Tag Archives: omnitrans safety

Coach Operators recognized for safe driving record

The Omnitrans Million Mile Club has welcomed new drivers to its ranks! Fourteen coach operators are recognized this year for their achievement in safely driving 25,000 hours without a preventable accident, a feat that is accomplished over the course of 12 years. One driver has completed 50,000 driving hours over 25 years without a preventable accident, making them a 2 million mile club member.

From left to right: Salvador Soto Luna, Antoinette Meza, Jerry Milton (2 Million Mile), Michael Morrow, Dagoberto Perez, Elizabeth Samaro, Clarissa VanDyke.

“To put into perspective what each new member of the elite Million Mile Drivers Club has accomplished, consider the miles driven,” says Assistant Transportation Manager Mike DiFonzo. “The circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles. Each driver drove an equivalent of 40 trips around the earth without a chargeable accident or safety violation. What an amazing accomplishment!”

From left to right, are: Manuel Acosta, Kathleen Havey, David Castillo, and sbX driver Juan Miranda.

Each driver was presented with a special plaque, jacket, hat, belt buckle, certificate of recognition, a silver name plate, a day off with pay, and $500. Our 2 Million Mile driver also received a bonus five-day cruise to Mexico including paid time off!

Our congratulations go to these drivers for setting the standard of excellence. We are grateful for their commitment to safety as they connect our community.

1 Million Mile Coach Operators

  • Manuel Acosta
  • David Castillo
  • Kathleen Havey
  • Antoinette Meza
  • Juan Miranda
  • Michael Morrow
  • Dagoberto Perez
  • Earl Roberts
  • Elizabeth Samaro
  • Salvador Soto Luna
  • Dennail Sweatt
  • Jackie Sweatt
  • Wendell Taylor
  • Clarissa Van Dyke

2 Million Mile Coach Operators

  • Jerry Milton

To view more photos of our 2017 Million Mile Club inductees, click here.

Omnitrans Introduces “Don’t Touch the Driver” Safety Campaign

In partnership with WeTip, Inc., Omnitrans is introducing a new safety information campaign, “Don’t Touch the Driver,” on its buses and at transit centers to remind the community that any violence against bus drivers may be a felony offense.

“Driver assaults are infrequent at Omnitrans. Unfortunately they are trending upward. In partnership with WeTip are taking a proactive role to protect our employees and customers,” said Omnitrans Security & Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Mark Crosby.

Campaign materials feature a simple graphic and the information that any assault against a bus driver may result in arrest and prosecution. Anyone who has information that leads to the arrest and conviction of someone responsible for such an incident is eligible to receive a WeTip reward of up to $1,000.

WeTip, Inc. offers an anonymous nationwide crime reporting hotline, 1-800-78-CRIME (1-800-78-27463). Operators are on hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, to take information on crime, including any related to public transit. Calls are completely anonymous.  Tips may also be submitted online at www.wetip.com.

“Don’t Touch the Driver” decals are being placed in each Omnitrans bus, and signage also will appear at transit centers and on the agency website.

Million Mile Coach Operators honored for safety record

Omnitrans Million Mile Coach Operators 2016

Robbie Fields, Lydia Bennefield, Fleet Safety & Training Supervisor Don Frazier, Audre Caldwell, Frank Astorga, and Fleet Safety & Training Instructor Kimberly Perkins.

Imagine driving the circumference of the earth. Now imagine doing that 40 times without being involved in an accident! This is the equivalent of what it takes to become a member of the exclusive Omnitrans One Million Mile Club. It’s not easy.

Omnitrans Million Mile coach operators 2016

Audre Caldwell, Omnitrans Board Chair Sam Spagnolo, Lydia Bennefield, Robbie Fields, HR Director Marjorie Ewing, Operations Director Diane Caldera, Frank Astorga


This month, the Million Mile Club welcomed four new 1 million mile drivers and two 2 million mile drivers into its ranks (see list at end of article). These dedicated coach operators have achieved the prestigious 1 million mile mark by logging 25,000 driving hours without a preventable accident.

Omnitrans Operations Director Diane Caldera jokes with the Million Mile honorees before the ceremony

Operations Director Diane Caldera jokes with the honorees before the awards ceremony

Coach operators Frank Astorga, Robbie Fields, Aundres Caldwell and Lydia Bennefield were among six new Million Mile Club inductees to be honored in a special awards ceremony at the Omnitrans Board of directors meeting on March 2nd.

We caught up with them before the ceremony to ask them what advice they would give others who want to achieve the same safety record.

Omnitrans Million Mile Coach Operators 2016

“I’ve always been a safe driver,” coach operator Aundre tells us. “You have to be that way in this job. Of course some of it comes with experience too. I’ve been driving a long time. The biggest thing is to just pay attention to everything going on around you.”

