Tag Archives: omnitrans go smart

Omnitrans helps student athlete’s dream take flight

For second-year Cal State University, San Bernardino student Christiana Campbell, riding Omnitrans is part of her daily routine as she works toward achieving her dream of becoming a United States Air Force officer.

“My end goal is to go into the military just like my dad. I want to go into the Air Force as an officer after completing my degree. Enlisting with a degree under my belt, I would be able to go in as an officer, with higher rank and more pay,” shares Christina.

Currently, Christiana has just over two years left of schooling at CSUSB. In addition to the academic demands of student life, she is also a cross country and track and field collegiate athlete. A determined and ambitious young woman, she commutes to campus Monday through Friday from Moreno Valley.

“I’m a second year student, going into my third this fall. I’m majoring in kinesiology and exercise science, and on top of that, I’m an athlete. I have practice in the morning and class in the afternoon, so, I have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to get to school on time every day,” she shares.

After taking a local route from Moreno Valley, Christiana catches Omnitrans Freeway Express Route 215 at the Downtown Riverside Metrolink station and connects to sbX at the San Bernardino Transit Center to get to CSUSB.

“I enjoy the sbX service. I’ve had good experiences, especially when I learned that I could get on sbX and only have a 15 minute bus ride compared to Route 7. The drivers are really cool, and I give them props because being a bus driver must be really hard. They get me to school safely which I’m thankful for, and I feel safe here [at the San Bernardino Transit Center].”

“I also like that I can just swipe my student ID for rides on Omnitrans, because when I get to Riverside I have to pay.”

Christiana is speaking of the Omnitrans program for CSUSB students, GoSmart, which allows her unlimited rides on our system. “Saving money has been nice! I don’t have to worry about finding and paying for parking at school,” she says.

Christiana plans to get a car in the next few months to save her some commute time as she navigates academics, athletics and explores working part-time. But that doesn’t mean that she’ll be saying goodbye to saving money and gas with Omnitrans!

Christiana was delighted to learn of the ability to park at one of the Park and Ride lots along the sbX corridor, avoid the parking permit cost at CSUSB, and continue to take advantage of her GoSmart privileges to get to school on sbX.

“It took me a while to get used to taking the bus, but a lot of students do it, and it isn’t bad,” says Christiana, who is putting in the effort and overcoming hurdles each and every day to reach her personal finish line. “Omnitrans really is helping me achieve that,” she tells us with a smile before boarding the bus back home.

Passengers like Christina rely on Omnitrans to get to work, school, and other key destinations. We hope you enjoy her story – we’re interested in yours too! E-mail onlinemktg@omnitrans.org to share your story and we may feature you in a future rider profile.

CSUSB Students Head Back To School with Go Smart

The Coyotes are back on campus at Cal State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) this fall for the new school year, and Omnitrans’ Go Smart program continues to make navigating college life easier for students in our service area!

Students at GoSmart schools are entitled to unlimited rides during the school year, with just a simple swipe of their valid student ID card. And they can ride not only on school days, but any day and time of the week! For a complete list of partner schools, click here.

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Rosa, an English major, at the CSUSB sbX station. She is working toward becoming a teacher in her hometown of San Bernardino as a way of giving back to her community.

Rosa, a fifth-year English major at the university, takes advantage of the unlimited rides available to her as a GoSmart student every single day of the week. She has been riding Omnitrans the majority of her time at CSUSB, and it has proven to be a wallet-friendly choice.

“I totally ditched my car and left it at home,” says Rosa, who has a car she could drive to school every day, but has found that riding Omnitrans is the more convenient, money-saving option for her. “I don’t have to pay for a parking pass, which is really expensive.”

Rosa began riding our fixed-route system, but when sbX  rapid transit service was introduced , she has not only continued to save money, but also time since the bus makes fewer stops. “Now that there is sbX, which is faster, I don’t have to wait to get home,” Rosa shares. “It has cut my [commute] time by more than half.”

Similarly, chemistry major Joseph Barrera relies on Omnitrans for transportation to school every weekday.

“This is how I get here from Redlands every day,” says Joseph of Go Smart. “It’s pretty good!”

Riding Omnitrans from downtown Redlands, Joseph connects to the sbX Green Line at the San Bernardino Transit Center daily as he completes his third year of schooling. Joseph is not alone – many of his peers also utilize public transportation as they work toward achieving their academic goals.

