juggling multiple jobs during this time in addition to his own, John had to work with his team and the agency to increase our part-time driver roster. This was critical in addressing a challenge faced by Omnitrans at the time – drivers having to work overtime on their days off to deliver service to our customers. Their efforts paid off.

“We’ve recently graduated a class of eight new coach operators, and today we have six people testing, with another class joining us in December,” reveals John. “The onboarding of new drivers is really helping to keep service on the road without forcing overtime on our existing coach operators. We are focused on building up our part-time drivers so that overtime goes down and as people retire or leave, we have people ready to fill their positions. It’s been tough, but we need to get service on the road because our passengers are the ultimate customers and they are depending on us.”

Employee of the Quarter John Steffon (second from right) is congratulated by (from the left) CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham, Director of Operations Diane Caldera, and Board of Directors Chair Ron Dailey.

This year, John celebrates his 23rd year at Omnitrans. He has nearly 50 years of transportation experience, having spent almost 25 years at Greyhound in Los Angeles prior to Omnitrans. “Before that, I spent years in the army on boats, planes – all different modes of transportation! I served in 1967 and 1968 after being drafted upon graduating college,” says John, a Vietnam War veteran.

John began his career with Omnitrans as a field supervisor in West Valley. Sunday bus service had just started in 1994, and the agency hired two additional field supervisors, one of which was John. A year later the Transportation Manager position opened, and he was promoted in 1995.

“The most satisfying part of this job is coming to work with a positive attitude and seeing that we’re getting service on the road and helping people. The community needs us, and we need them. Being in the service industry, it’s our duty to provide that service, especially for those who really depend on us to get to work, meetings, doctor’s appointments, or other errands,” says John.

“You learn something new every day. You think you’ve seen all the situations that you possibly can; it’s mind-boggling. What I’m learning is how to keep up with all this new technology in the transit industry and, not to be too funny, but, also learning how to deal with millennials and speaking a little bit of their language,” he laughs.

Outside of work, John likes to dedicate his time to reading, golfing, and going outside on walks. He is also a major football enthusiast, and he is ecstatic that his team, the Rams, is back in Southern California. He proudly shows off his 2016 Omnitrans Fantasy Football League trophy. “The reason I need to walk is because I’m a couch potato when it comes to watching football!” he jokes.

Although John looks forward to retirement early next year, he remains fully committed to our mission of connecting our community. “It’s coming to an end and it’ll be time to move on in a few months. Omnitrans has been very good to me, and I come here every day with a smile on my face.”

Employee of the Quarter, January-March 2017

For Field Supervisor and Employee of the Quarter Tiffany Barnes, persistence is the name of the game. Having started her career with Omnitrans as a Coach Operator 12 years ago, Tiffany has always looked forward to continuing her growth within the agency. She not only wishes for a lucky break to happen, she diligently chases her goals and creates opportunities for herself.

In the first quarter of this year, Tiffany held three different positions in the Operations department, simultaneously: sbX Coach Operator, Relief Field Supervisor, and Relief Dispatch Supervisor. “Tiffany is an operator who has shown perseverance and determination,” says Director of Operations Diane Caldera. “She is utilized in all of her positions, doing very well in each, and is an excellent example of succession planning.”

“I’ve been trying to be a Field Supervisor for five years now,” says Tiffany, who would like to move upward at Omnitrans as far as she feels prepared to go. “I’ve tried and put in maybe four or five applications before becoming Relief Field Supervisor. Around that same time, I got Relief Dispatch Supervisor, so I held three positions at once.”

Tiffany faced a challenge in adjusting to three roles, but was able to take it in stride. “My schedule was all over the place!” she laughs. “That’s the challenge that I’ve faced. Getting the hang of things came naturally and everything fell into place. Everything meshed well together while juggling the three positions, but the irregular schedule was tough at first.”

