Tag Archives: omnitrans employees

Jeremiah Bryant to Lead New Strategic Development Department

After 12 years of increasing responsibilities at Omnitrans, Jeremiah Bryant has been promoted to Director of Strategic Development at the transit agency.

Functions of the newly-formed Strategic Development Department will include service planning, development planning, stops and stations management, grant writing, and business intelligence analysis to help us better serve riders.

“We believe Jeremiah’s skills and experience will help Omnitrans strategically adapt to a rapidly changing landscape within transit and in the San Bernardino Valley,” said Omnitrans CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham.

“I appreciate the investment Omnitrans places in its employees,” said Jeremiah. “Nearly 12 years ago, I joined Omnitrans and hoped to use my analytical abilities to aid the agency. Over the years, Omnitrans has invested in training, development and provided opportunities for growth.”

Bryant began his career at Omnitrans as a Marketing Analyst in 2007 and was promoted to Planning and Scheduling Manager in 2010.  He has represented Omnitrans on numerous regional committees and served as the Agency’s primary contact with the American Bus Benchmarking Group, a national industry peer group. He recently graduated from the inaugural Omnitrans Leadership Development Academy.

“I look forward to leveraging the investment the agency has made in me by leading the Strategic Development Department as we move to enhance Omnitrans’ service in the future,” said Jeremiah.

Employee of the Quarter Jannet Villaseñor

The daughter of a mechanic, naturally Parts Clerk Jannet Villaseñor grew up in the shop with all things automotive inculcated in her mind since she was 10 years old. So, when Jannet arrived at the Omnitrans West Valley facility parts warehouse only eight months ago, she was ready to take on the challenge of tidying up a place in dire need of reorganization.

“I revised and updated all these catalogs,” Jannet says, proudly pointing at the shelves displaying neatly stacked, color-coded binders with inventory of the agency’s mechanical parts. “If I am not organized, I am not able to work to my fullest potential. I had to make things better for us, to better help everyone in the mechanic shop.”

Jannet performed a thorough deep clean of the tool room, going well above and beyond her job duties to scrub and mop the floors herself. She spearheaded a team effort, employing the knowledge and experience of other clerks, to label, categorize, and rearrange the warehouse to positively impact the efficacy of the parts department.

“We had a gallon-sized bag of O-rings of all types, which is essentially four drawers’ worth of O-rings,” Jannet explains as she displays four methodically organized drawers filled with the gaskets (pictured above). She has taken brown paper bags, cut the top halves off, and placed them in the compartments of each drawer. Each compartment is well-stocked with O-rings sorted by size for quick identification.

“I found these paper bags in a cupboard, so I was able to put them to good use,” she shares. It’s this resourcefulness and willingness to take initiative that has garnered Jannet the Employee of the Quarter award, presented to her at the Omnitrans Board of Directors meeting this month.

Additionally, Jannet has separated and categorized extra parts from rebuild kits so that they could be repurposed and used in other repairs, helping to reduce the cost of buying parts that may already be in our arsenal of tools.

“Before, we had to dig through bags to find a part. If you couldn’t find it in the pile, you had to order it, which created an issue because then we were down buses needed to transport our passengers,” Jannet says of the trickle-down effects of a disorganized warehouse. “Now, things are easier to locate and keep inventory of.”

Board of Directors Chairman Ron Dailey, Materials Manager Rick Barone, Parts Clerk Jannet Villaseñor, her father and Equipment Mechanic Sergio Villaseñor, and CEO/General Manager Scott Graham at the May 1, 2019 Board meeting where Jannet was recognized as Employee of the Quarter for January-March 2019.

“Because of Jannet’s ingenuity, the efficiency of the Procurement-Parts Department has increased, allowing our mechanics to return buses to service quickly and avoiding dropped service. Jannet’s actions are an excellent example of outstanding customer service, communication, and leadership skills,” says Materials Manager Rick Barone.

Jannet has been building those skills since she was 18, when she began her career working for AutoZone. After five years, she became an assistant manager at O’Reilly Auto Parts. Her retail experience has helped shape her as a leader and given her invaluable customer service skills, which she utilizes daily as a parts clerk.