Omnitrans Million Mile Coach Operators 2016

Robbie agrees. “I’ve been here 22 years and have to say that the Omnitrans safety program taught me quite a bit. You learn how to always be looking at least a block ahead to see what’s coming and to understand what could happen. It really raises your awareness.”

Kimberly Perkins, Transportation Manager John Steffon, and Robbie Fields

Kimberly Perkins, Transportation Manager John Steffon, and Robbie Fields


Lydia nods. “People don’t realize all that goes into operating a coach; they think it’s just a fun job. In some ways it’s a compliment, because you seem so relaxed they have no idea what you’re really doing. But there is always something going on that you have to pay attention to. For example, whenever I’m passing a person parked at the side of the road I give a friendly honk to let them know I’m there. This way they don’t suddenly open their door and try to step out.”

Kimberly Perkins, John Steffon, and Audre Caldwell

Kimberly Perkins, John Steffon, and Audre Caldwell


“And then there’s sbX,” points out Frank. “With the rapid transit line, you have to be extra vigilant and anticipate that that people may do the wrong thing, like jaywalk or cut into the bus only lane. There’s a lot to think about.”


Kimberly Perkins, John Steffon and Frank Astorga


Fleet Safety and Training Instructor Kimberly Perkins coordinates the Million Mile Club awards process, and she has high praise for all the inductees. “They’re pros. They smile and they greet people, even when they’re having a bad day. I think what they’ve accomplished is amazing. That’s a very long time to go without an accident and to have no more than 30 total absences. It’s not easy—for our Two Million Milers especially.  In the past 13 years, only seventeen coach operators have achieved the Two Million Mile award.”

Kimberly Perkins, John Steffon and Lydia Bennefield

Kimberly Perkins, John Steffon and Lydia Bennefield

Our gratitude and congratulations go out to these latest Million Mile achievers whose commitment and dedication set the agency standard for safety and excellence.


One Million Mile Coach Operators:

Each receive a trophy, jacket, hat, belt buckle, certificate of recognition, a silver name plate, a check for $500 and a day off with pay.

  • Lydia Bennefield
  • Aundre Caldwell
  • Robbie Fields
  • Antonio Navarro


Two Million Mile Coach Operators:

Each receive a trophy, jacket, hat, belt buckle, certificate of recognition, a gold name plate, a check for $500, a 5-day cruise and 5 days off with pay.

  • Francisco Astorga
  • David Delgadillo

View more photos of our Million Mile honorees on Flickr.

Omnitrans Million Mile Coach Operators 2016



Omnitrans safety communications go interactive

Omnitrans Safety & Security team

Left to right: Director of Human Resources And Safety Regulatory Compliance Marjorie Ewing, Safety and Regulatory Compliance Specialist Terry Morocco, Safety and Regulatory Compliance Specialist Ross Hrinko , Security and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Mark Crosby. Seated: Safety and Regulatory Compliance Manager Tim Campbell

Thanks to our dedicated Safety and Security team, Omnitrans safety has taken some innovative strides over the past few months. These include the “Text-A-Tip” campaign, video newsletters and safety reminders, and a greater focus on emergency preparedness.

The “Text-A-Tip” campaign was developed by Security and Preparedness Coordinator Mark Crosby in an effort to give customers, as well as employees, the opportunity to report non-emergency concerns directly to a security officer via text or phone. This real time communication has helped provide critical information about incidents and allowed us to respond to them more quickly. Information on the service is publicized through business cards, bus cards, and a sticker at the front of each bus displaying the text number.


Since its launch, Omnitrans security officers have received 30-50 tips per month. The majority of these tips have been reports from passengers on rude or disorderly conduct on the bus. In these cases, the security office notifies Operations, and a Field Supervisor is immediately dispatched to provide assistance.   Other tips include observations of graffiti vandals or other suspicious behavior.

“We even have some people who text ‘Just wonder if you’re listening,’” says Safety and Regulatory Compliance Manager Tim Campbell. He laughs. “They’re always a little surprised because we answer them right away. It actually goes a long way in making our customers feel safe. They know we’re paying attention.”


The team has also looked at new ways to better serve our employees. In October, the department switched its monthly text newsletter to a video format. Employee feedback has been positive. Many say they don’t feel like reading a newsletter and that watching a video is more interesting.

“It’s much more personal and interactive,” explains Tim. “If I’m talking about slips while I’m walking down a stairway, or if I’m out in the parking lot reminding people to be safe and walk with a buddy, you immediately see it in context. It also makes the message easier to remember.”

Omnitrans employees assume a duck and cover position during an earthquake drill.

Omnitrans employees assume a duck and cover position during an earthquake drill.

