Tag Archives: omnitrans nextrip real time bus arrival

Bus stop worker helps riders get tech savvy

Recently many of our early morning passengers have received unexpected assistance from a friendly man in orange. Stops & Stations worker, John Martinez, is a huge fan of our new NexTrip real time bus arrival prediction system and has helped several of our senior riders utilize the new technology.

“A lot of them are surprised to see me pull up and start talking to them about NexTrip,” admits John chuckling. “Sometimes I’ll see someone waiting at a stop early in the morning, and I know that that route doesn’t even begin for another hour. I can’t just leave them standing there without doing something. So I pull over the truck and let them know. Since I always have my cell with me, I take the time to show them the NextTrip app and how simple it is to use.”

Because many seniors have regular cellphones as opposed to smart devices, he works with them on how to use the voice or text feature. “I program the number into their contacts list to make it easy for them to pull up when they need it. Then all they have to do is enter the stop number to have bus arrival info sent to their phone. Then I sit with them so they can practice a few times to get their confidence up. Once they try it, they really like it.”

“One of the passengers I meet on the Route 19 commutes every day from Cal State University to the heart surgery center on Barton Road where she works. She didn’t have a smart phone, but she got so excited by NexTrip that she went out and purchased one from Virgin Mobile for $30 a month—just so she could use the NextTrip app,” he shakes his head and smiles. “She’s a terrific lady and is really looking forward to riding the sbX rapid transit when service starts next year.”

John says he uses NexTrip religiously every day to track bus movements along the routes. “When I’m servicing stops, I try to bounce in between buses so I’m out of the way. It helps when I can see where buses currently are on a live map so I can work around them.”

John is part of the early squad. His workday starts at 4:00 a.m. and ends around 12:30. Afterwards he has just enough time to shower, eat and get in a quick nap before coaching. “I have fun with it, and it keeps me out of my wife’s hair,” he laughs. “Right now, I’m coaching high school football from about 3:00-5:30 and then Pop Warner football from 6:00-8:30. I stay pretty busy, but I’m used to it.”

A former production foreman and Marine Corps training instructor, John enjoys working for Omnitrans and plans to stay here until he retires. “I prefer being outdoors, I like the hours and it gives me the chance to get to know our passengers. Everyone has a different story to tell.”

“I see a lot of people out here at the stops at 4:00 a.m. waiting for buses. If we didn’t run that early, they would probably be unemployed. It really makes you aware of how important the bus system is and the impact it has on people.”

More and more passengers are turning to NexTrip to get live bus arrival information and alerts on disruptions to their routes. To learn more about NexTrip and try it for yourself, visit us online at http://www.omnitrans.org/nextrip.

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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How to set up route alerts in NexTrip

Did you know that you can set up NexTrip to notify you by text message or email about service disruptions, outages or anything that affects your route? Below is a step-by-step tutorial to guide you through the process. Click on any of the screenshots below to view full size.

From the Omnitrans website at www.omnitrans.org, click the click here link under NexTrip in the right hand column.

 

A window will open to the NexTrip welcome page.

In the right hand column under NexTrip, click the NexTrip Alerts link.

A window will open to the NextBus Automatic Alerts page, prompting you to log in. 

If this is your first time visiting the NextBus site, you will need to create a new login. 

Complete the form then click Create a new login.

A window will open to the NextBus Automatic Alerts welcome page.

The page outlines the three types of alerts you can set with Next Bus:

  • Immediate Alerts
  • Scheduled Alerts
  • Watch Route Alerts

Because you want to receive alerts on service disruptions to your routes, you will focus on Watch Route Alerts.

Click Add New Watch Route Alert to create your alert.

A window will open where you can select your preferred notification method and the route for which you would like to receive alerts. 

IMPORTANT:

  • If you prefer to receive alerts by EMAIL, click here.
  • If you prefer to receive alerts by TEXT MESSAGE, click here.


TO RECEIVE ALERTS BY EMAIL

From the Automatic Alerts page, click the Email button under Channel options to receive alerts by email.

Under Region, select California-Southern from the drop down menu.

Under Agency, select Omnitrans from the drop down menu.

Under Route, select the route for which you want to receive alert notifications.  (If you want to receive alerts for more than one route, you will need to create separate alerts for each one.)

Click the Add Route button.

A window will open, returning you to the Automatic Alerts page.

The alert you have created will now be listed in the Watch Route Alerts section.

If at any time you no longer wish to receive an alert, simply click the delete option next to the alert.

Once you have added an alert, you will be notified whenever a service disruption takes effect. Below is an example of an email alert notification received through NextBus.


TO RECEIVE ALERTS BY TEXT MESSAGE

From the Automatic Alerts page, click Setup SMS under Channel options. (Note that you will not be able to select the SMS option until you setup your SMS for the first time.)

The Automatic Alerts phone verification window will open. 

Enter your mobile phone number, including area code, into the box and click Submit.