“This morning, a mechanic walked to the counter asking for a part that he needed, and I automatically replied ‘Sure, what type of car are you working on?’ she laughs. “It’s hard to shake off the retail voice sometimes.”

“I would like to thank my peers, Victor, Ray, and Alan, for being open to my suggestions, everyone at the East Valley facility for training me, and my dad for shaping my automotive mind,” says Jannet. “It’s a nice feeling to be able to contribute to the efficiency of our department, but it has not been without the help of a team.”

Employee of the Quarter Vickie Chesney

For Maintenance Shift Supervisor Victoria Chesney (known to co-workers as Vickie) accomplishing tasks successfully is simply “all in a day’s work,” which is why she was surprised to learn that she was Omnitrans’ Employee of the Quarter.

“I did not see that one coming at all,” reveals Vickie. “I’m very grateful and humbled. I’m just here doing my job, doing what I get paid to do.”

Vickie, 19-year member of the Omnitrans family, began her career as a Utility Service Worker, then climbed the ranks to Mechanic Helper, Mechanic, and presently Shift Supervisor. Throughout her various roles, her objective has remained consistent, which is to make pull out (to have available the number of vehicles needed to execute service operations) and have all buses in the yard, with no mechanical difficulties.

“I appreciate our dispatchers, but if I don’t hear from them, that’s a good thing for us,” she jokingly says. However, Vickie’s job doesn’t start and end in the mechanic shop. She is a dedicated asset to Omnitrans who volunteers countless hours, many outside of her normal work duties, to serve on several internal and national committees to advance the agency and industry, including:

  • Omnitrans Bus Roadeo Committee, VIP Chairperson
  • American Public Transportation Association (APTA) International Bus Roadeo Committee
  • Southern California Regional Roadeo, Maintenance Chairperson

“Idle hands are the devil’s hands,” she laughs. Vickie’s leadership on these committees helps ensure each Roadeo event is a well-received success that positions Omnitrans in a favorable light to employees and peer agencies involved.

The Roadeo competition, in which bus drivers and mechanics put their skills and knowledge to the test, is near and dear to Vickie. “When I was a mechanic, I competed in the local Roadeo and we won first place, so we got to compete at the regional and the national Roadeo,” she recalls. “Once I was promoted to supervisor, there was an opportunity to serve on the committee. Our director was kind enough to let me participate and I’ve been involved since.”

A benefit of Vickie’s involvement is the network she has built within the transit industry, which adds value to Omnitrans. “One of the advantages of serving at the national level is that you get to see what other agencies are doing,” she shares.

“You see the commonalities, and because this industry is non-competitive, other agencies are more than willing to share their best practices, successes, and failures with you. It’s a collaborative environment that helps us all succeed to better serve our community at the end of the day.”

From left to right: Maintenance Manager Omar Bryant, Board of Directors Vice Chair David Avila, Maintenance Shift Supervisor Victoria Chesney, CEO/General Manager Scott Graham, and Deputy General Manager Erin Rogers.

Additionally, last quarter, Vickie was chosen to serve and represent Omnitrans as a subject matter expert for the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). ASE is a professional certification group for mechanics and shops within the automotive repair and service industry in the United States and in parts of Canada.

“We have a specialty group within the transit community for all aspects of bus repair,” she explains. “There are eight ASE tests total under the transit bus series, covering every facet of the bus from compressed natural gas engines, brakes, to heating ventilation and air conditioning. We come together at workshops and contribute questions to the test that all mechanics in the country must pass for certification.”

Additionally, Vickie has served as chairperson of the Omnitrans Vehicle Improvement Partnership Committee, an internal committee in which she takes coach operator feedback, from their viewpoint, and implements it on the maintenance side to enhance bus operation and safety of our drivers and passengers alike.

Last quarter, Vickie also collaborated with the Procurement department to develop a paint and body supply contract. “We’ve been working with procurement to get vendors in place to supply our paint and body shop materials,” she says. “By securing vendors under contract, instead of issuing general purchase orders on an as-needed basis, we have more fixed control on receiving supplies in a timely manner, and Omnitrans saves on the cost of materials.”

