Tag Archives: omnitrans safety

Omnitrans Earns Top Industry Honors in Transit Safety and Security

Omnitrans accepts APTA Bus Safety & Security Gold Awards in Louisville, Kentucky. From left: Omnitrans Director of Operations Shawn Brophy, Director of Maintenance Connie Raya, Safety & Regulatory Compliance Specialist Terry Morocco, Fleet Safety & Training Instructor Kimberly Perkins, Maintenance Supervisor Victoria Chesney, APTA President & CEO Paul Skoutelas.

Omnitrans snags the gold! We are proud to be recognized by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) for improvements made to the safety and security of our customers and employees. The Bus Safety & Security Excellence Gold Awards were presented in a ceremony held in Louisville, Kentucky on May 21.

“These awards recognize our team’s efforts to build a strong safety and security culture through constant vigilance and continual innovation,” said Omnitrans CEO P. Scott Graham. “The public entrusts us with transporting them safely and securely wherever life takes them, and that remains our top priority.”

Winning transit agencies were selected by APTA based on four criteria: project effectiveness; benefits accrued directly from the positive impact of the program; innovation; and project transferability that allows other transit systems to replicate the success.

“These award-winning public transportation programs are models of excellence in the areas of safety and security,” said APTA President and CEO Paul P. Skoutelas. “The implementation of these initiatives demonstrates the ongoing commitment to improving safety and security for their passengers, employees, and communities in the public transit industry.”

On the security front, Omnitrans was lauded for its innovative creation of an amateur radio service that ensures our ability to communicate with emergency responders throughout our service area during emergency events, when cellular/mobile and landline telephone services are lost.  The Inland Valley Emergency Communications Service HAM radio group has grown from 8 members in 2015 to 22 members in 2019.

On the safety side, Omnitrans was commended for implementation of technology, equipment, and training program improvements which contributed to a 32% reduction in preventable accidents since 2012.  Efforts included the addition of audible turn signals on buses and new-generation mobility device securement equipment to all buses. Currently, Omnitrans is also piloting automated collision-avoidance technology.

Safety training innovations include a state-of-the-art bus driving simulator used by coach operator trainees to supplement classroom and behind-the-wheel training.  Omnitrans also employs two Fleet Safety Trainers who are DMV Certified Examiners, which streamlines the process to complete mandated DMV required testing needed to obtain a Commercial Driver’s License.

Omnitrans is appreciative of all the dedicated employees whose contributions have led to this prestigious industry recognition! Below is a video highlighting the improvements that garnered us this “nation’s best” award.

2019 Million Mile Club Coach Operators Recognized for Safe Driving Record

Omnitrans’ 2019 Million Mile Club drivers (from left to right): Mike Tarifi, Arturo Suarez, Peter Kerr, Albert Meraz, John Harrison (above), Karen Ramnarain, Samehesha Love, and Enrique Lipp. Not pictured: Sherron Filer.

Driving from here to the moon and back seems like an insurmountable distance. Now imagine doing that not once, but more than two times, without being in an accident! That is the equivalent of what it takes to join the prestigious Million Mile Club.

This month, the Omnitrans Board of Directors recognized our new members of the Club for their driving safety achievements. These dedicated coach operators have reached the prestigious million-mile mark by logging 25,000 driving hours over 12 years without a preventable accident. Our Two Million Mile Club drivers have completed 50,000 driving hours over the span of 25 years without a preventable accident.

“This is a tremendous milestone for these drivers,” says Director of Operations Shawn Brophy. “The criteria to hit the Million Mile Club is multi-faceted, and not an easy achievement. Safety is very important to the organization and to the public that we serve, and these drivers represent the best of the best when it comes to delivering on our mission to provide safe and reliable transportation.”

Each 2019 inductee received a special plaque, jacket, hat, belt buckle, certificate, a silver name plate, a day off with pay, and $500 in recognition of their great feat. The 2 Million Mile drivers received this, plus a bonus five-day cruise to Mexico including paid time off.

Congratulations to these drivers for setting the standard of excellence! We appreciate their commitment to safety as they connect our community.

