Tag Archives: sbx brt

Zimbabwean student talks transit & sbX

Hunts Station photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

Cal State student Simbarashe Peresch at the sbX Hunts Lane station

Grand Terrace resident Simbarashe Peresch has been riding Omnitrans and sbX since he first arrived here from Zimbabwe on September 17th. He is currently enrolled at Cal State University San Bernardino where he is majoring in biology. Thanks to the Go Smart program, Simbarashe is able to get unlimited bus rides using his student ID. We caught up with him at the Hunts Lane station and asked what he thought about the sbX rapid transit line.

He told us he liked how quickly sbX gets him to campus. He was also impressed by the roominess, air conditioning and onboard Wi-Fi.

“It’s very different from Zimbabwe,” Simbarashe explains with a broad smile. “where I come from, we have much smaller buses that only hold about 15 people.  And it costs only 50 cents to ride!”

“Also I’ve noticed here that there is not that much of a distinction between cities,” he continues. “You can pass from Redlands into Loma Linda without knowing it. In my country there are vast lands of field between cities that separate them. You know immediately when you are out of town.”

He points to the art glass on the station windscreen beside him. “The designs of stations here are very beautiful too,” he grins. “Traveling here has been a very different experience for me. I very much like riding sbX.”

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

OmniTrans = Independence

A guest article written by Connie Jones, blogger for So I’m Legally Blind
Connie on her Omnitrans sbX bus ride

On my sbX bus ride

To me, the title of this post says it all! Without public transit, I wouldn’t have been able to go to school, work, the store, appointments etc. I’ve been legally blind since birth, and have never been able to drive.  So, like every independent visually-impaired girl, I hopped on the bus. Via the Omni, I was able to attend San Bernardino Valley College, and continue on to UC Riverside to complete my degree.  I’d catch the Omni at 6:30 AM and catch a couple of transfers to get to UC Riverside.  It took some serious time, but I did it!  With the help of Omnitrans, I was able to accomplish my goal of an education, meet some very interesting people and I learned that I can get to places on my own.  That meant the world to me!

Pointing at the customer service call box at the sbX station

Pointing at the customer service call box at the sbX station

Yes, Yes, I know, the bus can’t possibly be like driving a car, but for me, it allowed me to be independent. I’ve always imagined, ultimately, that’s what driving a car must feel like…the ability to get from one point to another.  I always remember how inexpensive it was for a day pass, and because I also had the disability identification card, it cost even less. I always ask if there’s a disability discount and Omni has always had that option.  Granted it did take time to get places, even using the Omnibus, but now they have the very nice sbX bus that bus is faster, has fewer stops, and is just plain awesome!

sbX ticket vending machines are also labeled in Braille

sbX ticket vending machines are also labeled in Braille

I work at the local university and they have a great rideshare program that has allowed me to catch a ride to work with one of my dearest friends. I’m a counselor who works with physically and visually-impaired students and I’m always talking to them about public transit options.  Luckily, I get to provide information about the Omnitrans Access Service for people with disabilities and now the sbX bus. Lack of transportation and providing information for individuals with visual impairments is one of the reasons why I started my blog, So, I’m Legally Blind.

Looking at the fare box with a day ticket

Looking at the fare box with a day ticket

Through my blog, I recently met Juno Carlson, a wonderful lady who does the Omni blog and we spent the morning on the sbX bus.  I loved it!  It has easy wheelchair access and tie downs for the wheelchairs. It also has several outlets where you can charge your phone, tablet and laptop. Very convenient! The machine where you pay is easy to read with large letters, has voice capability and is in Braille.  I really liked the large letters on the overhead board that provides transit info, etc.  Now, if I wanted to move, I could just catch the sbX and get to work faster.  Granted, the stops are fewer, but the sbX has stops in my area.  Every Omni bus driver I met couldn’t have been nicer.

Looking at the outlet that’s on the sbX for laptops, phones, tablets etc

I’m so grateful that Omnitrans was available to me when I was going to school and work. Now if I need to use the bus in the future….sbX awaits!

With the sbX coach operator

]With the sbX coach operator

 

 

Cyclist commutes successfully on 2, 4, or 6 wheels

This transit advocate enjoys the flexibility of combining his bike with the bus or sbX for local trips

“I take the bus whenever I don’t feel like sweating too much on my bike,” laughed Loma Linda resident Marven Norman when we caught up with him for a phone interview. “As a matter of fact, I’m on the sbX right now!”

An avid cyclist, Marven is also Vice President of the Inland Empire Biking Alliance. The group was formed to unify the cycling community to have a stronger voice in promoting bicycling for transportation and recreation.