Vickie’s commitment, accomplishments, and collaborative nature have all led her to this recognition. In typically humble fashion, she states, “I would like to recognize my crew that I work with daily. These are the guys who have their hands on everything and work on the buses, so any success in our department is because of the guys on the floor.”

As for what lies ahead, Vickie looks forward to growing with Omnitrans. At this time, she is working toward a bachelor’s degree, is a member of Omnitrans’ Leadership Development Academy Manager’s track and will be applying for promotional opportunities should they arise.

“I’m very thankful to work in an organization that fosters an environment where we can pursue different opportunities,” she says. “There’s an altruistic component to what we do as a public service. We’re fortunate to be in a position where we help people get to where they need to go, a lot of whom would otherwise not have transportation.”

Employee of the Quarter Nicole Ramos

In a career built on public service, Marketing Manager Nicole Ramos understands and prioritizes our community’s needs, which is why the Board of Directors has recognized her as Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter.

Throughout Nicole’s 18-year career with Omnitrans, our rider’s needs for information and the way that it is delivered and consumed has evolved tremendously, most recently with the advent of social media and smartphones.

Last quarter, Nicole spearheaded a project that closed a gap in our customer communications: the lack of timely rider alert notifications in case of irregular bus detouring while in service. Working with her team and inter-departmentally with Planning, I.T., and Operations, a solution to the age-old problem was reached, at last.

“The rider alerts project had been in the works in some capacity for about three years,” recalls Nicole. “There were a few things we tried, however, there was no effective flow of information that stuck. We had many meetings with Operations and I.T. but could never come up with something that was realistic for everybody that didn’t require a lot more work.”

Determined not to let this task fall by the wayside, Nicole reached out to her network of transit agencies for potential solutions. While at a roundtable discussion with other mid-sized agencies the 2018 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Marketing & Communications Workshop, Nicole posed the question and peer agencies shared success stories of similar rider alert notification systems.

Nicole then determined that publishing alerts to a Twitter account using pre-made alert templates would be the most viable solution for all involved and absolve the agency of additional costs. During this time, the transit operations software used by our Dispatch team in Operations was updated to a new version that allowed detours logged internally to be published to a public-facing Twitter feed. The timing could not have been more perfect to explore this idea.

“The impending software update would allow dispatchers to create notifications almost automatically using the data entered to populate a template published on Twitter. All they had to do was hit a couple of extra buttons in their process. Because of its ease, we got the buy in from dispatch, which was key,” says Nicole.

“Marketing Specialist Jose Hernandez played an integral role in this project. After waiting on necessary system upgrades and fine tuning our alert templates with help from the Planning team to make this as seamless as possible, we were able to begin testing before going live. We certainly appreciate Operations department leadership and Dispatch Supervisor Christina Gaeta for adopting this and pushing the implementation forward.”

It took many months of problem-solving and work behind the scenes, but the rider alerts notification system is now up and running with a Twitter feed that lives embedded on our Alerts webpage. “Although small, this is an important step that brings us back to what we are supposed to be doing as an agency, which is better serving the customer,” says Nicole.

Nicole was one of several women working at Omnitrans to participate in this year’s Classroom to Career Day. During the first portion of the event, local middle school students learned about the transit industry and potential career paths as they toured the San Bernardino Transit Center facility.

Additionally, Nicole played a major role in last fall’s American Bus Benchmarking Group (ABBG) Annual Meeting, during which Omnitrans hosted over 60 peers from the transit industry. Aside from overseeing hotel venue logistics, event photography, and attendee communications, Nicole also leveraged her existing community partnership with the Auto Club Speedway to lower costs associated with hosting an evening social networking mixer for attendees.

“Nicole contributed in many ways to ensure a successful meeting that projected a positive image of Omnitrans to peer agencies,” says Director of Marketing Wendy Williams. “The work Nicole put in exceeded her core responsibilities and required many extra hours outside of her regular schedule.”

As a recent graduate of the Leadership Development Academy, Nicole looks forward to the future, but reflects fondly on her years at Omnitrans.

“It’s been a great experience,” she says. “I get to do what I enjoy doing, but in a way that benefits the community at large. There’s stability and flexibility. Although sometimes you put in many extra hours, you are also encouraged and allowed time to have work-life balance. A lot of people who work here have done so for a long time, and that says something about the agency.”