A second Automatic Alerts phone verification page will open, this time featuring your SMS shortcode. The shortcode is the line of bold text beginning with “nbus reg” (see circled area below.)

 

From your mobile phone, send the shortcode as a text message to phone number 41411. Your carrier’s standard messaging rates will apply.

Note that if this is your first time texting to NextBus, additional verification messages may appear.

The verification reminds you that although NextBus does not charge you for messaging, your standard carrier messaging rates will still apply. See sample below

Messaging would like to send a message to 41411.
This may cause charges on your mobile account.
____   Remember my choice.
Never Allow      Always Allow

Check the box next to Remember my choice, then click Always Allow.

From your computer or smart device, return to the Automatic Alert page at http://www.nextbus.com/myNextBus/addRoute.shtml

You will now be able to click the SMS button under Channel.

Under Region, select California-Southern from the drop down menu.

Under Agency, select Omnitrans from the drop down menu.

Under Route, select the route for which you want to receive alert notifications.  (If you want to receive alerts for more than one route, you will need to create separate alerts for each one.)

Click the Add Route button.

The Automatic Alerts welcome page will open.

The route alert that you created will now appear under Watch Route Alert.

A text message will automatically be sent your mobile phone whenever there is a disruption of service on that route.

Should you no longer wish to receive alert notifications for a route, simply click delete next to the route you would like to remove.

 

Reading, riding & reaching out to others

“Omnitrans is the center of my universe,” says Liz Neal. The 46-year-old San Bernardino retiree has a history of seizures which prevents her from driving. But she doesn’t let that hold her back from enjoying the things she loves. She relies on Routes 2, 5 and 15 to get her where she needs to go.

An active member of her church, Ecclesia Christian Fellowship, Liz’s days are filled with Praise Dance practice, choir rehearsals, Bible study, community service and spiritual counseling.  She hopes to one day return to Bible College to obtain a ministry degree. Liz is also an avid reader, preferring true crime, biographies and computer books, and is a frequent visitor at the local library. She always has a book on her, and finds the 45 minute commute between home and church to be a great time to relax and read.

“I like that the buses are neat and clean–and air conditioned. Always great on those hot days!  I know I can get where I need to go on time, and the bus drivers are all very nice. Whenever I’ve had questions or needed directions, they’ve always been very helpful and informative.”

Because she rides every day, Liz purchases 31-Day disability bus passes in order to save more money. And she’s a huge fan of the new NexTrip bus arrival prediction technology.

“It’s been heaven. Whoever came up with that–I just want to hug them!” she laughs. “I trust it and love it and can’t imagine life without it now. Before I used to have to phone the call center every day or check the bus book to get information to plan my trip.  Now I have the NexTrip app downloaded to my smartphone, and it’s always right on the money. If it says the bus is arriving now, I can look up and actually see it coming down the street!”

Liz says NexTrip also gives her the opportunity to talk to people and help them. “It never fails. Whenever I’m at a bus stop, someone always comes along to ask how long I’ve been waiting and do I know when the next bus is coming.  I just pull out my phone and show them. It’s so much easier than looking at the map at the bus stop or at the bus book. It’s that important.”

–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!

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Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Q & A with a Planner

Planning project manager Anna Rahtz recently received the Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter award. Anna managed the Omnitrans Transit Design Guidelines project, which has earned the Focused Issue Planning Award from the American Planning Association – Inland Empire Section. We recently caught up with her to ask her a few questions about the guidelines, upcoming projects and her personal use of public transit.

Can you talk a little bit about what was involved with the transit design guidelines?

“The Omnitrans Transit Design Guidelines was the brainchild of our planning director, Rohan Kuruppu, and I worked on it as the project manager. It is basically a combination of our Bus Stop Design Guidelines document as well as a ‘lessons learned’ guide based on our experience with the sbX corridor in San Bernardino and Loma Linda. We always get lots of questions when the cities are trying to plan their future corridors or put in bus stops. They want to know how much space is needed, how long is the bus stop, how wide is the sidewalk, what are the ADA requirements. We also get lots of questions about the bus rapid transit (BRT) stations–how much space does it take up and how do you fit it into the street cross section?

Our consultants, Parsons Gruen, and MIG, took everything they had learned from working on the sbX project and compiled it into a toolkit. Now when designers, consultants, developers, city staff or others have questions about how to make these things work, they can refer to this toolkit for answers. City staff has already made a lot of use of it because cities like Highland, Ontario, and Fontana are doing their own BRT studies now. They’ve been able to integrate it into what they’re planning instead of reinventing the wheel.

Right now the Omnitrans Transit Design Guidelines is a PDF document, but we’re working on setting it up as an online interactive tool as well.”

What do you like best about being a planning project manager?

“I actually think I enjoy the smaller projects the most because they are more tangible and can be completed in a faster time frame. Recently I worked with several cities and our planning interns Allison and Alvaro to complete a grant application for SANBAG funds to improve pedestrian access to bus stops, including replacing and constructing new sidewalks.  Improving pedestrian infrastructure is extremely important.

