Tag Archives: omnitrans go smart

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.

Cal State Students Get Free Ride to College

Omnitrans Go Smart Program Returns to CSUSB for 2013-14

San Bernardino, CA – Students at California State University, San Bernardino can get a free ride to college thanks to the Go Smart program that offers them unlimited rides just by swiping their college IDs on Omnitrans’ buses.  Beginning Wednesday, September 11, students enrolled for the fall quarter can climb aboard any Omnitrans bus route for free.

The campus currently is served by four Omnitrans bus routes, 2, 5, 7, 11.  Coming in April 2014, the new sbX bus rapid transit line will provide frequent weekday service to the CSUSB station located at the University’s main entrance. 

“We are proud to be partnering with Omnitrans on the sbX line to bring rapid transit service to our campus,” said Bob Gardner, CSUSB vice president of administration and finance. “When the San Bernardino Transit Center project is completed in 2015, the direct connection between sbX and Metrolink will greatly expand commuting options for our students.”

The new Omnitrans sbX BRT station at Cal State University San Bernardino

CSUSB participated in the Go Smart pilot program in 2011-12.  During that year, over 194,000 bus trips were tallied by more than 3,000 students who used the program, which represented about 17 percent of enrollment.   But funding challenges kept the University from continuing Go Smart the following year.

“The Associated Students Inc. are partially responsible for bringing the Go Smart program back to CSUSB students again this year,” Gardner said. “We’re thankful for ASI’s funding support and valuable partnership with Omnitrans and the university.”

“We applaud ASI and the Administration at CSUSB for supporting a program that saves students money and saves our environment,” said Omnitrans Director of Marketing Wendy Williams. “Just one student riding one day on transit instead of driving eliminates 20 lbs. of carbon emissions.  Plus, students can expect to save over $2,800 per year in auto, fuel, and parking expenses by switching to transit.”

Students can use their college ID card to ride Omnitrans at any time on any route, not just trips to and from campus.  ID cards are swiped in the fare box on board buses which allows the agency to capture usage data by school, by route and even individual ID.

Without Go Smart college students would have to pay $1.50 per trip or $4.00 for a one-day pass to ride the bus; 7-day passes are $15 and 31-day passes are $47.

Other area colleges participating in the Omnitrans Go Smart program include Art Institute of California – Inland Empire, Chaffey College, Crafton Hills College, and San Bernardino Valley College. During the 2012-13 academic year, students at these partner schools took over 1.4 million bus trips.

Omnitrans offers personalized trip planning at 1-800-9-OMNIBUS or online at www.omnitrans.org.  Information about the sbX project is available at: www.omnitrans-sbx.org.

Go Smart, Chaffey College open doors for student

For Rialto resident Eddie Garcia, Omnitrans is all about opportunity. The bus has played a big role in his life and has opened the door to many new experiences.

“I’m Hispanic and come from a typical big Mexican family. There are ten of us living together, my parents, four sisters, three brothers and myself. Me, my mom and a few of my siblings are working right now, and we all help support each other.”

The 19-year-old student recently earned his medical assistant certificate and is interested in continuing his studies to become an RN. Currently he works part time at 7-Eleven and attends part-time classes at Chaffey College.

“One of the things I like about riding the bus is that it breaks down a lot of barriers. No one is better or worse than anyone else–everybody is equal. Because of that, I’ve gotten to know a lot of other students I might not have normally interacted with. Most of my friends are Hispanic, because that’s the community I grew up in. Riding Omnitrans, I had the chance to have conversations with other students from different cultures and really get to know them.  Sometimes we’d end up being a class together the following semester, and it was great to have that connection.”

Eddie Garcia (far right) and his family

As a Chaffey student, Eddie is able to take advantage of the Go Smart program. With Go Smart, students and/or schools pay a per student transportation fee to Omnitrans that allows them unlimited free rides with their student ID.

“Money and lack of a car were always the big obstacles that kept many of my friends from pursuing a college education,” said Eddie. “With Omnitrans and Chaffey supporting something like the Go Smart program, it motivates them to go to school. It gives them an opportunity they wouldn’t normally have.”

“I started at Chaffey right out of high school. Unlike some of the other community colleges I talked to, they took the time to help make the registration process easy and a lot less complicated. There was no long waiting list and their classes fit my schedule. And Go Smart made it affordable. To get from my home in Rialto to school in Rancho Cucamonga meant taking three buses.  I never would have been able to keep up with the fare costs. But because Go Smart let me ride for free with my student ID, that obstacle was gone. It made it possible for me to go to college.”

Although Eddie got a car about a month ago, he says his family still frequently uses the bus. Two of his sisters often take Omnitrans to get to  the charter school they attend in Fontana. “The bus still helps us save time and money. And I like knowing it’s there as a backup in case I need it.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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Go Smart website for Chaffey College students

Good news for Chaffey College students who are taking advantage of the Go Smart College Pass program!

Chaffey’s Admissions & Records Department has established an online resource to field any questions or concerns you may have regarding Go Smart. Although the college has no specific person or telephone line dedicated to the program, the web page does provide a contact email and an online problem report form to help resolve any issues that might arise. Emails and problem reports are monitored daily.

You can visit the Chaffey College Go Smart page at:
http://www.chaffey.edu/gosmart/index.shtml

About GoSmart
With the Go Smart program, students at participating colleges pay a $7.50 transportation fee as part of their college fees at the beginning of each semester which allows them to ride the bus for free with their student ID throughout the year.