Million Mile Club

  • Sherron Filer
  • John Harrison
  • Peter Kerr
  • Enrique Lipp
  • Samehesha Love
  • Albert Meraz
  • Karen Ramnarain

Two Million Mile Club

  • Arturo Suarez
  • Mike Tarifi

Omnitrans installs glowing, solar-powered lights at bus stops

In response to customer feedback regarding safety at bus stops, Omnitrans has begun installing solar-powered lights at selected bus stops recommended to us by our riders.

Bus stop locations were determined from three sources – the annual ABBG customer satisfaction survey, an sbX before-and-after study survey in 2017, and subsequent focus groups with riders following the study – two of which were tied specifically to safety.

Omnitrans riders shared with staff why they felt unsafe at certain bus stops. To address such safety concerns, Omnitrans identified $100,000 in funding to purchase 100 new solar-powered lights to install atop bus stop signs.

“Feedback from our customers weighed heavily in our decision of which stops were prioritized for solar lighting,” explains Service Planning Manager Jeremiah Bryant. “We also took into account whether there was existing light at stops, such as light provided by light posts.”

The solar-powered light’s battery charges throughout the day and is programmed to automatically turn on and off at sundown and sunrise.

“These lights illuminate a bright eight-foot radius to improve our riders’ safety and security,” explains Stops and Stations Supervisor Mel Cabang. “One full charge lasts up to four days, and the system battery has a life of about five years.”

Currently being installed throughout our service area, all 100 lights will be completely installed by summer 2019.

If you have a suggestion for a bus stop that could use more lighting after dark, please provide the exact location in the comments. Your feedback is welcome and greatly appreciated!

Hide, Lock, Take: Fighting Auto Theft with Awareness

Many of our transit passengers leave their vehicles parked at one of our many Park & Ride locations before hopping on sbX or the bus to complete their trip. The Omnitrans Safety & Security team is taking action to help Omnitrans passengers avoid being victims of vehicle burglary by following three easy steps: Hide, Lock, Take.

Every two minutes, a car is broken in to in the United States, resulting in a reported 721,000 auto thefts nationwide each year. Of those thefts, over 80% had the keys left in the car. To combat this problem, Hide Lock Take (HLT) was started in 2004 with the Dallas Police Department and the Central Business District. Since then, those organizations with “Hide Lock Take” awareness have lowered vehicle crimes 40-90%.

New signs installed in Omnitrans parking lots remind passengers to practice these vehicle theft-prevention methods.

FACTS:

  • Every year there are 721,000 auto thefts nationwide.
  • It’s illegal to leave your car running unattended 80% of auto thefts occur when keys are left in the car.
  • Criminals will watch a car for days before acting.
  • Criminals look for shopping bags, electronics, & purses. Most cars can be opened in 3 minutes with a coat hanger.

TIPS:

  • Park your car in well-lit areas and nearest to street or entrance.
  • Remind yourself and others to Hide Lock Take.
  • Identify your valuable by making it with a number on it.
  • Always call security and never approach a suspicious person.

Vehicle crimes are at an all-time low but the criminals are not. The reason is you! As you become aware of your belongings and lock your cars, you prevent vehicle related crimes. Take part of the Hide Lock Take program at work, home, and everywhere else!

Employees of the Quarter, Keith Lembach and Dan Olaru

sbX Field Supervisor Keith Lembach believes that safety is not just the Coach Operator’s job – it should be everybody’s priority. It is his commitment to passenger safety that earned him the recognition of the Omnitrans Board of Directors as our Employee of the Quarter, in partnership with Body Shop Technician Dan Olaru.

“I always ask people, ‘How many people do you want to see injured today?’ says Keith. “If the answer is more than zero, you need to go home. It’s all of our jobs to promote safety.”

Employees of the Quarter Keith Lembach (center left) and Dan Nelu (center right) are recognized by (from the left) CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham and Board of Directors Chair Ron Dailey at May’s meeting.

Prior to joining Omnitrans two and a half years ago, Keith had acquired 37 years of valuable transportation experience. This includes years driving private charter buses and trucks. As a trucker, he accumulated two million accident-free miles – a remarkable feat in safe driving.

Just prior to Omnitrans, Keith served as safety manager for a transportation company. Seeking to turn around their dissatisfactory safety record, the company asked him to takeover as director of the program.

A desired change in career led Keith to Omnitrans, where he enjoys being out in our service area and interacting with our drivers and passengers. “I enjoy that every day is different. You can’t script this job. Every driver is different, every passenger is different,” he shares.