“I appreciate working with and being able to lead a hard-working and creative team, and hopefully positively impact them as they move through their own careers.”

Employee of the Year Omar Bryant

Effective team leaders go beneath the surface of extensive job knowledge or industry expertise and tap into their innate ability to inspire and motivate, even under unexpected circumstances. This is a special quality that Maintenance Manager Omar Bryant has, helping him earn the title of Omnitrans Employee of the Year for 2018.

“I feel humbled and honored to receive this award,” says Omar. “I just do my best to support my boss and my staff, so the recognition was a bit of a surprise. For those of us in maintenance, the goal is to make pull-out of buses to meet the community’s transit needs every day. There are people out there who rely on us, so that’s what our focus is all about. Some days it’s not so easy, but we all work together as a team to achieve that.”

As the manager overseeing our East Valley maintenance shop of six supervisors and 50 employees, including mechanics and utility service workers, Omar is directly responsible for the reliability and cleanliness of our bus fleet of over 200 buses. It is a large task that requires him to not simply be knowledgeable about every moving part of a 40-foot bus, but also to effectively lead people in a department that works around the clock.

From left to right: Deputy General Manager Erin Rogers, Board of Directors Vice Chair David Avila, Maintenance Manager Omar Bryant, CEO/General Manager Scott Graham, and Director of Maintenance Connie Raya.

In October of 2017, after a sudden tragedy left the Maintenance department without a director, Omar was asked to step in and take over in the interim. He seamlessly assisted the General Manager and Deputy General Manager to keep the department operating smoothly and working toward agency goals and objectives.

“It was a challenging time for Omar and the rest of the department. However, he showed tremendous leadership and was able to keep the team motivated,” says current Director of Maintenance Connie Raya. “He is a great natural leader with a can-do spirit, who stepped up and displayed his loyalty to his team and agency during a difficult time.”

Department operations had to carry on amid these circumstances. One of the agency’s 2018 strategic initiatives called for repower of 63 buses. By repowering our existing compressed natural gas (CNG) buses with near-zero emission engines, Omnitrans has the ability to delay the mandated purchase of electric buses to further strategize purchasing and infrastructure needs before beginning to electrify our fleet.

Omar was responsible for overseeing the repower project – from writing purchasing scopes to order the engines, swapping out transmissions, and finally, installing the new near-zero engines on buses. The transition from one fuel technology to another is not something new for Omar, who started his career with Omnitrans as a Utility Service Worker before promoting upward to his current position. Throughout the years, bus fuel has shifted from diesel, to CNG, bringing us to the present – the early stages of electric battery buses.

“Learning the new technologies has been a positive experience. Although transitioning from a new technology to another has its pains, it’s what we need to do. Our air quality is better than it used to be in the past, so despite the costs and the growing pains, it’s a good thing to do,” he says.

Omar is also one of few employees hand-chosen to participate in the inaugural Manager’s track of the Leadership Development Academy, which develops future leaders as part of Omnitrans’ succession planning efforts. Omar has spent the past year working with his peers and our leadership program consultants to sharpen his managerial skills and broaden his understanding of the organization, preparing him for future upward mobility.

This Employee of the Year recognition has been years in the making. When Omar began his career journey as a 20-year-old recently out of mechanic school, his ambitions lied in working with earth-moving equipment. Nearly 28 years later, he remains committed to Omnitrans and connecting our community.

“When I started, I thought I’d be a mechanic for the rest of my career. I never foresaw that I would be in a leadership position, but the opportunities came, and I went for them. That is what is so great about working at Omnitrans. If you are willing to put in the work, you are trained and supported to grow in your career.”

Omnitrans is proud to commend Omar on an exceptional job well done and earning the Employee of the Year award. We appreciate his extraordinary commitment to the agency and to ensuring that our community has clean, reliable, and safe transportation to connect them from point A to point B.

Omnitrans Hires New Director of Operations Shawn Brophy

Shawn Brophy has joined Omnitrans as Director of Operations, bringing over 25 years of experience in the transit industry.  He fills a vacancy left by his predecessor, Diane Caldera, who retired in September.

