Tag Archives: omnitrans

Bridge Program opens new opportunities for the unemployed

With so many in California struggling to find employment, those without an educational degree or technical skill are increasingly finding themselves at a disadvantage.

Now Omnitrans is offering a free training program to encourage people to pursue a career in public transit. Funded by a Workforce Development Grant, the Bridge Program is a series of classes that introduces participants to the transit industry and teaches them how to apply for and successfully secure jobs as coach operators. Each 1-week intensive training program culminates with a job fair where the participants can meet with and submit applications to several different regional transit agencies.

Bridge Program instructor Henry Shields was formerly the Fleet Safety and Training Supervisor for Omnitrans before his retirement in 2011. He believes the program provides a unique opportunity for those who are looking for a lucrative career with long-term job stability.

“Most people never consider a career in transit,” Shields points out frankly. “They aren’t aware of the opportunities that are open to them. Coach operator positions offer paid training, competitive salaries, great benefits and good job security. You don’t have to have a degree or a trade skill. If you have a positive attitude, a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn, then you have the ability to succeed in this field.”

Shields can vouch for this from his own firsthand experience. When he received his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps in 1990, he was surprised at how difficult it was for him to find a civilian job. As a Master Sergeant he had years of experience as a respected training instructor and recruiter, but without a degree, trade or technical skill no one would consider him for a job. Finally he applied for a coach operator position at Omnitrans and began what became a 21 year career in the transportation industry. Thanks to the tuition reimbursement program Omnitrans offers its employees, he was also able to obtain a college degree in Business Management.

“It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” says Shields. “Being able to share the same opportunity with others through the Bridge Program means a lot to me. It has the potential to completely change lives. It also generates public interest in transit as a career path and serves as a valuable recruitment tool for regional agencies.”

Participants in the 1-week Bridge Program will be given a broad overview of the transit industry and the role of the coach operator within the transit system. They will learn about transit maps and schedules, how to prepare a coach for service, how to drive a route, how to deal with difficult people, and how to handle emergencies. They will have the opportunity to experience firsthand what it feels like to drive a coach, thanks to a state-of-the-art virtual reality coach simulator. The participants will also take a short field trip on a regular coach to familiarize themselves with the passenger experience.

“The course is designed to put people at ease and give them the confidence that they can do this,” explains Shields. “It gives them a good orientation to the transit industry and prepares them for the job application process, which can be pretty stringent. Applicants must typically pass an interactive written test, a personal interview, a physical exam, and a background check before even being considered for a coach operator position. The knowledge and skills our participants gain through the Bridge Program gives them a deeper understanding of what’s required of coach operators and better equips them to pursue a career in transit.”

For more information on the Bridge Program please contact Henry.Shields@omnitrans.org

The Bridge Program is a regional transit career opportunity sponsored by the Omnitrans Workforce Development Committee. Members from L to R: Treasury Manager Maurice Mansion, Fleet Safety and Training Supervisor Don Frazier, HR and Safety and Security Director Marjorie Ewing, Director of Internal Audit Services Samuel Gibbs, Operations Director Diane Caldera, HR Specialist Denise Gibson, Bridge Program Assistant Instructor Patricia Dorch, Bridge Program Instructor Henry Shields.

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

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Positive public response to proposed veterans fare

Omnitrans public meeting

Osvaldo Maysonet and Jeremiah Bryant discuss the proposed veteran’s fare

Omnitrans held public meetings at its San Bernardino facility Wednesday to gather comments regarding a proposed fare policy change. The new policy would provide a discounted fare for Veterans and a free fare for Active Duty Military and Uniformed Police and Fire Officers.

Veterans Specialist Osvaldo Maysonet was on hand representing VetLink, an organization which helps connect veterans, active military, and their families with the services and destinations they rely on every day.

“This proposal will have a big impact on affordability for our veterans,” he said. “We have many vets in San Bernardino County who are dealing with low income or no income. Access to affordable transportation will connect them with education, healthcare and employment opportunities and possibly help them to become taxpayers again.”

Maysonet pointed out that there is a huge pride factor in being acknowledged for your service. “Somebody recognizing you for your military service without you having to ask—it really feels good.  The Veterans Committee is very appreciative of this kind of public recognition. We’ve seen the great example with RTA, and how the number of veterans using public transportation continues to climb thanks to their discounted fare.”

He strongly believes that the Omnitrans proposed fare policy will help also raise general awareness of public transportation among local veterans.

“Many of them have never considered taking public transit before,” Maysonet explained. “This will make them consider it and encourage them to become regular riders. And they will tell others. We love sharing with our brothers and sisters about perks that we receive because we’re vets. That spreads like wildfire.”

