Tag Archives: omnitrans sbx brt

sbX BRT stations before and after

Here’s a quick look at the development of our sbX BRT stations before and after with photos and artist renderings. We’ve definitely come a long way!

Have you ridden sbX yet?  Tell us what you think.

 

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Pep Rally Celebrates sbX Completion

New Omnitrans Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Service Launches April 28

sbX vehicle delivers riders to a pep rally celebrating the completion of the Omnitrans new bus rapid transit line.

sbX vehicle delivers riders to a pep rally celebrating the completion of the Omnitrans new bus rapid transit line.

With band playing, cheerleaders chanting, banners waving and over 200 people cheering, Omnitrans celebrated the completion of the sbX bus rapid transit line pep-rally style on April 22 in a ceremony adjacent to the line’s civic center station.   The new 16-mile BRT line begins passenger service on Monday, April 28, offering free rides through May 2nd.

sbX vehicle delivers riders to a pep rally celebrating the completion of the Omnitrans new bus rapid transit line.The sbX Green Line includes over five miles of dedicated lanes, 16 station locations, and four park-and-ride lots. It serves major activity centers in Loma Linda and San Bernardino including two hospitals, two universities, numerous trade schools, city and county government centers, and employment centers, along with major shopping, hospitality and entertainment venues.

FTA Region IX Administrator Leslie Rogers prepares to cut into a custom cake celebrating the completion of the sbX rapid transit line as local dignitaries look on. (From left, Loma Linda Councilmember Ronald Dailey, San Bernardino Councilmember Benito Barrios, event Emcee Lacey Kendall, Rogers, San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis, Omnitrans CEO Scott Graham.)

FTA Region IX Administrator Leslie Rogers prepares to cut into a custom cake celebrating the completion of the sbX rapid transit line as local dignitaries look on. (From left, Loma Linda Councilmember Ronald Dailey, San Bernardino Councilmember Benito Barrios, event Emcee Lacey Kendall, Rogers, San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis, Omnitrans CEO Scott Graham.)

“Transit is about more than just getting around: it maps a community’s priorities,” said Leslie Rogers, Regional Administrator for the Federal Transit Administration, at the event. “It’s also a ladder of opportunity that connects people to jobs. In fact, just building this project put hundreds of local residents to work in the throes of the recession, and we’re especially proud of that fact.” Approximately 220 jobs were generated during construction.

The crowd joined the San Bernardino Cardinals Cheerleaders in the cheer "sbX 2014!"

The crowd joined the San Bernardino Cardinals Cheerleaders cheering “sbX 2014!”

The 14 articulated vehicles manufactured by New Flyer for the sbX line, are the first five-door, compressed natural gas (CNG) powered, 60-footers ever built.  Omnitrans CEO/General Manager Scott Graham noted, “the sbX coaches feature our first rear-facing, self-securement wheelchair positions, our first interior bike racks, and our first on board Wi-Fi and power outlets.”

#sbx2014

Graham also commended the corridor contractor, Griffith/Comet, for completing the project on time, within budget, and with a perfect safety record of no lost-time accidents in over 400,000 hours worked.

#sbx2014 Omnitrans CEO Scott Graham and San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis

Omnitrans CEO Scott Graham and San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis

The BRT line utilizes TSP (traffic signal prioritization), so sbX vehicles can advance through busy intersections. Dedicated station platforms offer real-time arrival displays, ticket vending machines, emergency telephones, customer call boxes and public art.  To enhance security, the multiple video cameras at each station are monitored 24/7.

#sbx2014

The Omnitrans sbX launch is the culmination of over 10 years of planning, design, construction and system testing.  Parsons Transportation Group helped initiate the project in 2004, taking it from alternatives analysis through final design.  Jacobs Engineering handled construction management and related activities.

#sbx2014

Project partners included Omnitrans, U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration (FTA), San Bernardino Associated Governments, the City of San Bernardino and the City of Loma Linda. Of the total $191.7 million project budget, 96 percent came from federal, state and county funds designated for transit projects, including $75 million from the FTA Small Starts Program. The project includes three elements: vehicle purchase, corridor construction and vehicle maintenance facility upgrades.