“Right now the Inland Empire is one of the worst places for bikes. And it’s hard on drivers too,” said Marven. “Part of what we do is work with area agencies to improve the biking environment in our community with bike trails, bike lanes and other amenities.”

Marven has a strong interest in transit, from bikes and buses to trains and planes. He educated himself on transit planning issues a few years ago when looking into the possibility of new bike lanes.

“I realized pretty quickly that there was a bigger picture to be considered. It wasn’t just about putting paint to pavement. From that I also developed a strong interest in sustainable living and urban renewal.”

His first experience with Omnitrans was as a Valley College student in the Go Smart Program, which provided students at participating colleges with unlimited rides with their student ID. He liked the fact that he could save money and not worry about the hassles of campus parking.

Later he went on to get his Bachelors in Psychology from Cal State San Bernardino and now works as a substitute teacher for the San Bernardino School District. Although he owns a car, he still often favors a combination of bike and bus to get where he needs to go.

He believes more people would consider switching to bikes if more bike lanes were available, because it’s a fast and simple way to get around for quick trips. And for longer distance travel, challenging terrain or bad weather, it can be easily combined with the bus. With California’s recent approval of triple bike racks for buses, along with new bus rapid transit (BRT) coaches that offer interior bike racks, public transportation in the Inland Empire is slowly becoming friendlier to cyclists.

There’s also a growing sense of community among cyclists themselves, and many of them lend a hand to each other when riding the bus.

“If two of us get to the bus at the same time, we’ll usually talk and figure out who will be getting off first so we can set up the bikes accordingly. It makes it easier to unload your bike that way,” said Marven. “And sometimes on the bus when I see other cyclists trying to board and the racks are full, I’ll get off and bike to my destination. Most of the time I’m not going that far, and I can get there just as quickly on my bike. I’m also not intimidated by traffic like some cyclists, so I really don’t mind.”

As for the future, Marven is looking forward to Omnitrans’ development of the West Valley Connector Corridor. In addition to more BRT coaches, he hopes to see more bike improvements in the area.

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

Do you like this story and want to share it on your blog or newsletter?  All of our articles may be freely shared with others.

Have a great Omnitrans or sbX story to share? Let us know!

Friends Ride Free Fridays on sbX

Friends Ride Free Fridays on sbX

Every Friday in October and November, paying sbX passengers can bring a friend along for free! Why? Because riding is always more fun with two!

It’s the perfect opportunity to grab a quick lunch along Hospitality Lane with a co-worker, take in a matinee with your child at the Regal Cinema , or do a little shopping with your best friend at Inland Center Mall.  Best of all, you don’t have to worry about traffic or parking.  You and your friend can simply relax and have a great conversation while enjoying the luxury interior of our sbX coach.

Pedro is a student and part time DJ, and his friend Lexy works at a local restaurant. They regularly travel together on sbX and say that it’s a very different experience from the normal Omnitrans coaches.

“You get a different type of rider on sbX,” says Pedro. “There’s a lot of professionals and students. It’s also fast. We save hours in travel time each day between all our trips.”

friends ride free fridays on sbx

Lexy nods, “True. It’s convenient because it stops close to most of the places we go to. And I like the outlets and free Wi-Fi.” She laughs. “I’m always looking for a place to charge my phone!”

So how does “Friends Ride Free Fridays” work?  It’s simple.

  • The free rider must be accompanied by an sbX passenger with a valid pass or proof of payment.
  • Both riders must board and exit together.
  • The offer is exclusively for our sbX Green Line service, and not good on Omnitrans, OmniGo or Access buses
  • Friends Ride Free Fridays runs through October and November 2014

So grab a friend next Friday and treat yourselves to a first class trip aboard sbX. You both deserve it! For more information visit our sbX page at http://www.omnitrans.org/services/sbx/ 

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter: sbX dispatcher Robert Avant

Omnitrans sbX dispatcher Robert Avant

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Robert Avant is a man of many talents: artist, writer, musician, coach operator, coach operator instructor and relief dispatcher. But with our BRT launch last April, he claimed a new title for himself as the “Maestro” of sbX.

One look at the sbX dispatch monitor, and it’s easy to understand the musical reference. A symphony of 60-foot coaches moves in sequence along the route, carefully guided by the dispatcher to ensure proper rhythm and flow. If the vehicles start to bunch in one area or a gap begins to separate them, the dispatcher must coordinate their movements to bring them back into balance.

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Robert Avant

Robert Avant with Director of Operations Diane Caldera

“sbX is based on frequency rather than on time points, and there are many factors that come into play to affect the system,” points out Robert. “Traffic patterns and passenger load can change the timing of a vehicle. A coach operator who is transporting two wheelchair passengers, for example, will need extra time for loading and unloading. Traffic backed up at an intersection or unexpected detours can also cause delays. Every day is something different, but that keeps it interesting.”