Go Smart helps Khiem pursue his education

Khiem Pham has been an Omnitrans rider for three years. He is a student at Chaffey College where he studies computer science and Cisco networking. Khiem also runs his own Amway business in addition to working part-time as a waiter. He relies on the bus to take him wherever he needs to go.

As a Chaffey College student, Khiem is able to participate in the Go Smart Collage Pass program which allows him unlimited rides on any Omnitrans fixed route service with his student ID. He says the program saves him a huge amount of money each semester. Since he pays for his education entirely on his own, keeping to a tight budget is critical. Even if he gets a car eventually, Khiem says he will continue to use the bus as much as possible just to save on gas.

“I really appreciate Omnitrans–especially the Go Smart program. It helps a lot of students like me who struggle when the government keeps increasing tuition fees every year.”

About GoSmart
With the Go Smart program, students at participating colleges pay a $7.50 transportation fee as part of their college fees at the beginning of each semester. This allows them to ride any Omnitrans fixed route service for free with their student ID throughout the year.

Omnitrans carries over 16 million riders

Omnitrans added a million riders in 2011-12 compared to the prior year, surpassing the 16 million mark for the first time since 2004. On an average weekday, the transit agency’s buses carried over 52,000 passengers, a 7.7% increase from fiscal year 2011.

“Transit ridership is growing across the country,” said CEO/General Manager Milo Victoria, “but Omnitrans is ahead of the trend. Nationally, ridership was up about 5% for the first quarter of calendar year 2012, while Omnitrans grew 8%.”

A key growth factor is the “Go Smart” college program that provides unlimited bus rides to students at participating colleges. A one-year pilot program generated over 1.4 million trips from students at California State University San Bernardino, Chaffey College, Crafton Hills College and Valley College. Over 25 percent of enrolled students hopped on board. The pilot program was funded by 15 local cities, the County, partner colleges and Omnitrans. This spring students at Chaffey, Crafton Hills and Valley Colleges approved student fees to continue the program for five years. CSUSB is hoping to fund another year of the pilot program. The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire joined the program in May.

The growth comes at a time when the transit agency has implemented only modest enhancements after service cuts were implemented in 2010 due to budget shortfalls. While ridership increased 7.4% on average among all routes and services, some led the way. OmniGo community shuttle routes continue to capture new riders, achieving a 34% upsurge year over year. Introduced in September 2010, OmniGo serves the cities of Chino Hills, Grand Terrace and Yucaipa using smaller 16-passenger vehicles more suited to these residential areas than traditional transit buses.

Express Route 215, which travels the 215 freeway corridor to connect San Bernardino and Riverside posted a 17% gain. “This bodes well for our sbX bus rapid transit line under construction,” said Director of Marketing Wendy Williams. “Commuters are looking for low cost alternatives that are time competitive with driving.”

While high gas prices are likely contributors to rising transit ridership, national studies also show that younger Americans are driving less. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group found that between 2001 and 2009 the average annual vehicle miles traveled by Americans ages 16 to 34 fell by close to a quarter, from 10,300 to 7,900 per capita. At the same time, the amount of bicycling, walking, and public transit ridership increased.

Omnitrans rider dreams of teaching high risk kids

Almost eight years ago, Chanel Mason was diagnosed with a medical condition that made it impossible for her to drive. Since then she has relied on Omnitrans for all her travel needs, from picking up groceries to going to school. Riding the bus allows Chanel to maintain her independence and gives her the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of being a teacher.

“Education has always been important to me. When I was in 12th grade, I was scoring 100% on all my work. I went to my teacher because I was worried. How would I know if I was actually learning and improving? The teacher told me to just be happy that I scored 100%,” Chanel laughed. “I don’t think that way. I always want to be growing and learning new things.”

Her goal is to eventually teach first grade because she loves the curiosity and personality of that age group. “I really want to work with high risk kids,” said Chanel. “I grew up poor and I understand the kinds of challenges they have to deal with. I think I’m someone they could relate to and that I could make a difference in their lives.”

As a Cal State University of San Bernardino (CSUSB) student, finances are still an important issue for Chanel and she does what she can to stretch her resources. Over the past year she was able to take advantage of the Go Smart college pass program, which allows students at participating colleges to ride Omnitrans for free with their student ID. “Go Smart was a huge help,” said Chanel. “Instead of paying for bus fares, I was able to use that money for textbooks I needed. There are a lot of us at Cal State who really relied on that program and it’s going to be hard for us when it ends this month.”

The funding for the Go Smart program ends June 30th. Students at other participating colleges have opted to continue the program by voting yes on a referendum that would add a $7.50 transportation fee to their college fees each semester. CSUSB chose not to hold a student referendum at this time.

This week, Chanel was very excited to discover she was the winner of the Omnitrans Dump the Pump photo contest on Facebook. Her prize was a free 31-Day Bus Pass that she plans on using for school this fall. “Every little bit helps,” she said. “Without Omnitrans I would be in a lot of trouble.”

_______________________________________________

If you want to see the Go Smart program continue at CSUSB for the 2012-13 school year, please make your voice heard. Tell them why this program is important to you and other students.

Contacts:

Commuter Services
909-537-7433
Email: Rideshare@csusb.edu
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CSUSB

ASI Associated Students Inc.
909-537-5932 or 909-537-5930
Email: asi-pres@csusb.edu
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/asi.csusb

– 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