#sbx2014

More Information available at:

#sbx2014

Andy Novak’s lifelong love of public transit

Transit advocate Andy Novak stands next to Omnitrans vintage bus Old Blue

Transit advocate Andrew Novak stands beside “Old Blue,” a 1958 vintage GMC transit coach restored by Omnitrans

For as far back as he can remember, Andy Novak has always been interested in public transit. As a child, he inherited his dad’s and grandfather’s love of trains which soon expanded to include buses as well.

“When I was a kid I used to love looking at the RTD [Southern California Rapid Transit District] maps and schedules,” chuckles Andy. “I was fascinated by the fact that someone could get on a bus and ride halfway across the city on a route.”

Later, as an adult, he found other people on the Internet who also liked buses.  He became actively involved with groups like Transit Advocates and The Motor Bus Society that would occasionally meet up to ride service or go on trips.

“The groups are pretty diverse, which makes it interesting. Many of the members also work within the transit industry as drivers, planners and mechanics. In addition to planning group trips, we help promote ridership and provide feedback to agencies based on our experience.”

Eventually he started a website called Rapid Transit Press (RTP), which featured his own books and photo galleries dedicated to public transit. In 2007 he published a special issue of his RTP New and Views magazine which covered 30 years of Omnitrans history and featured Old Blue on the cover.

RTP News and Views

Click to view this issue of RTP News and Views

“I had the chance to actually ride Old Blue back in 2006, during a Pacific Bus Museum trip,” Andy reminisced. “It was a great piece of history and the restoration job was nicely done. I think the older buses had a lot more character and style than you see today.”

Today Andy works as a ticketing department manager for Coach USA in Anaheim. The charter bus company offers sightseeing tours, airport shuttles, Megabus service and Amtrak thruway connections.

He is looking forward to the launch of the sbX rapid transit line and to getting a closer look at the new 60-foot articulated coaches.

“Good public transit is not only important, it’s a necessity. Not everyone can afford a car and not everyone can drive. And for others, it’s fun to just get on a bus and not have to worry about driving.”

Andrew Novak and members from the Motor Bus Society pose with Old Blue during a 2012 visit at Omnitrans. Click for larger image.

 

 

 

 

 

Female Air Force Major named Director of Operations

Diane Caldera has been appointed the new Director of Operations at Omnitrans after serving eight months as “interim.” It’s a challenge she’s excited to take on.

As Director, she will oversee more than 400 employees responsible for delivering public bus service to the San Bernardino Valley. Her department also manages transportation contracts which provide demand response services: OmniLink, a general public dial-a-ride; and, Access, for persons with disabilities.

When Diane joined the agency in 2005 as a coach operator, she quickly moved through the ranks.  Within six months she took a position in Human Resources, then returned to Operations to work as a Field Supervisor. Finally she was promoted to Assistant Transportation Manager where she spent 7 years managing and mentoring others.

“I like to take the time to talk with people and get to know them as individuals—especially our coach operators. This way I can recognize straight away when something’s bothering them and ask them about it. Their mindset plays such critical role in making sure they are mentally prepared and ready for the road that I want to help if I can.”

“Sometimes I offer advice or encourage them to get their education because they have so much potential and can move up. I want to see people succeed and always encourage them as much as possible. I like knowing that people can come to me, seek my opinion or ask for help—even outside my department. I  like having a positive impact on their lives.”

Diane didn’t have the luxury of a mentor in her own career but she figured things out on her own. Much of her learning was done the hard way, through on the job training. For the past 30 years, she has served in the Air Force and is currently a Major. Going from 17 years in enlisted service to becoming a commissioned officer in December 1999 was a huge goal for her, and now she looks forward to going before the Lieutenant Colonel Board for selection later this year.