It may seem like a daunting balancing act, but Tiffany is no stranger to multitasking. The mother of two boys, 5 and 12, decided to become a full-time college student to advance in her career. “I decided I needed to go to school to get a full-time Field Supervisor position. I enrolled and got a bachelor’s degree,” she says. “This July I’ll be going back for a master’s in business administration.”

Employee of the Quarter Tiffany Barnes (second from right) is congratulated by (from the left) CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham, Director of Operations Diane Caldera, and Board of Directors Chair Sam Spagnolo.

In March, while in the capacity of Relief Field Supervisor, Tiffany’s leadership skills had the chance to shine as she and other staff members responded to a customer’s life-threatening emergency at the San Bernardino Transit Center.

While mitigating the situation, Tiffany collaborated with 9-1-1 dispatchers, Omnitrans security officers, and customer service staff at the transit center. As smoothly as possible, she had the facility evacuated, while also coordinating with customer service and Omnitrans dispatch to adjust our transportation operations as necessary during this time.

“As a supervisor, I had to get the facility cleared and locked down. It was a good team effort and we did the best we could in the situation. It was challenging but I felt prepared for it after my training at Omnitrans,” she says.

The situation was new for Tiffany, who was able to remain calm and level headed to figure out the best way to approach the situation and have it handled properly. Prior to Omnitrans, Tiffany had worked in the medical field, which taught her the importance of maintaining composure during an emergency. She also gives kudos to the SBTC customer service staff and security team for their great crisis management skills.

“Customer service and security were awesome! It was a team effort, so I give kudos to them. I had customer service call dispatch to reroute the buses, and they helped to lock down the facility. It was just great synergy and teamwork.”

The day the Omnitrans Board of Directors recognized her as Employee of the Quarter in May also happened to be Tiffany’s first day in her new and sole position of Field Supervisor, the job that for five years she had been striving for. “It’s tough getting turned down, but I never gave up,” she says. “I don’t believe in giving up on myself or my goals. So that’s what I will continue to do.”

Omnitrans has become “home” for Tiffany, so it is no surprise that she is committed to her job. She has a deep respect for her colleagues who she considers like family, and has love and passion for helping the people that we serve. “I love people and believe treating people the way you would want to be treated whether they’re homeless, or different than you. That’s what I live by and teach my children,” she says.

Employee of the Year 2016, Marcos Espinoza

Reliability, expertise, and a friendly demeanor are what make our 2016 Employee of the Year an invaluable asset to the Omnitrans team. Marcos Espinoza, network technician in our Information Technology department, has been a member of the Omnitrans family for less than two years, but has already significantly impacted the agency.

Last year, during a data transfer to a new server, the agency’s onboard bus video surveillance footage was deemed irretrievable due to faulty hardware. The footage is critical to ongoing investigations and claims pertaining to accidents, liability claims, law enforcement assistance, and more.

Marcos, who admits to enjoying “breaking down” electronics and putting them back together, rose to the task after failed attempts by outside vendors to retrieve this footage. He methodically tackled the issue and successfully gained access to the files, recovering all footage. Although this may have unfolded behind-the-scenes, his action saved the agency time, resources, and potential trouble.

Employee of the Year Marcos Espinoza (second from left) is congratulated by (from left) Director of Information Technology Jacob Harms, Board of Directors Chair Sam Spagnolo, and CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham.

“Marcos has demonstrated that he can master nearly any task put in his way, and is self-directed in seeking out new projects to accomplish,” says Director of Information Technology Jacob Harms, lauding Marcos’s high work ethic and self-motivation. “The only challenge in having an employee like Marcos is keeping enough fresh challenges in front of him.”

In addition to resolving issues surrounding wireless problems in our video systems and Citrix network slowness, Marcos has earned a positive reputation among co-workers for his strong ability to resolve issues of any magnitude, treating each Help Desk request with such urgency and importance. We thank him for embodying the spirit of teamwork and his exemplary commitment to the advancement of Omnitrans.