Brophy’s career includes time in both the private and public sectors. He was employed by MV Transportation for the last six years, most recently filling the role of Quality Assurance Director at North County Transit District in San Diego County, California.

“We believe Shawn’s strong background, experience and work ethic will bring the leadership skills needed to address the changing demands of our transit system,” said Omnitrans CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham.

At Omnitrans, Brophy will oversee a department of more than 480 employees including over 400 coach operators.  The agency directly operates 30 bus routes which transport over 36,000 passengers on a typical weekday.

“I was attracted to the agency and the direction it is heading in, integrating a multi-modal platform with the forthcoming Arrow rail system,” said Brophy. “Omnitrans is very technologically advanced and is investing in its future. It is a great organization and I am excited about this opportunity.”

Interested in starting a career with Omnitrans? View current job openings online at Omnitrans.org and apply.

Employee of the Quarter Steve Sisneros

When he is not at work, Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Steve Sisneros basks in the serenity, calm, and quiet of the great outdoors. It is quite a contrast from the urban backdrop of his career at Omnitrans, the public transit provider in the dense, populous, and ever-growing San Bernardino Valley.

“Being out of the city, away from large crowds, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells in nature, standing underneath a waterfall is a rejuvenating experience that can’t be duplicated,” explains Steve, who developed an appreciation for nature in his childhood years, often camping and hiking with his father.

Disconnecting from the world recharges him to be his best, and it seems to cascade into excellence at work. Earlier this month, Steve was recognized by the Omnitrans Board of Directors as the Employee of the Quarter for April-June 2018 for his contributions to the safety and training operations of the agency.

“We are a large agency, with over 600 people, and the award is given four times a year. I did the math and thought ‘Hey, this is pretty cool!’ says Steve, who was surprised upon learning of his recognition. “It’s the second time our department receives this award in the past two years, so it’s nice and encouraging to see that our work is respected.”

A couple of years ago, Steve attended a Transit Instructor Networking meeting hosted by Long Beach Transit. He noticed high-tech, interactive whiteboards in their training rooms, which made training a much more enriching experience. Thinking proactively, he shared the idea of bringing this technology to Omnitrans with his supervisors and the purchasing process began shortly thereafter.

After a few months of shopping around, the new interactive whiteboards were installed in our training rooms, as well as in other departments throughout the agency. The whiteboards allow you to project your computer onto the screen on the wall, and users can draw, make notes, and highlight items on the screen with just the tip of their finger, similar to what sports broadcasters do on TV. This provides a more visually-stimulating teaching experience that incorporates technology and eliminates paper waste.

Aside from refining the training process in the classroom, Steve also completed the Department of Motor Vehicles Employer Testing program in Sacramento and became certified as an official DMV examiner for Omnitrans, saving the agency $85 per person in testing fees.

Steve, who did not have bus driving experience prior to joining Omnitrans 16 years ago, enjoys having a direct impact in passing down his knowledge to future generations of Coach Operators. Prior to joining the Fleet Safety & Training team four years ago, he was a Coach Operator Instructor for nine of his 13 years as a driver, responsible for guiding new operators behind the wheel and out in our service area.

“Our job is very hands-on, so during the training process we have to figure out how each person will best retain information. Will they learn visually via videos or through a hands-on approach? Someone can do really well in the classroom, then get behind the wheel and freak out,” says Steve.

“Others, don’t do as well in the classroom, but when they get behind the wheel are complete naturals. We have to observe how they are going to retain the knowledge and adapt a style to each individual person.”

(From left to right) Omnitrans Deputy CEO/General Manager Erin Rogers, Omnitrans Board of Directors Chair Ron Dailey, Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Steve Sisneros, and Omnitrans CEO/General Manager Scott Graham at October’s Board of Directors meeting, where Steve was presented with his Employee of the Quarter award.

Steve’s techniques for effective training include a lot humor and relaying his personal experience as a driver to the trainees. He considers that one the best assets that he brings to the table. Having the experience to back up his words creates trust and credibility between student and instructor. Establishing trust is paramount when many trainees have never driven a 40 foot bus before!

