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San Bernardino Downtown Farmshare & Market a perfect sbX lunchtime destination

San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis purchases fresh produce from a vendor - photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis purchases fresh produce from a vendor

Check out our Flickr album to view more photos of this fantastic sbX destination!

Located on the corner of E and Court Streets beside the sbX Civic Center Station, The San Bernardino Farmshare and Market is held every Thursday between 11:00 and 2:00. It’s the perfect lunchtime destination, and the sbX BRT Green Line can get you there!

California Sunshine Kitchen offers delicious homemade jams and jellies

California Sunshine Kitchen offers delicious homemade jams and jellies

Sign up for the Farmshare or purchase local certified farm fresh produce, delicious cheese, olives, jams, jellies and preserves.

Coyote Produce Stand offers an incredible $3 fruit bowl

Coyote Produce Stand offers an incredible $3 fruit bowl

Enjoy lunch from food vendors such as:

  • Mad House Gourmet Hamburgers & BBQ
  • Mi Casita Tacos
  • Family Fusion – Teriyaki Specialties
  • Sunshine on Wheels – Breakfast Burritos & Sandwiches
Mia Casita Tacos

Mia Casita Tacos

Prices are excellent with most meals ranging around $5 – $6.

A shopper admires crystal windcatchers from Henry and Ellen Wilson

A shopper admires crystal windcatchers from Henry and Ellen Wilson

Many gift vendors are also on hand selling things like Etsy scents, boutique items, crystals, windcatchers, Avon and Tupperware products, and much  more.

The crowd enjoys lunch at the San Bernardino Downtown Farmshare and Market

The crowd enjoys lunch at the San Bernardino Downtown Farmshare and Market

Hop aboard sbX and enjoy the luxury of rapid transit. Help revitalize San Bernardino,  support local farmers and vendors, and enjoy healthy farm fresh options at the same time. Make the San Bernardino Downtown Farmshare and Market a regular addition to your weekday routine!

Lulu's Boite de Bijoux features hats, purses, aprons, jewelry and accessories

Lulu’s Boite de Bijoux features hats, purses, aprons, jewelry and accessories

Check out our Flickr album to view more photos of this fantastic sbX destination!

San Bernardino Downtown Farmshare and Market

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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sbX Coach Operator Steven Newton

Omnitrans sbX coach operator Steven Newton

For coach operator Steven Newton, 2014 has been an eventful year: a Valentine’s Day wedding, a new baby—and a new job as an sbX coach operator!

“I’d always wanted to drive the Artic [articulated coach], but I didn’t want to make the 30 mile commute to San Bernardino,” Steven confessed.  “It was my wife who finally made me decide to apply to be an sbX driver.  With our new baby, she needed me home on the weekends.”

omnitrans sbx coach operator steven newtonSo Steven put in for the position. He had been with Omnitrans for 7 years, and for the last two had been working relief shifts 7 days week on the west side. He felt he had a pretty good record but knew there was also a lot of strong competition for those jobs.  When he found out he made the cut, he was excited.

“I like these vehicles a lot better. The turning point radius is really no different from a 40-footer.  They run smooth and command a different respect on the road.  Passengers are pleasant, although with sbX  I don’t have as much interaction with them since they enter from the rear doors.  I just really need to focus on driving. The hardest part of the job is watching for motorists. It’s a very different experience.”

Because all the sbX drivers came in at the ground floor at the same time and shared the same training and experiences, Steven says they’ve become like family. They understand the challenges of the job and support each other and help out wherever they can.

Omnitrans sbX Coach Operator Steven Newton“Most of us see this as the stepping stone to the revitalization of San Bernardino County,” said Steven. “It starts with the City of San Bernardino and will grow as sbX spreads to more areas. I like the long term plan. They want to bridge the Inland Empire to Los Angeles.  To me, that’s the best move you could make because so many people commute from here to LA and vice versa. The train can only do so much. We’ve got the buses that bridge, but that’s a 3-4 hour bus ride as opposed to an express service that could take you right to downtown LA. There could even be something on the 210 that could get you to Pasadena. These are the ideas the company is trying to bring forth. It’s creating more jobs, more opportunity, and more room for promotion.”

Steven says overall passenger reaction to sbX has been positive.

Omnitrans sbX coach operator Steven Newton

“People respect us. A lot feel we are trying to make things better, especially up at the college.  I had some kids get on the bus recently who asked if I could hold off for a moment because they were doing a school project about the sbX and wanted some pictures. I was like, wow. Go ahead. It made me feel good to know that I was a part of their education. We are helping the community. It’s not just about making money. We’re making a difference. That’s what we’re supposed to do. We’re public servants. We’re supposed to help people who might be less fortunate than others who do have the means, you know. That’s what it’s all about. It may not be perfect. It may not put you in the parking lot, but we’re going to get you where you need to go.”

Steven’s baby boy Ian is now 5-months-old, and he loves being able to devote his weekends to his family.

“It’s a long commute during the week,” he admits. “But I’m so used to it now it just comes and goes. It doesn’t really bother me anymore. Life is blessing me right now and I have a lot to be grateful for.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Omnitrans sbX coach operator graduates

Omnitrans sbX coach operator graduates

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How to ride sbX – what you need to know

Have you ridden the sbX BRT Green Line yet? It’s as easy as 1-2-3!

Check out our video for everything you need to know on how to ride right on sbX!

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

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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