“In the military I came up the ranks, especially in the flying career as loadmaster, in an area that was predominately male. I was one of the pioneers, one of the first women to get into that career field.  The decisions I made had a crucial impact. The error of margin for maintaining the planes center of balance was 3/10 of a percent. It was that critical. The plane could crash if it wasn’t balanced. It was very precise, very accurate and there was a lot of training involved. Just that position alone was a yearlong training.”

The skills Diane honed in the military proved invaluable in her transit career.

“The Air Force taught me a lot about time management. You learn to forecast and make decisions under pressure. And traveling to different cultures teaches you how important it is to walk in someone else’s shoes so you can better understand their perspective. It’s a good lesson that can also be applied to the workplace.”

Female Air Force Major Diane Caldera is new Director of Operations for Omnitrans

Diane also put herself through school and earned her Bachelors in Business Administration and her Masters in Human Resources. She pursued different degrees because she wanted to be well-rounded. Her business degree gave her a firm foundation in operations and finance, while HR taught her best practices in firing, hiring and labor negotiations. The combination of these skills has helped her to move up in the agency and has provided a solid groundwork for her new role as Director.

“I love the challenge,” admits Diane frankly. “As a director, you have a higher level view. Instead of being at 10,000 feet, you’re now at 25,000. You’re more involved. It’s about overseeing, streamlining, making things happen, keeping things rolling and ensuring everything is done safely. Instead of providing input, you are now the decision-maker.”

“It’s good to be in that position, but it also makes you cautious. You want to make sure you make the right decision. So you go in with an open mind, hearing all points of view and getting input from all levels before making any determination. And once you make the decision, you stand by it. You can’t be wishy-washy because it will affect how you are viewed as a leader. That was something I saw in the military through different commanders. If you couldn’t make the decision, you shouldn’t be there.”

With the launch of the new sbX rapid transit service only 9 weeks away, much of Diane’s attention is on making sure the line runs smoothly.

“sbX is a bit of a challenge because it’s new and unknown,” she explains. “Our focus is on being prepared, anticipating any issues that might arise and staying flexible so that we can adapt as needed. Right now it’s all about testing, running those coaches up and down, working with traffic lights and station platforms. We’re working on sbX coach operator training next month, so I’m excited for that.”

“Our training team is very good. They had to train themselves on sbX because they have to be the experts. Next they will be training the Field Supervisors, because they must be able to do everything as well. We have to train from the top down. Every possible thing you can think of, we have to be able to do before we can train the operators.”

“That’s why I made sure that I was able to be trained as well. I have to be able to do whatever they’re doing out there. If I can’t do it, I can’t speak to it. And I have to speak to it. I was excited to drive one of the first sbX coaches that came in. I think it’s even smoother than the 40-footer—you don’t feel the bumps in the road quite as much. You’d think there would be a drag, but there’s not. It just glides and follows. Although it’s kind of trippy when you’re making a turn and you see the back end of your coach in the mirror!”

You can read more about Diane and some of the interesting stories from her military career here.

– Juno Kughler Carlson
   juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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San Bernardino Transit Center unites sbX BRT and Metrolink extension

Metrolink Extension and New Transit Center will enhance the connections between Inland Empire transportation systems 

The Metrolink passenger rail extension and the Omnitrans sbX rapid transit service provide new public transit options to Inland Empire residents.

SAN BERNARDINO, CA  – Changing the way people travel throughout the Inland Empire is the goal of two projects that started construction on Tuesday, February 25, following a groundbreaking ceremony in downtown San Bernardino.

The first project is the Downtown San Bernardino Passenger Rail Project (DTSBPRP), which will extend the Metrolink line from the historic Santa Fe Depot one mile east, where it will join with the second project,  the future San Bernardino Transit Center, to be constructed at Rialto Avenue and “E” Street in the city.