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Go Smart students boarding Route 2 at CSUSB.

“Omnitrans’ four routes with direct service to CSUSB are essential to student success,” says Thomas W. Gaffery, director of parking & transportation at CSUSB. “The GoSmart program allows our students to save money on gas and a parking permit, as well as enhancing CSUSB’s commitment to sustainability.”

Saving time and money while decreasing your carbon footprint – Go Smart is definitely the convenient way to go! To plan your trip, check out our route and schedule information online.

Go Smart summer update

Have questions about who is eligible for Go Smart during the summer? Here’s the scoop:

Chaffey, Crafton Hills  &
San Bernardino Valley Colleges 

If you are a student who was enrolled during the prior spring semester at Chaffey College, Crafton Hills College or San Bernardino Valley College, you can continue to receive unlimited rides with your student ID through July. Your Go Smart transportation fee was covered in your spring student fees.

If you are a summer student NOT enrolled in the prior spring semester at one of the above colleges, you are NOT eligible for unlimited rides through Go Smart.  Summer student fees do not include the Go Smart transportation fee.

Cal State San Bernardino

Cal State students are covered for the summer quarter and, thanks to financial support from Associated Students Inc., the Go Smart program will continue in 2014-15!

Art Institute of California – Inland Empire

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire is year round; students currently enrolled who also have a Go Smart pass ID can ride free.

Students at the charter schools below are covered through the end of their spring semester, NOT during the summer break.  

  • Academy of the Inland Empire
  • Alternative Learning Center/Destination Diploma
  • ASA Charter School
  • Youthbuild

Go Smart students at San Bernardino Valley College

My public transit journey: bus rider to travel trainer

A guest post by VTrans travel trainer Marcus Garcia

Marcus Garcia shows a VTrans client how to find schedule information using a bus book

What did you do to learn how to ride the bus?

Now having multiple years of riding experience under my belt, I am always interested in the responses from other Omnitrans riders who I have been able to get to know. Some were fortunate in that they were able to learn how to ride the bus from family members or close friends, while others transitioned at their own pace from other transportation modes like walking, biking, or driving. And the final group, which includes myself, seemed to have suddenly found themselves in need of transportation, and without driving as an option, had to quickly switch to using public transit as their new way of getting around town.

My journey with public transit began in 2011, where the engine of my 1997 Nissan Sentra finally quit on me, and the repair cost more than the worth of the car. At the time I was both working and living with family in the same Orange County city, so it wasn’t too difficult to get to work without a car. My problem was that although I was alright in terms of transportation to work, I preferred getting out and about over spending days off from work sitting inside the house. It just took four days after the failure of my Sentra’s engine for me to board an OCTA (Orange County Transportation Authority) bus for the first time.

The only knowledge which was of any help when it came to learning the bus schedules was the fact that I knew most of the major streets in the county, and that I knew where north, south, east, and west were. Through investigating the bus book, as well as some trial-and-error trips (with plenty of errors), I was slowly able to memorize the different OCTA routes. By the end of summer 2011, the longest single day trip I took using fixed-route OCTA buses came out to a total of 120 bus miles.

Even after getting another car and moving back to the Inland Empire, my interest in taking advantage of public transit continued, and hence began my travels with Omnitrans. The price of gas was fluctuating wildly at the time, and the maintenance costs for my car began, with a few hundred dollars here and another major repair there. Unlike driving, all that was required was a flat rate 31-day pass and I would be able to have unlimited rides throughout the entire Omnitrans system. Just as I had done in Orange County, I spent a number of days riding throughout the valley in order to learn all of the Omnitrans routes. Participating in the GoSmart College ID pilot program while attending Chaffey College further prompted my interest in using public transit as much as possible, as I no longer even had to worry about purchasing a 31-day pass. It was not unusual for my monthly ridership to total between 1,000 and 1,500 miles, as I lived in Chino Hills and traveled to Rancho Cucamonga at least five days per week.

When I had mastered the Omnitrans system and developed a full appreciation for the benefits of public transit, I began looking for ways to discuss public transit and related issues with other riders and enthusiasts. This is what initially motivated me to join the conversations on the Omnitrans Facebook page, as well as the Facebook pages of the other major transit agencies in Southern California. Submitting comments, driver compliments, and route suggestions through the online contact form was how I provided input to Omnitrans about my experiences as a regular rider of their system.

VTrans helps seniors and those with disabilities learn bus riding basics through personal hands-on training.