“You have to empower them and let them know that the bus is not going to do anything that you don’t want it to do. Once we can get them past that point, they are able to implement the tools that we have taught them to safely operate the coach,” he says. “When you can relay anecdotes and real stories from your own experience, then it’s just a matter of time before it all falls into place and they gain confidence needed to drive the bus.”

Steve acknowledges that his success would not be possible without the support of his team. He genuinely loves what he does, and looks forward to retiring at Omnitrans when the time comes. To him, the career longevity of many of our drivers’ 25-plus year careers are a testament to the level of satisfaction that this work provides.

“On the days when the going gets tough, realizing that you’re helping that elderly lady get to the grocery store and those kids to get to school is important. Those are motivating factors and a nice reminder of the meaningful work that we’re doing,” says Steve.

Meet the Omnitrans summer interns!

In between pool sessions this summer, these four individuals can be found interning at Omnitrans! We are proud to provide these driven students with an enriching experience that will give them job skills that only can be obtained outside the classroom, setting them up for career success.

Get to know our interns:

Cynthia C., Rail Operations Intern

Cynthia C., Riverside, CA
Rail Operations Intern
Biochemistry major at University of Redlands

So far, what do you enjoy most about working at Omnitrans?
So far, I enjoy how willing to help everyone is. I feel like everyone around me genuinely wants me to succeed, learn, and help me move forward. There is a strong community here at Omnitrans.

What are your career goals?
I plan on staying involved with business administration throughout my career.

How has your internship helped you get closer to achieving those career goals?
This internship is exposing me to the administrative office and the working world on a professional level.

Gabby S., Marketing Communications Intern

Gabby S., Beaumont, CA
Marketing Communications Intern
Communications major with a concentration in Public Relations at California State University, San Bernardino

So far, what do you enjoy most about working at Omnitrans?
I enjoy working alongside the Marketing team: Nicole, Janice, and Jose. Their willingness to teach me new things everyday has made this experience very rewarding. Working at Ominitrans has helped me learn to network and overcome obstacles in the marketing field.

What are your career goals?
My goal is to start as an Event Marketing Specialist and work my way up to a Senior Marketing Manager. I also have plans to attend graduate school and obtain my Master’s Degree in Business Marketing after a few years of work experience.

How has your internship helped you get closer to achieving those career goals?
Interning at Omnitrans has allowed me to get my foot in the door for marketing and has allowed me to network with other organizations/businesses with confidence. This internship has helped me understand communication practices intertwined with marketing and how to properly execute an idea and make it come to life. Daily, I take on new tasks and get the most out of this experience with the quality events and materials being produced here at Omnitrans.

Kathryn L., Transit Planning Intern

Kathryn L., San Bernardino, CA
Transit Planning Intern
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) major at San Bernardino Valley College

So far, what do you enjoy most about working at Omnitrans?
I appreciate working alongside the dedicated professionals in the Planning department. Each of them have taught me something unique to their position and I enjoy learning from them.

What are your career goals?
My goal is to work in planning, specifically transit or city planning.

How has your internship helped you get closer to achieving those career goals?
This internship is allowing me to learn and grow in more ways than I expected. I’m finding new and creative ways to fine-tune my GIS skills with the transit planning tasks given to me which I know will prove beneficial in the future. Thank you, Omnitrans!

Kevin B., Rail Operations Intern

Kevin B., Claremont, CA
Rail Operations Intern
Master’s in Transportation Science at UC Irvine

How has your internship helped you get closer to achieving those career goals?
I enjoy being able to work in the field in which I hope to have a career someday. It’s great to be surrounded by people who share my passion and to absorb the knowledge they share. I’m glad to be able to work on a start-up railroad to see first-hand what goes into such a large project.

What are your career goals?
This fall I’ll be attending UC Irvine for their Transportation Science Master’s program and following that I plan to complete San Jose State’s Transportation Management Master’s program. I hope to have a career within a public transportation agency where I can work to enhance and expand public transit.

How has your internship helped you get closer to achieving those career goals?
My internship is a fantastic way to get my foot in the door in the transportation industry. It’s especially exciting to be working on the Arrow project and being able to see what it takes to start a railroad from scratch. This experience is invaluable to me.

To apply for open internship positions or full/part-time jobs, visit our Careers page.

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.