Robert’s skills were put to the test during the initial launch of the sbX BRT service, when the system faced several unexpected challenges. The Traffic Signal Prioritization (TSP) system did not work as expected, delaying many articulated coaches along the corridor. In addition, not all Global Positioning Systems (GPS) were functioning correctly. This caused coaches not to appear, or appear inaccurately, on the dispatcher’s corridor map monitor.

Omnitrans sbX dispatcher Robert Avant

This made Robert’s job as sbX dispatcher incredibly difficult. He maintained clear communication with coach operators, field supervisors, management and other departments to keep them apprised of the issues. He worked as best he could with dispatch’s GPS tracking system and radio to locate and track each coach along the corridor. When he identified a delay or coach bunching, he quickly coordinated with Operators to put them back on time to meet the riding public’s expectations.

Robert also helped create a monitoring system within a detailed sbX Dispatch Daily roster form to track and maintain service reliability and to ensure that shift exchanges and meal breaks occurred as expected. Once the system was up and running, Robert quickly and effectively cross-trained other dispatchers on these sbX dispatching procedures, broadening the department’s flexibility and reliability in coverage and increasing efficiency when dealing with unplanned absences, illnesses or emergencies.

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Robert Avant

A few members of our wonderful dispatch team: Ed Cooney, Mark Bueche, Robert Avant and Ronnie Davis

“Before this system was put into place, we were trying to track information on seven different forms,” explains Robert. “There was no centralized resource for information. Now everything is recorded in one place so we can quickly see what needs to happen and what availability is at any given time.”

“Robert played an important role in jump starting the sbX system when it went live in April,” says Omnitrans Director of Operations Diane Caldera. “His contributions and problem-solving abilities helped ensure that the sbX service we provide is the sbX service that was advertised. We are so proud to honor him as Employee of the Quarter.”

Omnitrans Employee of the Quarter Robert Avant

Although he loves the variety and demands of dispatch, Robert also enjoys the personal connections he makes as a coach operator instructor. “I like helping people build their confidence and develop their skills. I try to create an atmosphere of trust where they feel comfortable learning. My policy is what happens on the bus during training stays on the bus. I’m not going to yell at anyone or later tell a supervisor that they asked a stupid question. There are no stupid questions.”

Creativity and spirituality are a huge part of Robert’s life. In his private time, he sketches portraits and paints still-life scenes. He’s also working on a self-help book, “Becoming The Best You.”

“I believe any challenge can be overcome,” says Robert. “It just takes dedication, discipline and the desire to succeed.”

Omnitrans sbX dispatcher Robert Avant

Do you like this story and want to share it on your blog or newsletter?  All of our articles may be freely shared with others.

Have a great Omnitrans story to share? Email Juno Carlson at juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Reviving Passion challenges others to pay it forward

Reviving Passion’s goal is to get every person to find their passion and use it to give back to their community. Even if it’s just in a small way, everyone can make a difference.

For their first project, the guys surprised sbX BRT riders by paying for their bus passes. Sound awesome? You bet! Watch the video to see what happened next.

You can support Reviving Passion’s pay it forward project by watching and liking their video, subscribing to their channel and sharing with your friends ( hashtag #yougave).  Their project depends on people watching and clicking, so the more you watch the more they give! 

How will you revive your passion and give back to others?

Can we turn a non-rider into an sbX fan?

Mary and Jackson sbX BRT

Could we actually convert someone who is not normally a bus rider into an sbX fan? That was the question we set out to answer that question this week with a special tweetup aboard sbX.

It all began with this Twitter conversation.

Tweetup aboard sbX

Cloud9_72 is the Twitter handle for Inland Empire native Mary Risner. Mary takes a strong interest in community news and closely follows local reporters, law enforcement and politics on social media. Her husband works at the Department of Water, and the couple has a 10-year-old son named Jackson. When Jackson was three, he was diagnosed with autism, and Mary put aside her career as a school tutor to focus her energies on being a full time mom. She also connects with other parents of autistic kids online, helping them find the resources they need.

Omnitrans sbX BRT mom and son

Mary agreed to take us up on our offer of an sbX tour. I met her and Jackson at the Palm and Kendall Park and Ride where they were admiring the artwork on the glass station panels and checking out the ticket vending machine.   I asked them what they thought so far.

Jackson’s blue eyes looked anxious. “I’m a little worried because I’ve never ridden a bus before, except for a school bus.”

“Not a problem” I reassured him. “I am going to be your own personal escort and ride along with you and your mom. You won’t have to worry about a thing. I even have passes and goody bags here for you guys.”

