Tag Archives: omnitrans rider profile

40th Anniversary Sweepstakes Winners Announced!

Last month, we reached an important landmark which you may have heard a thing or two about – our 40th anniversary! As part of our celebration, we gave away 40 prizes, one for each year that Omnitrans has proudly served the San Bernardino Valley.

Winners were chosen at random from our pool of 700-plus sweepstakes entries, and the grand prize winner of a $400 Visa gift card and twelve 31-day bus passes is Juan Perez of Fontana! Thanks to all who entered.

Juan Perez

Juan Perez of Fontana, the grand prize winner!

“When you first called me, I didn’t know who it was. I was at work and didn’t believe it,” Juan tells us of the surprise congratulatory phone call from Omnitrans. “After I heard the voicemail message and called back, then I thought ‘Okay, this is legit.’”

Juan first learned about the giveaway when he noticed the advertisement on an Omnitrans bus. We were pleased to know that he found out about the sweepstakes the “old school” way in an age dominated by digital and social media!

Omnitrans has been a part of the 28-year-old’s life for many years, tracing back to his days as a high school student, when he took the bus home after school. “I didn’t know all the routes back then, and I would end up getting lost sometimes,” Juan laughs as he reminisces.

These days, Juan rides Omnitrans when he and his brother feel like enjoying a day together at San Manuel Casino in Highland, or simply choose to leave their car at home.

“It’s helpful if you don’t want to take an Uber or drive yourself. It’s a lot cheaper than those options,” he says. “Or, if I want to have an [adult] beverage, I obviously don’t want to drive, and I feel safe riding Omnitrans.”

Juan is thankful to have entered the drawing, and the gift card will definitely come in handy for him this holiday season! “Thanks, Omnitrans for the prize and congratulations on your 40-year anniversary!” says a delighted Juan.

For the full list of our 40th Anniversary Sweepstakes winners, please click here.

Single Dad and Family Thrive on Freeway Express Service

We met Vincent and his family one morning while riding Route 215, one of Omnitrans’ Freeway Express routes, to Downtown Riverside. He and his two children, Jeremy and Destiny, ages 3 and 2, respectively, board the bus every morning to head from home in San Bernardino to Riverside, where he drops them off at daycare before he goes about his day.

“My car has been down for about a month now, so we ride Omnitrans every morning to Riverside and back to San Bernardino when [the kids] get out at 4 p.m.,” Vincent tells us as he holds Destiny in his lap and her brother, Jeremy, looks out the window. “It’s an efficient and quick way to get where we need to go.”

vincent

Route 215 has been a bit of a life saver for their family. In just a few weeks of riding, they have become acquainted with the drivers and grown to enjoy the experience of making the bus part of their daily routine.

“The drivers on this route are awesome and reliable. They do a great job and we never feel unsafe riding the bus,” Vincent tells us. “Not only that, but I love that the freeway express route is timely. I know exactly when the bus will depart from the San Bernardino Transit Center and I don’t have to wait around for it to arrive.”

Timeliness is key, especially when connecting to two other routes during your trip, like Vincent and his children do. All in all, they make it to daycare in about an hour, thanks to the Freeway Express route’s limited stops.

By the time we reach the second and last stop of Route 215 at the Riverside Transit Center, the two young kids are getting antsy and ready to play. “If only we all woke up with this much energy and didn’t need energy drinks or coffee in the morning!” jokes Vincent. They wave as they hop off the bus to catch their RTA connection for last leg of their trip.

Omnitrans currently operates two different freeway express routes, Route 215 from San Bernardino to Riverside via I-215, and Route 290 from San Bernardino to Montclair via I-10.

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.

Veteran Passenger Benefits from New Connection at SBTC

We gathered on Wednesday, September 14th for the official unveiling of Pass Transit’s Route 120 connection at the San Bernardino Transit Center. The new stop for the commuter route has only been in effect for less than one week, but has already improved mobility of residents such as Vaughn Palmer.

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Vaughn Palmer and Brenda Knight, City of Beaumont Councilmember at the San Bernardino Transit Center.

Vaughn, a Beaumont resident, is a disabled veteran of our armed forces who travels to the Loma Linda VA Hospital several times a month to get health care. Riders receive a free Omnitrans connection at the SBTC when connecting from Pass Transit, which makes it possible for Vaughn to reach new destinations.

“I live in Beaumont and I’m going on full disability, so getting beyond San Bernardino or Loma Linda if I wanted to do it, I couldn’t catch the bus because it didn’t stop [here]. I use this bus all the time to go the VA hospital, but now with this connection I can go anywhere I’d like,” Vaughn said. “I can’t drive, so the bus systems make it a whole lot easier.”

Prior to this week, the nearest connection was at the Metrolink station in San Bernardino, a 24 minute walk to the Transit Center. In fact, Vaughn tells us of a disabled rider who had to travel that distance on his wheelchair to connect with Omnitrans.

“He would have to get off at the train station and come all the way up [to the Transit Center] on his electric wheelchair. But now he gets off here and goes straight to his bus. That’s a big help for those who are handicapped.”

