Tag Archives: omnitrans

Omnitrans GoSmart a boon for Crafton students

Crafton Hills College GoSmart bus

At the Omnitrans bus stop at Crafton Hills College, students are listening to music, reading and chatting in small groups under the shade trees. Many of them are freshman who are taking advantage of the GoSmart program for the first time. The discount fare program, which is funded by student fees, provides them with unlimited rides on any Omnitrans fixed route using their student ID.

Crafton Hills College GoSmart student bus

Heather uses GoSmart to get to her college classes

Redlands resident Heather is just coming back to school after having taken a year off from classes. She has no idea what she wants to do yet, so she’s focusing on basic credits she needs and courses that interest her—like philosophy. Heather’s taking the bus because she doesn’t yet have her license.

Omnitrans bus at Crafton Hills College

“Both my parents work for the school district,” she explains. “So they can’t really give me a ride. GoSmart works great for me. One of the beauties of the bus is that you don’t have to look for campus parking. Plus I get exercise.”

Crafton Hills college GoSmart student

Kat, a Zoology major, relies on GoSmart as her main transportation

Kat, a  Zoology major, agrees. “I’m in the same situation. My dad lives in Calimesa and my mom lives with me in Redlands. I actually started riding the bus last year because my boyfriend lived in Mentone. It’s easy transport and convenient for me.”

Crafton hills College student

GoSmart rider Aaron Davis studies Kinesiology at Crafton Hills College

Aaron lives in Mentone. He’s studying Kinesiology at Crafton.  “I think the bus is actually helpful for a lot of students. My parents work, and this definitely makes it easier for me to get back and forth to school.”

Crafton Hills go smart student

Gerson Cisneros saves $50 a week by riding the bus to and from school

For Business Administration major, Gerson, GoSmart is all about the savings. “I live in Highland, and it takes me about an hour and 20 minutes by bus to get to campus. I use the time to do homework. Gas is really expensive since I have a truck. I would rather spend a bit more time riding the bus than spend $10 in gas every day. That’s $50 a week I can put towards something else.”

omnitrans student riders

Having the ability to access unlimited rides with just the swipe of a student ID isn’t merely a convenience. It also opens up educational opportunities for many students previously restricted by limited finances and lack of transportation. Together, the Omnitrans GoSmart program and Crafton Hills College are making it possible for students to achieve a quality education and pursue their career dreams.

crafton hills college students catch bus

Buses not in service on Labor Day

omnitrans - no bus service on labor dayOmnitrans offices will be closed and buses will not be running on Monday, September 1st for the Labor Day holiday. Our offices will reopen and buses will resume operation on Tuesday, September 2nd.

Please keep in mind that Omnitrans new fares and service changes go into effect on September 2nd. You can plan ahead with our Guide to September Service Changes which features the new bus book, detailed route information, and frequently asked questions.

Service changes: Online store closure, NexTrip info

omnitrans busNew fares and service changes go into effect on Tuesday, September 2nd.  Maps and schedules, as well as the bus book, will be updated on our website early that morning. Please see below for details on how the switchover will affect NexTrip and our online store.

NEXTRIP
For the first couple of weeks, NexTrip real time bus arrival information may appear to be off in some cases. This is because the technology is based upon historical route information which tells the system how long it takes for a bus to travel from one location to another.  It will take a few days for routes that have undergone significant changes to establish a historical pattern upon which NexTrip can accurately base its arrival predictions. Thank you for your patience as we work through the adjustment.

ONLINE STORE CLOSURE
If you would like to take advantage of the current fare prices and buy passes in advance, you still have a few days left to do so. In order to make the necessary fare updates, our online store will close at 12:00 noon on Friday, August 29th. It will reopen at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 2nd with the new pricing.

Coach operator Cecil Stevens: “People matter”

Omnitrans coach operator Cecil StevensIf you ask Omnitrans coach operator Cecil Stevens what matters most to him in his work, he will immediately have an answer for you.

“Customer service is one of the most important parts of the job,” he explains. “A lot of times when you go someplace, people will treat you like you don’t matter or like they’re too busy to help you out. I don’t like that. People matter.”

Formerly one of our Route 8 coach operators, Cecil is now an sbX driver and coach operator instructor. He emphasizes the importance of keeping a good attitude on the job and taking care of your body. He works out 4-5 times a week in the Omnitrans gym.

“It’s easy to get out of shape when you’re driving,” he says. “You’re sitting constantly. It’s important to get out and walk and exercise every day. It helps out a lot. If I don’t do it, I feel the difference right away.”