In April of this year, I took my interest in promoting the benefits of public transit to the next level, and became a Travel Trainer with Valley Transportation Services (VTrans). VTrans is one of Omnitrans’ partner agencies that works to coordinate transportation options for various target populations, such as seniors and people with disabilities. The VTrans Travel Training program seeks to open the door for greater independence and freedom to these two groups by teaching them how to ride Omnitrans fixed-route buses independently. For participants that have never ridden the bus before, trainers cover all of the basics like paying fare, etiquette while onboard, using the bus book, interacting with coach operators, and getting directions or other information using the Omnitrans website or customer service hotline. Trainers can also help people who have some experience already by helping them learn unfamiliar routes or with complex tasks like planning a trip with multiple transfers or over a long distance.

One of the most common concerns which I have come across as a Trainer is that participants have feared trying to use the bus in the past because they are too overwhelmed by the maps and timetables, and worried about getting lost at transit centers. Because I had to learn how to navigate through OCTA and Omnitrans transit centers all on my own, I can understand the frustration that these participants might feel. Travel Trainers are able to break down the process of concepts like transit centers to make them easier for participants to navigate. I have also been able to come up with creative solutions to assist clients with difficulty remembering information or even reading and writing, so that they too could be successful new riders.

It is a great privilege to be part of the VTrans Travel Training Team, and to be able to impact the lives of others through a transportation mode which has been so beneficial for myself. It is amazing to see how young adults around my age are thriving with a new sense of freedom, as upon completion of training they are able for the first time to visit their friends, go shopping, or catch a movie completely on their own. Senior participants who may not be able drive themselves any longer are embracing Omnitrans service as a path to visiting friends, family, and continuing to engage in the activities they love. Omnitrans fixed route service has the potential to improve the lives of many in the San Bernardino Valley, and I am glad to be able to lead participants to that door of opportunity.

– Marcus Garcia
www.vtrans.us.com

To find out more about the VTrans Travel Training program or to sign up, please call the VTrans Main Office at 909-981-5099 during normal business hours. There is absolutely no cost to those who participate in the training program. 

Marcus served as a judge at the Omnitrans 2013 Bus Roadeo, a skills-based coach operator competition – photo by Janice Kuhn

Student vet pursues his dreams

Jonathan Price joined the Army at 18 after he lost his job at Macys. He worked as a unit supply specialist for three years. When he was released from service in 2010 and transitioned back to civilian life, he was unprepared for the changes that had taken place.

“When you’re in the military, you’re living in a sort of protected bubble, separate from the rest of the world,” said Jonathan. “You receive your paycheck like clockwork every other week, and your expenses never really change. And you don’t have to worry about rent or a car or anything like that. You’re pretty insulated. I had always assumed that when I got out there would be lots of opportunities for vets, but it wasn’t like that at all. There was a recession going on and it was extremely hard to find work. That was a huge eye-opener.”

He began looking into 4-year colleges but found them to be too expensive to fit his budget. Then he found San Bernardino Valley Community College, which he felt would give him a good basic foundation of classes to build on. The Go Smart Program was additional bonus. As a student enrollee, he would be eligible for unlimited rides on Omnitrans for a per-semester fee of less than $10.

“Go Smart definitely has had a tremendous impact on my life. The $10 fee is nothing compared to what I would have had to pay monthly. It saves me a lot of money. Now I can just swipe my student I.D. and take the bus to school, to my job at the Family Dollar store and anywhere else I need to go. It’s great because I’m not comfortable carrying cash around.”

Jonathan has now been taking classes Valley College for the past 1 ½ years. He’s found that his military training has helped him stay focused.

“You learn in the military to adapt to unexpected changes and not to take things personally. If I have to switch my schedule for some reason or can’t get a class I had planned on, I just take it in stride. I never worry about liking or not liking an instructor. I don’t harbor those kinds of emotions. My focus is simply to get it done and get out.”

Jonathan has also started a new hobby—growing plants. “It really surprised my girlfriend,” he laughs. “But I enjoy it and find it relaxing. I really want to start a garden.”

His long-term goal is to make a difference in his community. He eventually hopes to work in communications and public relations, helping those who couldn’t normally afford those services.

“My dream is to one day own and operate my own PR firm,” said Jonathan. “I’d really like to help small businesses get their name out there without robbing them. PR agencies are generally very expensive, and geared towards larger companies. I want to be able to work with small businesses and help them succeed in the marketplace.”