The department is also in the process of developing other systems to share workplace safety messages. By late spring, the Safety and Security team will introduce a new, streaming safety and security channel. This video presentation will be displayed on newly placed plasma screens located at West and East Valley Operations, and Maintenance areas. Current data pertaining to accidents, injuries and tips of the day will be continually presented. These monitors will also be used to provide training over multiple days for special topics.

Tim believes the new technology will be an effective way to get out important information. “There will be a ticker at the bottom of the screen, a video in the middle and safety and security messages on top. For example, we can upload KPIs, or show bus videos to teach safety prevention. We control the feed, which allows us to pivot at any moment to share real time information on weather, flash floods, or crisis incidents like the recent San Bernardino shooting.”

New disaster preparation instruction for everything from fire drills to major earthquakes to active shooter scenarios are in the works for all staff as well. Tabletop exercises will be held to outline potential emergency scenarios and the steps the agency will take to minimize impact.  Preparation walk-throughs will be held and documented, and lessons learned will be discussed.

“This kind of hands-on and video training will help ensure that everyone has the skills needed to maintain a safe work environment and face any potential crisis,” points out Tim. “Our goal is to develop short, midterm and long term plans to progressively improve our capabilities to provide safety and security to our customers and employees.”

Omnitrans participates in disaster planning exercise

Mark Crosby, Security & Loss Prevention Supervisor (seated) and Ray Lopez, Safety & Security Director, test emergency equipment in the Omnitrans Mobile Command Center.

On June 13th, Omnitrans joins representatives from the San Bernardino County Fire Department, the Sheriff’s Department, the California Highway Patrol, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas Company, Verizon and other area agencies to evaluate and update the Golden Guardian 2012 tabletop exercise in the Cajon Pass. The analysis is part of the annual Golden Guardian Exercise, a statewide disaster preparedness program for first responders from local government.

The tabletop exercise focuses on a “ShakeOut” scenario, a 7.8 earthquake on the southern section of the San Andreas Fault. The Cajon Pass is of particular concern in this scenario because it sits directly on the fault and is a critical artery for transportation, electrical, gas, petroleum, water and telephone lines for the region.

“Since the events of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, it’s become increasingly important for public transit agencies to have a seat at the table for these types of discussions,” said Ray Lopez, Director of Safety and Security at Omnitrans. “We have the opportunity to collaborate on a preparedness plan with other first responders and see what works and what doesn’t when we put that plan into action.”

Some of the key stakeholders and first responders participating in the “ShakeOut” exercise at the Cajon Pass. The exercise simulates disaster scenarios likely to occur as the result of a 7.8 earthquake in the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault.

According to Lopez, there are small but critical details that are often overlooked in the planning process that will typically surface during a tabletop analysis. “Agencies who plan on sharing fuel in a crisis situation might suddenly realize the nozzles on their fueling stations are incompatible with each other,” he said. “Or emergency crews might want a bus to help evacuate an area an hour away, not realizing it would actually take longer for the bus to arrive. By discussing potential disaster scenarios like “ShakeOut,” we can get a clearer understanding of each others’ needs and capabilities moving forward.”

Lopez also believes that training Omnitrans employees for disaster preparedness at home as well as on the job is a critical component of the bus agency’s plan. “When a crisis strikes, things can quickly become chaotic,” said Lopez. “In addition to trying to keep routes up and running, we would need to set up shuttles to transport people to places like relief centers or hospitals. We would also need coach operators to drive those buses. If they have a home emergency plan in place and know that their families are taken care of, they will be more likely to respond.”

Mark Crosby, Security & Loss Prevention Supervisor and Ray Lopez, Safety & Security Director, outside the Omnitrans Mobile Command Center.

Omnitrans is one of the few bus agencies to have its own mobile command center, equipped with satellite phones, laptops, radios and other communications equipment. “In an emergency scenario, this would be the heart of our operation,” said Mark Crosby, Security & Loss Prevention Supervisor for Omnitrans. “Our mobile unit would become an information hub, and we would act as a liaison between Omnitrans and our partners. We would know what road conditions or crisis situations coach operators are reporting to dispatch and be able to communicate them directly to disaster crews and community partners. At the same time we would know what emergency activities are taking place on a regional level and keep our own people appraised as to what’s happening.”

“Preparedness for the next emergency is the key,” says Lopez.

Click here to view a copy of the Omnitrans Hazard and Mitigation Plan.

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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Kathleen B. Springer, Senior Curator of Geological Sciences at the San Bernardino County Museum speaks to participants in the “Shakeout” exercise at the Cajon Pass. The Pass sits directly on the San Andreas Fault and is a critical artery for transportation, electrical, gas, petroleum, water and telephone lines for the Southern California region.