These two projects represent a partnership between the Federal Transit Administration, San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), Omnitrans, Metrolink, and the City of San Bernardino.   Speakers at the groundbreaking included Leslie Rogers, Regional Administrator for the Federal Transit Administration, California Transportation Commissioner Joe Tavaglione, SANBAG President Bill Jahn, County Supervisor James Ramos, Omnitrans Chairman Alan Wapner, and Patrick Morris, who is both Metrolink Chairman and City of San Bernardino Mayor.

View more photos from the groundbreaking ceremony on Flickr.

Mayor Patrick Morris welcomed the crowd by stating,  “This marks the culmination of many years of work to bring these transformative projects to construction.  These two projects are examples of how creating intermodal connections between commuter rail, bus rapid transit, and local and regional bus service can provide enhanced benefits to current transit uses and make these travel modes more attractive to future riders in the region.”

Officials at the groundbreaking of the San Bernardino Transit Center

Officials pose with a punch card at the groundbreaking of the San Bernardino Downtown Passenger Rail Project and the San Bernardino Transit Center

Some major changes will occur at the historic Santa Fe Depot, currently the end of the line for the Metrolink commuter train service.  “Modifications at the Depot will create a beautiful grand entrance on the south side of the Depot and a new rail boarding area on the north side of the building,” explained Mayor Morris.  “A tall pedestrian bridge over the tracks will provide safe access for passengers boarding the trains going in either direction. The DTSBPRP will feature the addition of double tracks from the Santa Fe Depot  to the new Transit Center, along with roadway improvements.”

The Transit Center will be a multi-modal transportation hub where  13 local Omnitrans bus routes, the new sbX Bus Rapid Transit service, Victor Valley Transit Authority (buses from the high desert), Mountain Area Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) bus service, and Metrolink trains will all meet when the projects are completed.  The public can transfer from one mode of transportation to another at this hub and go in various directions.  Commuter rail service will eventually be extended nine miles further to the east via the future Redlands Passenger Rail Project. That project is still going through environmental studies.

“This is a great project, which will offer greater convenience and connectivity for the community,” stated Omnitrans Chairman of the Board Alan Wapner.  The Transit Center project represents more than a decade of visioning partnership between Omnitrans and SANBAG.

Members of the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce

Members of the San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce are all smiles at the groundbreaking event.

The Transit Center will include a 7,500 sq. ft. building, 22 bus bays, customer service and pass sales office, security, restrooms, seating,  and shelter.  These amenities have not been available to transit customers in the past at one location.

“Combined costs for the two projects total $128 million, with funds derived from federal  sources ($37 million), state sources ($26.9 million), and local sources ($64.7 million),” stated SANBAG President Bill Jahn.  “Of the local funds, $27 million came from Measure I, the ½ cent sales tax approved by San Bernardino County voters for transportation improvements.”

The Transit Center is expected to be completed in Early 2015, while the Metrolink extension and Santa Fe Depot modifications should be completed by Summer 2016.

To follow the progress on these projects, please refer to the websites of SANBAG or Omnitrans:  www.sanbag.ca.gov   or   www.omnitrans.org.

Jane Dreher, Public Information Officer
San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG)
jdreher@sanbag.ca.gov 

Leslie Rogers of the FTA

Leslie Rogers of the Federal Transit Administration show his support for the groundbreaking ceremony of the future San Bernardino Transit Center.

Test your sbX safety savvy with this quiz

Dedicated center bus lanes and new traffic signs mean new rules of the road. Are you prepared? Test your safety savvy with this short  sbX safety quiz.

Need a little help? Our new safety video gives a quick look at some of the changes you need to be aware of.

Dedicated traffic signals provide faster ride

BRT signal with a vertical bar on a green traffic light. The system senses an approaching sbX vehicle, allowing cross-traffic signals to remain red until it has cleared the intersection.

One of the newer additions noticeable to motorists and pedestrians on the nearly completed sbX corridor are signal lights with a white horizontal bar on top and a white vertical bar below.

The specialized signals are found at various intersections between  E and 10th streets and Hospitality Lane and Tippecanoe Avenue, allowing the 60-foot-long bus rapid transit (BRT) vehicles to travel the corridor in significantly less time than if they were to operate under normal signalization.