Anna Rahtz and Omnitrans Planning Director Rohan Kuruppu

Can you tell us a little about any major upcoming projects?

“One of the main projects we will be kicking off in the next couple of months is the route 61 corridor through Pomona, Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana.

The current 61 is our highest ridership corridor with more than 6,000 boardings a day. We’re looking at ways to speed it up because it currently takes about an hour and a half to go from one end of the corridor to the other. There are 92 stops in the 20 miles.

Our consultants Parsons are doing an alternatives analysis so we can determine the best way to tackle the issue. One of the biggest criteria for federal funding is cost effectiveness. So we look at what the cost would be of various measures we could use, such as transit signal priority, dedicated bus lanes, or just reducing the number of stops. The corridor could also be developed in phases–maybe by incorporating a limited stop express bus and later transitioning to bus rapid transit. We look at the cost of all these things and how it would impact both ridership and the movement of traffic along the corridor.”

Why not just put another bus in service on the corridor?

“Frequency helps a lot, but we also have to focus on decreasing the amount of time it takes for the bus to get through the corridor because, as traffic congestion worsens, our buses slow down. Alternatives like dedicated bus lanes and traffic signal priority help the buses move much more quickly.”

I know you regularly use public transit yourself. Do you feel it’s important for you to do that? Is it a personal or professional choice?

“Both. I’ve always taken transit whenever I could ever since I was in grad school.  As a student, I was dependent on the bus. I don’t really like driving a whole lot to begin with, and driving is getting more and more expensive.  So I think it’s really important to have options. I prefer riding my bicycle, taking the bus, or both, whenever possible. I find that bus riders are like a community, and the people are generally pretty courteous to each other.

As a transit planner, I do think you have to be a rider in order to understand how a rider experiences the system. I find I am constantly taking my observations as a rider and applying them to my planning projects. That’s why all of us in the planning department ride all the routes in the system regularly.

Do you use NexTrip when you’re traveling?

“Yes. It’s actually been working out for me very well. I can use it to see when the next bus is arriving at the stop so I know how long I have to wait for a transfer. Then I can decide whether it’s faster to catch the bus there or if I should bike over to an alternative stop instead. It’s a huge help to be able to access live bus information from your phone. ”

 

Do you like this story and want to use it for your blog or newsletter? All our stories may be freely reposted and shared with others!

Do you have a great Omnitrans story to share? Let us know!
Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Early Adopter, Now A NexTrip Advocate

When NexTrip was launched at the end of January, Catherine was one of the first ones to take advantage of the new technology. She was an instant fan.

“I know when the bus is actually coming without needing to memorize a schedule. No longer do I wonder if I’ll miss my bus if I use the restroom.  I can set alerts on my phone for the bus near my home and stay in my air conditioning until the last minute instead of baking in the summer heat.”

Since then, she’s passed the experience on to many of her fellow riders. “Every chance I get, I help others learn about NexTrip, often breaking the ice by telling them exactly how many minutes until their bus arrives. Once, to test its accuracy, I set an alert for 1 minute. The bus arrived about a minute after the alert came to my phone. In a nutshell, I never worry about when the bus will show up as long as I have my cell. I KNOW! Thanks for implementing NexTrip.”

Although she has had a driver’s license since she was 18, Catherine has never owned or had regular access to a car, and taxicabs just aren’t cost-effective for her budget. “If Omnitrans was not an effective tool for transportation for all my non-emergency needs, I would have moved somewhere with better public transit years ago,” she says frankly.

As a regular rider, Catherine hopes to eventually see Omnitrans offer extended weekend coverage. As a Colton resident, it would allow her the freedom to enjoy more events and attend late evening services at her church of choice in Redlands. In the meantime, she is enjoying her new found flexibility with our NexTrip real-time bus prediction system.

–Juno Kughler Carlson

Try NexTrip for yourself.
Get real time arrival information via text message, online or by phone!

Do you like this story and want to use it for your blog or newsletter? All our stories may be freely reposted and shared with others!

Do you have a great Omnitrans story to share? Let us know!
Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Rt. 11 Baseline Street Bridge Detours

On April 24th and 25th, Baseline Street Bridge will be closed each evening between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. As a result, the last two trips on both days for Route 11 northbound and southbound will follow the detours listed below.

Route 11 Northbound Detour

  • From G Street
  • Left on 9th Street
  • Right on Mount Vernon
  • Left on Baseline
  • Continue normal Route.

Route 11 Southbound Detour

  • From Massachusetts
  • Right on Baseline
  • Left on Mount Vernon
  • Left on 9th Street
  • Right on G Street
  • Continue normal Route.

Looking for real-time bus arrival information?  Try NexTrip!

 You can also access NexTrip information on these cell phone apps:

  • NextBus
  • iNextBus
  • Smart Ride