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City of Beaumont officials and staff at the new connection’s unveiling.

Brenda Knight, City of Beaumont Councilmember is pleased that residents who rely on public transit are able to extend their transportation network. “What’s so very, very wonderful about this is that it opened up a new world to get out of Beaumont and to be able to have access to so many, many other areas and it’s just really exciting. I was in on the beginning of the Route 120 and so to see it come this far is absolutely phenomenal,” she says.

Vaughn looks forward to exploring new cities in the San Bernardino Valley with his mother, who is also disabled, now that the partnership between Pass Transit and the SBTC has made heading west easier for them.

For more information about Omnitrans’ reduced bus fare and passes for Veterans, visit Omnitrans.org.

Who’s Riding The Freeway Express?

When asked how often he rides Omnitrans, Rodney James, Jr. had to pause. 

 “Wow, a lot. Definitely more than three times a week” said Rodney. 

After moving to San Bernardino from New York 10-15 years ago, the 41-year-old began using the bus to commute to work, take care of shopping, and attend school.  His route of choice:  The 215 Freeway Express Route.

He moved from New York to San Bernardino initially to be with family.   Why San Bernardino?

“I was thinking about moving to Rancho Cucamonga, but San Bernardino felt a lot more like home.”

The convenience of a friendly transit system was something that played into Rodney’s decision.

“The people are really nice, and the bus stations are really close,” said Rodney.

Rodney attends San Bernardino Valley College in San Bernardino and is studying to be a nutritionist. His dream is to have his own start- up dedicated to helping improve the nutrition and health of others.

“But you will never guess what I was doing before -“I worked for Nintendo!” he exclaimed.  Rodney’s job as a “debugger” was to test new games video games before they hit the market. Nintendo 64, Gameboy, Virtual Boy, Gameboy Advanced -consoles that would make any gamer from the 90’s jealous.

“I tested games for all kinds of devices,”  said Rodney. He was also one of the first to try out Donkey Kong Country before it was released.

 Although he smiles upon the days he used to work for Nintendo, Rodney is looking forward to the future he has ahead of him.

“I want to help other people get healthy” says Rodney, an excited grin taking over his face.  

Nutrition is his passion and he is firmly focused on achieving his dream.  We’re happy that Omnitrans is helping Rodney achieve his goals by getting him to school, home and around town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can we turn a non-rider into an sbX fan?

Mary and Jackson sbX BRT

Could we actually convert someone who is not normally a bus rider into an sbX fan? That was the question we set out to answer that question this week with a special tweetup aboard sbX.

It all began with this Twitter conversation.

Tweetup aboard sbX

Cloud9_72 is the Twitter handle for Inland Empire native Mary Risner. Mary takes a strong interest in community news and closely follows local reporters, law enforcement and politics on social media. Her husband works at the Department of Water, and the couple has a 10-year-old son named Jackson. When Jackson was three, he was diagnosed with autism, and Mary put aside her career as a school tutor to focus her energies on being a full time mom. She also connects with other parents of autistic kids online, helping them find the resources they need.

Omnitrans sbX BRT mom and son

Mary agreed to take us up on our offer of an sbX tour. I met her and Jackson at the Palm and Kendall Park and Ride where they were admiring the artwork on the glass station panels and checking out the ticket vending machine.   I asked them what they thought so far.

Jackson’s blue eyes looked anxious. “I’m a little worried because I’ve never ridden a bus before, except for a school bus.”

“Not a problem” I reassured him. “I am going to be your own personal escort and ride along with you and your mom. You won’t have to worry about a thing. I even have passes and goody bags here for you guys.”

He smiled and started digging into the bag I offered him. “Thanks!”

Mary pointed to the bottom of the map case. “I was trying to figure out the route, and the map was scaring me a little. It covers a huge area and it looks like it would be easy to get lost.”

“Actually that the map for the entire Omnitrans system,” I explained. “You’re right. We have a big service area, so it can be a little intimidating at first. We’re taking the sbX line which is pretty much a straight shot from here to the Loma Linda VA Hospital. The sbX coaches travel down the E Street corridor and back up again in a continuous loop.”

Mary smiled. “I think I can manage that.”

I snapped a few photos of her and Jackson beside the sbX coach. “Hold up your ticket for the picture, mom,” Jackson urged her.

We all laughed.

“I’ve only ridden a bus one time back when I was in high school,” Mary confessed. “And it wasn’t a good experience. I was so shaken up by it that I decided I would rather walk the three miles between my house and the school rather than ever ride again.”

“Let’s see if we can change your mind,” I told her. “Ready to go guys?”

We climbed aboard, and I showed them how to insert their passes into the farebox. Walking up the aisle, they were all smiles as they looked around them.

“It’s actually really nice,” said Mary sounding surprised.

Jackson made a beeline for the center of the vehicle. “Look at the high seats, mom! I want to sit there!”