Through this system, known as traffic signal prioritization (TSP), the sbX coach sends out a signal received along the corridor. That information is transferred to the city’s traffic control center. Timing is adjusted to keep traffic and the bus moving, said Joe Meidl , a project manager with Griffith/Comet, the joint venture contractor for the construction phase of the sbX project. “It keeps the bus and the general traffic in its direction moving and prevents idling, causing better traffic flow.”

BRT signal with a horizontal bar on a red traffic light. The sbX coach does not have to wait long to enter the intersection once it pulls away from the station.

Locally, The TSP method used by sbX is comparable to the one used in the City of Santa Monica, Meidl said. TSP, along with dedicated lanes that separate the vehicle from the general traffic and fewer stations than fixed-route service (one per mile, on average) contributes to fewer stops and a faster ride.

– David Rutherford
David.Rutherford@omnitrans.org 

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sbX Construction Activities Coming to A Close

Major roadway construction is now complete as streets have been paved and striped along the sbX corridor.

The New Year brings great excitement for the Omnitrans sbX team. Just under two years since the start of construction, major roadway construction is complete. Final work on the construction crew’s to-do list includes installation of station artwork, map cases and graphics of the new system, station seating, plus final landscaping and sign installation to make navigating the corridor easy. We’re so close to start of service that next month you will begin to see buses being tested on the road. With this new activity, it is especially important for motorists to pay close attention to the new rules of the road and to stay out of the dedicated bus lanes.

-Robert Chevez
rchevez@westboundcommunications.com

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Civic Center Park & Ride Helps Business Patrons

Businesses like Kore Skate Shop, 199 N. E St. – which has limited parking in the rear accessible from 2nd Street – will benefit from the addition of a park-and-ride lot on the third floor of the Civic Center parking structure to offset the elimination of curbside parking on E Street.

Two hundred public parking spaces have been made available with the dedication of a park-and-ride lot on Level 3 of the Civic Center parking structure to offset the removal of spaces on E Street for the creation of a transit corridor.

Motorists can enter the structure from the east side of E Street between 2nd and Court streets; the north side of 2nd Street between E and D streets; and the west side of D Street between 2nd and 3rd streets.

A newly dedicated park-and-ride on Level 3 of the Civic Center parking structure will benefit patrons of Big 5 Sporting Goods, Minuteman Press and other E Street businesses.

The use of center-running lanes on E Street for the sbX bus rapid transit (BRT) service has eliminated left turns in and out of driveways between intersections.  Southbound vehicles entering the E Street entrance to the parking structure can make a u turn at 2nd Street or a left turn on 2nd and a left at the 2nd Street entrance.

Left turns in and out of driveways between intersections have been eliminated throughout the center portion of the BRT corridor, from E Street and 10th street north of downtown to Hospitality Lane and Waterman Avenue. To compensate for the loss of left turns, a total of 19 u-turn signals will be added to the corridor. Hospitality Lane between Waterman and Tippecanoe followed these traffic-flow patterns prior to the addition of center-running bus lanes.

–  David Rutherford
   David.Rutherford@omnitrans.org

New U-Turn at Fairway Drive

Last month our sbX newsletter featured an article about the center-median safety barriers that have been installed at various t-intersections along the corridor. The purpose of the barriers are to restrict cars from entering the future “sbX Only” lane. Thank you to all who provided input regarding the safety barriers. In particular, there were a number of accessibility concerns regarding the barrier at MacKay Street on the south end of E Street.

As a result of feedback, drivers trying to access MacKay Street from the southbound direction on E Street can now make a protected u-turn from a newly installed turn pocket at the t-intersection of E Street and Fairway Drive. This change enables motorists to make a u-turn safely and access MacKay Street heading northbound on E Street.

Have thoughts about the project? Contact us any time, toll free, at (855) SBX-NEWS (729-6397).

–  Kelly Koehler
    (kkoehler@westboundcommunications.com)

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