– 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!

 

Savvy Mom Goes Smart

Erica Clendenen and her oldest son Isaiah

Pursuing a college degree as a 43-year-old divorced mom of three on a tight budget can be challenging—especially when you don’t drive.

But that’s not stopping Omnitrans rider Erica Clendenen, who is currently working on her associates degree at San Bernardino Valley College and plans to pursue her bachelors in social work at Cal State University, San Bernardino. Although she tries to take her courses online whenever possible to keep costs down, several of them require live classroom training.  Thanks to the Go Smart program, she can easily get to her classes—and anywhere else she needs to go—by riding the bus for free with just her student ID.

Chelsea Clendenen grabs a quick bite at the bus stop

“I couldn’t do this without Go Smart,” admits Erica frankly. “I have three children ages 8, 10 and 15, so getting around can be very expensive for us as a family.  Having my own bus fare covered by the program helps us tremendously.”

Erica’s kids have been riding Omnitrans for so many years that they know all the stops and routes by heart. Her youngest loves the bus and enjoys saying hello to the drivers. Erica herself is a technology buff and a huge fan of NexTrip.

“I’m obsessed with the NexTrip app!” she laughs. “I’m on it more than games or anything else on my cell phone. Before, I was always missing the bus. Now I set alerts to notify me two minutes in advance of when the bus is arriving.  I love it! I’m pretty impatient and don’t like sitting at the stop. With NexTrip, I can do some shopping at the grocery store instead of just waiting around.”

Like many Omnitrans riders, Erica has a heightened sense of community and a strong desire to make a difference.

Elijah Clendenen waits for the bus

“My goal is to work with troubled teens when they first get into the court system—to help them turn their lives around. It’s so easy for kids to get involved with gangs and drugs and guns. I’m thankful that my 15-year-old is a homebody. He’s an honors student and would rather be at home playing his video games than out on the street. But some of his friends have been in trouble, and it’s really hard. We’re losing too many young men to the street. They need someone to believe in them. They need to know that even though your neighborhood or living situation might not be great, you can choose to go forward and make a better life. It’s all about making good choices.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Clean Air Award for Omnitrans Go Smart Program

Accepting the Clean Air Award, from left, is Omnitrans Interim CEO/General Manager Scott Graham, Board Chair and Ontario Councilmember Alan Wapner, and Director of Marketing Wendy Williams.

(San Bernardino, CA)— A pilot program that more than doubled the number of local college students using public transit and eliminated an estimated 129 tons of pollution earned Omnitrans a Clean Air Award from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, presented on October 4, 2013.

In 2011-12, Omnitrans initiated the “Go Smart” pilot program dedicated to transitioning local college students in the San Bernardino Valley to using public transit rather than driving to get to campus. Omnitrans partnered with California State University-San Bernardino, Chaffey College, Crafton Hills College, and San Bernardino Valley College to offer free, unlimited bus rides to over 50,000 college students. Approximately 1,450,000 trips were made by over 13,500 individual students in pilot year.

Students had unlimited access to the Omnitrans bus system with a simple swipe of their college ID card. During a typical week, 5,100 unique students rode Omnitrans which means that over 10% of students became regular transit riders, up from 4% prior to the program. Over 25% of enrolled students tried the program at least once.  Subsequently, ongoing self-funded Go Smart programs were established at each of the pilot program colleges and student ridership continues to increase over a year later.

“Go Smart helps reduce transportation costs for students and removes lack of transportation as a barrier to education for some,” said Interim CEO/General Manager Scott Graham.  “Gaining familiarity with public transit while a student also makes them more likely to use and support public bus service in the future,”

During the pilot year Go Smart student logged 8.7 million cumulative miles! By taking public transportation instead of driving, this removed an estimated 129.2 tons of carbon monoxide from the air while also reducing the levels of reactive organic gases, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter. Side benefits included reduced traffic congestion near the partner colleges and reduced parking demand on campus and in surrounding neighborhoods.

“Each year, we honor businesses and individuals who work unrelentingly to improve the quality of the air,” said SCAQMD Governing Board Chairman William A. Burke, Ed.D. “These inspiring winners have set an example of commitment and determination for all of us.”

The pilot program was funded by partner colleges and each of the 15 cities and county in the Omnitrans service area, using monies earmarked for emission reduction projects.