While driving sbX one day, Keith heard a loud crash near the back of the bus. Immediately, he paused the bus and noticed that a bike had slid all the way to the front of the bus from the bike holding area.

“I walked back and told the passenger that the bike had to be secured onboard. He said that it had been strapped in properly, but that the Velcro straps weren’t strong enough to hold the bike and that it fell out of the storage area,” he explains.

sbX Field Supervisor Keith Lembach begins his day at 5:30 a.m., helping to start the coaches and monitoring bus pullouts as service begins for the day. He checks for mechanical and farebox issues and helps them get resolved as service on the street is a time-sensitive matter.

Keith methodically assessed the bike straps and noticed that they were worn out and unable to hold the bike in any way. During subsequent ride checks, he noticed bikes tipping, falling, or coming completely unstrapped out of the metal racks. He saw the potential danger to passengers and to their property, and took a proactive approach to mitigating the hazard.

“Keith came into the Maintenance office in the body shop and talked to the supervisors about the trouble that he’d run into on sbX with bike racks,” says Body Shop Technician Dan Olaru.

“They asked him to come see me. From there, we walked the bus and he told me what he wanted to achieve. About a week later, I started work on a prototype, which I finished in the same day. We installed it on a bus, and about a month and a half later we were ready to create bike racks for the entire sbX fleet.”

By trial-and-error, Keith and Dan determined the exact measurements of the new sbX bike storage racks. They readjusted heights several times to ensure bikes of all sizes fit without issue. Once the final prototype was tested, no matter how fast the bus accelerated or stopped, the bikes were not going anywhere.

Dan, a 20-year employee of Omnitrans and now two-time Employee of the Quarter, methodically employed his creativity and self-taught skill to design, build, weld, and install a new solution to better serve our bike-riding passengers. He used existing parts from the old bike racks and implemented them into the design of our new, unique bike racks, minimizing the cost of the project.

Dan works to repair minor damage caused to a panel on the rear side of the bus. After sanding the area, he will fill the dents and scrapes, smooth them, and prime the panel before adding a fresh coat of paint.

“In 1989, I was approved for a visa to move to the United States from Romania which was under communist rule,” reveals Dan. “When I arrived, I worked for an asphalt company and then was hired at Omnitrans in 1997. I knew a little bit about body work from doing that on the side, but this is where my skills got much better.”

Now one of two body shop employees, Dan recalls a time in which there were six workers in the body shop. “Whenever we had a little downtime, I used to practice,” he recalls. “I learned a lot of what I know over the years by observing others and asking the right questions.”

“Dan’s ability to install the new racks with minimal changes to the bus is a work of art,” says Maintenance Supervisor Keith Hunt. “Each time, Dan goes above and beyond what was asked of him. We truly appreciate his work ethic and can-do attitude!”

“It’s a different thing to take on every day – challenging things,” says Dan. “But I like that. The challenges are why I am where I am in my career today. I like to see things that I’ve created with my own hands be implemented and approved of by the people around me and by our passengers.”

2018 Million Mile Coach Operators recognized for safe driving record

Imagine driving the circumference of planet Earth. Now imagine doing that 40 times without being involved in an accident. That’s what these Coach Operators have achieved to be inducted into the exclusive Million Mile Club at Omnitrans!

Eight 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. Three drivers have completed 50,000 driving hours over 25 years without a preventable accident, making them 2 Million Mile Club members.

Our 2018 Million Mile Club drivers (from left to right): Naomi Bryant, Sidney Rosario, Maria Granado, Fernando Ahumada, Ana Castellon, Lori Ruiz, Harry Castillo. Not pictured: Royce Leech.

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 drivers also received a bonus five-day cruise to Mexico including paid time off!

Our 2 Million Mile Club drivers (from left to right): Terrence Gipson, David Torres. Not pictured: Rance Hodges.

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

  • Fernando Ahumada
  • Naomi Bryant
  • Ana Castellon
  • Harry Castillo
  • Maria Granado
  • Royce Leech
  • Sidney Rosario
  • Lori Ruiz

2 Million Mile Coach Operators

  • Terrance Gipson
  • Rance Hodge
  • David Torres

To view more photos of our 2018 Million Mile Club inductees, click here.

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.”

mm1

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.

blog-text-a-tip2

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.”

sbx9-v2

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.”