Working out is not just about fitness for Cecil. He believes it’s also a great way to clear your head and prepare for a day on the road.

“I try to make sure all my passengers have a good bus ride. I always tell them good morning, good night or have a great day. If they seem upset, I ask if they’re alright. I also pay special attention to first time riders and try to find out where they are going so I can help them out. Then, when I see them on the bus again later, I always ask them how their trip went last time,” he chuckles. “They’re always surprised that I remember them. I want everyone to have a good experience.”

Prepare for the new fares. Buy now, save later!

Buy Omnitrans bus passes before fare change

Omnitrans fares

On September 2nd, Omnitrans fares will increase for the first time in five years. But you can save money now by purchasing extra passes in advance!

Because there will be no change to the actual look of our bus passes, any passes you currently hold will continue to be honored after September 2nd.  It’s a great opportunity to stock up at the lower price!

Once the fare change goes into effect, the price of a one-way bus trip will increase from $1.50 to $1.75 while the 1-day pass rate will rise from $4 to $5.  A 31-day pass will go from $47 to $55.  See the fare table for full rates and details. 

 omnitrans new fares

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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Talking geography & dinosaurs aboard sbX

An sbX ride-along interview with Andrew and Mark Strickert

Andrew Strickert on Omnitrans sbX BRT

I met 4-year old Andrew on his first sbX BRT trip. “It’s really fast!” he grinned.

I offered him a gift from my prize bag if he would let me interview him. He eyed the bag thoughtfully. “Do you have any dinosaurs in there?” he asked hopefully.

I shook my head. “Nope. Sorry, fresh out of dinosaurs. I have a cap, a tote bag or a cell phone pouch.”

“A hat then,” he decided. He pulled it on his head, peering up from under the brim. “I like dinosaurs a lot.”

Andrew and Mark Strickert on sbX BRT

I snapped a few photos and talked a bit with Andrew’s dad, Mark Strickert, a student at Valley College. Thanks to the Go Smart program, Mark gets unlimited free bus rides with his student ID. Although he has a car, he prefers to park it at the Loma Linda Park & Ride and take the bus to school. It saves him money and time.

“It’s also much easier than trying to find parking on campus,” he points out.

Mark told me he used to work for Orange County Transportation Authority doing stops and zones but had decided to head back to school to study geography. His goal is to eventually do urban planning for cities or transit.

“I’ve always been a huge fan of geography, maps, and transit ever since I was a little boy,” he confessed. “I rode the bus by myself for the first time when I was seven. Of course it was a different time and place then. Chicago in the 60s was a lot different from what it is now. But I was always interested in cities and how to get around.”

Andrew Strickert on sbX BRT

He smiled over at his son.  “Andrew’s pretty good at getting around too. He knows when we’re close to home and can tell where he is from places that he recognizes.”

“Do you help your dad out if he gets lost?” I asked Andrew.

The 4-year-old shook his head giggling. “He never gets lost!”

His dad laughed.

Andrew was so excited that it was hard for him to sit still.   He moved from one seat to another between stops to check out the ride.

“So what kind of dinosaur do you like best?” I asked him curiously

“The one that stands up” he answered promptly.

“A T-Rex? He’s a little scary. You must be very brave. I think I prefer the kind of dinosaurs that eat veggies.”

Andrew nodded and turned around to look out the big window for a moment, swinging his legs back and forth.

“I have a dog named Roxie,” he said suddenly.  “She does tricks.”

“Really? What kind of tricks?”

He peered at me over the top of the seat.  “She sits down.”

“Wow. . . That is a pretty cool trick.”

“I know!!’ he said proudly, then added. “Dinosaurs don’t know how to sit.”

He hopped off the seat and went over to join his dad in the articulated section of the coach.

“Whoa!!” he laughed and held on to his head when the driver made a right and the turntable seats spun in a circle. “That was fun!”

“You know,” I said suddenly inspired. “I’ve never met a dinosaur but, if I do, I will have him call you.”

“Yeah?” Andrew looked up interested. “Do you think dinosaurs can talk on the phone?”

“I’m not sure, but if I meet one I’ll ask if he can call you.”

“Cool.” Andrew hesitated for a moment. “Not a big dinosaur though, okay? And not the one that stands up. A little one. Maybe like a baby or something.”

I agreed. “Besides, a big one might accidentally step on me. We’ll stick with little dinosaurs. Anyway it was nice meeting you. Thanks for the interview!”

Andrew grinned, “Bye.”

He grabbed his dad’s hand and the two got up to try out yet another seat.

You meet the most interesting people on board sbX!

This one’s for you, Andrew.

 - Juno Kughler Carlson
  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

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