He smiled and started digging into the bag I offered him. “Thanks!”

Mary pointed to the bottom of the map case. “I was trying to figure out the route, and the map was scaring me a little. It covers a huge area and it looks like it would be easy to get lost.”

“Actually that the map for the entire Omnitrans system,” I explained. “You’re right. We have a big service area, so it can be a little intimidating at first. We’re taking the sbX line which is pretty much a straight shot from here to the Loma Linda VA Hospital. The sbX coaches travel down the E Street corridor and back up again in a continuous loop.”

Mary smiled. “I think I can manage that.”

I snapped a few photos of her and Jackson beside the sbX coach. “Hold up your ticket for the picture, mom,” Jackson urged her.

We all laughed.

“I’ve only ridden a bus one time back when I was in high school,” Mary confessed. “And it wasn’t a good experience. I was so shaken up by it that I decided I would rather walk the three miles between my house and the school rather than ever ride again.”

“Let’s see if we can change your mind,” I told her. “Ready to go guys?”

We climbed aboard, and I showed them how to insert their passes into the farebox. Walking up the aisle, they were all smiles as they looked around them.

“It’s actually really nice,” said Mary sounding surprised.

Jackson made a beeline for the center of the vehicle. “Look at the high seats, mom! I want to sit there!”

Pulling out of the station, we made our way to Loma Linda. Jackson was excited as Mary pointed out familiar landmarks along the way: restaurants and malls, schools where she used to tutor, places where family friends work, and restaurants they might want to visit.

The two also liked seeing the different art at the stations we passed. Mary was particularly drawn to the Hunt’s Lane station display “Setting The Table” which featured vintage looking dinner plates on a glass panel.

“They look like real dishes in the glass!” she marveled.

As we pass by a car repair shop, Mary told me her husband had ridden sbX himself recently when he had to drop off his car to be fixed. Instead of waiting around the shop for two hours, her rode sbX over to a local restaurant to get a bite to eat. He thought the coach was nice and liked the fast travel time.

At Loma Linda we got off at the Park and Ride to have lunch at the BK Subs next door.

We chatted about our families, pets and our plans for the summer.

“With school out, we’ve been looking for things to do together that don’t cost a lot of money,” Mary told me. “Riding the bus today has been like a little adventure for us. What do you think, Jackson?  Maybe we could take sbX and meet dad at his office for lunch sometime? Or maybe the three of us could take a trip to Inland Center Mall and go to Chuck E. Cheese.”

Jackson grinned, “That would be fun!”

After lunch we board sbX to head back. I find out that Jackson is an avid gamer. He was excited to learn that I’m an angry bird fan and that the red bird is both our favorites. He loves Mario, Q-Bert, Pokemon and all the classics.

“He makes Youtube videos about some of his favorite characters,” Mary told me proudly. “He draws them and makes up stories about them. He’s a really talented artist.”

This was the perfect opportunity to talk to them about some of the features sbX has to offer tech savvy riders. I pointed out the overhead power outlets that can be used to charge small electronics and informed them there was free on board Wi-Fi.

“No way!” exclaimed Jackson practically bouncing with excitement.

He and Mary immediately pulled out their devices to give it a try.

“So what do you think? Have we made an sbX fan out of you?” I asked Mary. “Do you think you’d come back on your own and ride again?”

She laughed. “Yes, it was a lot of fun. And I can relax and hang out with Jackson instead of having to focus on driving. Next time I’ll bring my husband with us, and we can do a family trip. Maybe I can figure out how to take the regular Omnitrans bus to get here instead of driving.”

“That’s easy enough. Just call our customer service center, tell them where you are and where you want to go and they’ll help you plan your trip.”

“Wow, I didn’t know you guys did that. Thanks!”

As we arrived back at Palm and Kendall, Jackson suggested I take one more picture. He’d been having fun during the trip coming up with poses for me and took his job as a model very seriously. “I call this one ‘The Thinking Man,’” he said, propping his hand under his chin and elbow on his knee. “It’s a famous statue.”

“I know that, but I’m surprised that you know that,” I laughed. “You are one smart guy. Thanks for modeling for me.”

“You’re welcome.”

We all hugged when we disembarked, feeling like old friends.

“Thanks so much for the trip. We had fun!” said Mary.

As our two new sbX fans walked down the station, I pulled out the camera again. “Hey Jackson!” I yelled. “One last time!”

Jackson turned around on cue and gave a wave at the camera. A good model always knows how to strike a pose.

- Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Do you like this story and want to share it on your blog or newsletter?  All of our articles may be freely shared with others.

Have a great Omnitrans or sbX story to share? Let us know!