Omnitrans Service Planning Manager, Jeremiah Bryant said that the public comment response to the proposed fare has been overwhelmingly favorable. “The feedback we’ve gotten from the community is that our military men and women deserve this.  They feel it is a small way we can give back to those who have given so much to our country.”

Omnitrans proposes a discounted fare for Veterans and a free fare for Active Duty Military and Uniformed Police and Fire Officers.

Omnitrans driver earns National Safety Council Award

Omnitrans coach operator John Barnett and CEO P. Scott Graham

Coach Operator John Barnett and Omnitrans CEO P. Scott Graham

This month, Coach Operator John Barnett was presented with the Safe Driver Award of Honor for the Pacific Region by the National Safety Council.  During his 27 year tenure at Omnitrans, John has logged nearly 50,000 hours and 2 million miles of safe driving.

John Barnett began his career here at Omnitrans in 1988 when he was hired as a part time Coach Operator and within a few months he was promoted to full time.  From the very beginning of his career John displayed great pride, enthusiasm and dedication to his job. He took the time to encourage the new hire coach operators with solid words of wisdom and stressed to them the importance of being a safe driver at all times.

Additionally, John devoted himself to providing great customer service to his passengers, accumulating numerous customer service awards and accolades throughout his career.  His very impressive file contained numerous letters from passengers from all ages and walks of life, each praising his kindness, helpfulness and his commitment to going the extra mile to assist them.

“I treat everyone with respect and courtesy,” John says. “That’s important. And my passengers know that I will always do my best to get them to their destination safely and on time.  People appreciate that. I’ve driven the Route 22 for so long now I’ve gotten to know all the regular riders and have even seem some of them grow up from babies. One little girl who used to ride my bus is now my granddaughter’s kindergarten teacher! You really never know where you might run into someone again, but they will always remember how you treated them.”

In 2010 John became an over the road instructor for new hires entering the transit workforce.  To date he has trained over 80 student coach operators and continues to instill in them the required driving skills, work pride, integrity and compassion to serve the public. He is also a long- standing member of Omnitrans Accident Review Committee, providing sound guidance and instruction on safe driving practices and training procedures.

Omnitrans Coach Operator John Barnett Safe Driving Award

Omnitrans Transportation Manager John Steffon, John Barnett and Fleet Safety & Training Instructor Verretta Johnson

John has been recognized as having well over 10 good years of “Customer Complaint Free Quarters” by our Marketing Department.  He has received his One Million Mile Safe Driver Award and is line to receive his Two Million Safe Driving Award at the end of 2014.

John Barnett continues to demonstrate the highest standards set forth by Omnitrans. He is an excellent example of a coach operator and is valued not only by the agency, but by the customers who board his coach each and every day.  He is a man of honor and integrity.  We are proud of his achievement as a recipient of the National Safety Council Award of Honor for the Pacific Region.

John plans to retire in early 2015. “Omnitrans has been a great experience for me,” he smiles. “And I’m going to miss a lot of people when I go.  But I am looking forward to having the time to relax and  do some traveling with my wife.”

We wish him all the best.

-        Veretta Johnson, Omnitrans Fleet Safety and Training Instructor

Proterra electric bus visits Omnitrans

Proterrra Electric Bus visits Omnitrans public transit

Earlier this month, team members from Proterra brought one of their electric buses by our office for a demonstration. Omnitrans employees were invited to tour the bus and learn about the advantages it had to offer.

Proterrra Electric Bus visits Omnitrans public transit

When looking at the typical cost of operating a fleet, numbers are impressive. According to the Proterra website, CNG buses typically get 3.27 MPG and cost approximately 71 cents per mile, while the electric bus gets 20.8 miles MPGe and costs about about 19 cents per mile.

Proterrra Electric Bus visits Omnitrans public transit

With 30% fewer parts, less maintenance is also required on the electric bus. There is no exhaust, no oil, no liquid fuels and 75% fewer brake repairs—all of which add up to savings over time.

Proterrra Electric Bus - view of driver's seat

The biggest downside of the electric bus is that it can only run for 30 miles before requiring a charge from a rapid charging station. It takes about 5 minutes to totally recharge the vehicle.

Proterrra Electric Bus demo at Omnitrans

Is there a place for an electric bus on the Omnitrans fleet in the future?

“At this time we’re putting together a scope of work to have buses replaced,” said Director of Maintenance Jack Dooley. “We don’t know if electric buses will be part of that plan or not.  Right now we’re just interested in gathering information on what options are available to us.”

Proterrra Electric Bus demo at Omnitrans

Visit us on Flickr for more photos from the Proterra electric bus demonstration at Omnitrans!