Pulling out of the station, we made our way to Loma Linda. Jackson was excited as Mary pointed out familiar landmarks along the way: restaurants and malls, schools where she used to tutor, places where family friends work, and restaurants they might want to visit.

The two also liked seeing the different art at the stations we passed. Mary was particularly drawn to the Hunt’s Lane station display “Setting The Table” which featured vintage looking dinner plates on a glass panel.

“They look like real dishes in the glass!” she marveled.

As we pass by a car repair shop, Mary told me her husband had ridden sbX himself recently when he had to drop off his car to be fixed. Instead of waiting around the shop for two hours, her rode sbX over to a local restaurant to get a bite to eat. He thought the coach was nice and liked the fast travel time.

At Loma Linda we got off at the Park and Ride to have lunch at the BK Subs next door.

We chatted about our families, pets and our plans for the summer.

“With school out, we’ve been looking for things to do together that don’t cost a lot of money,” Mary told me. “Riding the bus today has been like a little adventure for us. What do you think, Jackson?  Maybe we could take sbX and meet dad at his office for lunch sometime? Or maybe the three of us could take a trip to Inland Center Mall and go to Chuck E. Cheese.”

Jackson grinned, “That would be fun!”

After lunch we board sbX to head back. I find out that Jackson is an avid gamer. He was excited to learn that I’m an angry bird fan and that the red bird is both our favorites. He loves Mario, Q-Bert, Pokemon and all the classics.

“He makes Youtube videos about some of his favorite characters,” Mary told me proudly. “He draws them and makes up stories about them. He’s a really talented artist.”

This was the perfect opportunity to talk to them about some of the features sbX has to offer tech savvy riders. I pointed out the overhead power outlets that can be used to charge small electronics and informed them there was free on board Wi-Fi.

“No way!” exclaimed Jackson practically bouncing with excitement.

He and Mary immediately pulled out their devices to give it a try.

“So what do you think? Have we made an sbX fan out of you?” I asked Mary. “Do you think you’d come back on your own and ride again?”

She laughed. “Yes, it was a lot of fun. And I can relax and hang out with Jackson instead of having to focus on driving. Next time I’ll bring my husband with us, and we can do a family trip. Maybe I can figure out how to take the regular Omnitrans bus to get here instead of driving.”

“That’s easy enough. Just call our customer service center, tell them where you are and where you want to go and they’ll help you plan your trip.”

“Wow, I didn’t know you guys did that. Thanks!”

As we arrived back at Palm and Kendall, Jackson suggested I take one more picture. He’d been having fun during the trip coming up with poses for me and took his job as a model very seriously. “I call this one ‘The Thinking Man,’” he said, propping his hand under his chin and elbow on his knee. “It’s a famous statue.”

“I know that, but I’m surprised that you know that,” I laughed. “You are one smart guy. Thanks for modeling for me.”

“You’re welcome.”

We all hugged when we disembarked, feeling like old friends.

“Thanks so much for the trip. We had fun!” said Mary.

As our two new sbX fans walked down the station, I pulled out the camera again. “Hey Jackson!” I yelled. “One last time!”

Jackson turned around on cue and gave a wave at the camera. A good model always knows how to strike a pose.

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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They call me the Bus Man

San Bernardino resident Jerry Silva has been riding Omnitrans since 1981. “They call me the Bus Man,” he grins. “I ride around ten buses a day, sometimes just to sight-see and get out of the house. I ride for the joy of it.”

Jerry also likes riding the bus to the movies or to hang out with his best friend in Fontana who he’s known since 1976. They are both Dodger fans who met in kindergarten and connected over their love of baseball. Forty-two years later, their friendship is still going strong and they go out of their way to spend time together.

Jerry has ridden the bus for so long that he knows all the routes, most of the drivers and even the Omnitrans receptionists who sell him his bus passes.

Jerry Silva and Omnitrans receptionist

“Everybody’s so kind and courteous,” he says. “I’ve known driver Daniel Hernandez over two years now. He’s really friendly and has a great attitude towards passengers. He gets the job done. He makes sure everyone has the right fare, has a bus book and so forth. Charlene is very nice too. I’ve had a good experience with all the drivers.”

Jerry Silva catching an Omnitrans busFor Jerry, the bus is more than just a means of transport. It is a way to stay connected with his community. Having struggled with depression for most of his life, he has found the best medicine is reaching out to make a difference to others.

“I like to help people get to where they’re going, especially the senior citizens,” says Jerry. “If they don’t know which bus to take, I explain it to them and let them know what it will cost and so forth. It’s all about kindness, making people feel better when they’re down and out, looking for opportunities to do nice things. I am always positive. I don’t believe in the negative. I always tell people that negative attitudes lead to bad experiences. If you just move forward, then you have a future. Today is a beautiful day. Who knows what tomorrow may hold for us? “

Jerry R Silva on an Omnitrans bus

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

Do you like this story and want to share it on your blog or newsletter?  All of our articles may be freely shared with others. Do you have a great Omnitrans or sbX story to tell?  Let us know!