Omnitrans welcomes new administrative secretary

Christine Vega - Omnitrans administrative secretary

Omnitrans is pleased to welcome aboard Christine Vega, its new administrative secretary. Christine was a longtime employee of the County of San Bernardino, most recently as a secretary for the department of behavioral health. Her extensive experience in the government and business sectors, and exceptional office skills, will be a valuable asset to the Omnitrans team.

Christine has worked as a secretary all her professional life.

“I’ve always loved to type ever since I took typing classes back in high school,” she explains with a smile. “When IBM came out with their selectrics, I was a goner. I was just in love. And it just was a natural progression. After high school I went on to take business classes at Riverside Community College and worked in offices. I think my first job title was junior steno clerk because I also took shorthand. I had to memorize the shorthand dictionary and everything! In fact, I did that for a meeting I was at just yesterday. But what I like now is to sit in a meeting with a laptop. After doing it for so many years, you develop a sort of filter. It comes in your ears and goes out your fingers whether you’re writing it or typing it. Sometimes I can walk out of a meeting and think what did they all say? Then when I sit down and look at my notes, it’s all there.”

Still, if times had been different, Christine confesses her career choice might have been a little more unusual.

“At the time I graduated high school, women were expected to become secretaries, teachers, nurses or something like that. In my heart of hearts I wanted to be an astronaut, but that was unheard of back in those days. The first moon landing happened when I was a teenager, and it was all so exciting. I thought to myself I want to do that. But those doors just weren’t open, not really.”

Now she satisfies her love of travel and adventure by taking trips to Europe with Joe, her husband of 35 years. The two have passed on their passion for exploring places to their 19-year-old daughter Maribeth, who is currently an Airman First Class in the Air Force.

Christine Vega - Omnitrans administrative secretary

Christine decided to come to Omnitrans because she was looking for a different challenge. Interestingly enough it was sbX that first caught her eye and prompted her to look at a career with the agency.

“When sbX went live back in April, all the county employees got emails about it because there was an sbX station right there on Hospitality. I remember reading about it and thinking how cool it was. At the bottom of the email, there was a section on job opportunities with Omnitrans. When I clicked the link, this administrative secretary position was the first one that popped up. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity with great benefits so I applied.”

With just three days under her belt, Christine is already settling in and making her mark.

“Coming down the 215 this morning I was so jazzed about coming to work and thinking about all the different things I would be doing. I was so excited I just flew right past the 5th Street off ramp,” she laughs. “I’m very glad to be here.”

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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Omnitrans proposes discounted fare for veterans, police & firefighters

 

Omnitrans will hold public hearings to gather public comments regarding a proposed fare policy change to provide a discounted fare for Veterans and a free fare for Active Duty Military and Uniformed Police and Fire Officers.

Veteran Fare:
Omnitrans proposes offering Veterans with a discount on the purchases of Local Bus, Express Bus, sbX and OmniGo fares and passes identical to the discount provided to Senior and Disabled riders. This is essentially a 50% discount compared to full fare. No Veteran fare would be offered on Access service. The proposed Veterans fares are: Cash $0.75; Day Pass $2.25; 7-Day Pass $8.00 and 31-Day Pass $27.50.

Active Duty Military & Uniformed Police Officer and Firefighter Fare:
Omnitrans proposes allowing Active Duty Military and Uniformed Police Officers and Firefighters with the opportunity to ride Omnitrans buses for free, excluding Access service.

The proposed fare change will be brought before the Omnitrans Board of Directors for consideration in October 2014. If approved, it will become effective January 2015.

The public is invited to submit comments until Monday, September 22, 2014 by 5:00 P.M. using one of the methods listed below.

BY MEETING:
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Omnitrans Large Lobby Conference Room
1700 West Fifth Street
San Bernardino, California 92411
3:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M.

BY MAIL:
Omnitrans, 1700 West Fifth Street, San Bernardino, California 92411
Attention to Marketing & Planning Department. 

BY PHONE:   Call (909) 379-7150

BY EMAIL:    tembi.morales@omnitrans.org.

BY ONLINE COMMENT FORM:

Omnitrans rider loses wallet on bus 3 times–and gets it back!

Omnitrans passenger recovers lost wallet 3 times

Omnitrans Route 22 passenger Federico Gante has lost his wallet on the bus three times in the past four weeks. Each time it was found and turned in by someone on the bus.

“I don’t know how it keeps happening. I put it into my back pocket, and I guess it comes out of there,” he laughs. “I’m switching to another pocket now.”

Federico has been riding Omnitrans since he came here from Arizona back in February. He takes the bus every day to his job at  Papa Johns over on Pepper and San Bernardino.  

“I’m the Dough Master,” he grins. “Anytime you order a pizza, I’m the guy that makes it for you.”

If you happen to see Federico on Route 22, be sure to say hi and remind him to check his pocket before leaving the bus!

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org