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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, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

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, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

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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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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San Bernardino’s sbX is the easiest ride in town!

Guest blog post and photos by R.A. Contreras

Teens relish that special time when they gain ‘independence’ from mom or dad. Mine came in September 1986 —and it involved a bus.

How thrilled I was that I got to buy my own clothes for school and got to do it myself. So I hopped on the Route 2 and headed over to the now-closed Central City Mall; boy, did it ever feel good to be a grown up for once!

An sbX bus sits in front of the CSUSB campus.

An sbX bus sits in front of the CSUSB campus.

And now, some 28 years later, my love affair with Omnitrans still burns brightly. I never got tired of riding the bus. On those sweltering days (and we have many of them here), the air conditioning feels so good; the price has always been more than reasonable; and it has freed up money that would have otherwise been spent on gas, car repairs, registration, and parking fees. Plus, I have enjoyed meeting many fellow passengers and socializing, especially on the longer trips.

With the opening of the new sbX Green Line, things are being taken to a whole new level. The new route conveniently operates from Cal State University to Loma Linda and offers a fast and extremely convenient service instead of a trip by car and headaches.

The new transit bays are well lit at night, have security cameras and have ticket dispensing machines.

The new transit bays are well lit at night, have security cameras and have ticket dispensing machines.

And since I am a student at CSUSB, the benefits of utilizing the sbX are paid in spades: The days I decide to drive, I can park my gas-guzzling truck in the Marshall Boulevard and “E” Street park-and-ride center, board, and be at school in a mere 7 minutes or so. Gone are wallet-shrinking gas costs, the dreaded fight for parking spaces, and outrageous parking fees. Another perk: I can access my laptop and do some last minute studying thanks to power outlets and free Wi-fi on the coaches. Have I mentioned the ride is free, every day, thanks to the Go-Smart program where most area college students “pay” by swiping their school-issued ID cards? It’s a ‘no-brainer’, especially for us cash-strapped, stressed-out college types.

For others, the new route is beneficial. Fees will remain the same for regular bus route fares. A $4 ‘All-day’ bus pass that can get you anywhere from Yucaipa to Montclair is still one of the best deals out there. There is almost literally no where you cannot go throughout the greater San Bernardino area with Omnitrans’ 30-plus routes that operate seven days a week.

Only about 5 riders currently use the Marshall Blvd. and “E” Park and Ride lot consistently. Hopefully more people will soon take advantage of this great resource in the SB area.

Of course, there are those who have complained about problems with the new route: businesses have lost money during construction; there are closed-off left hand turn lanes; and the fuel storage facility at the Omnitrans’ Fifth Street facility is allegedly hazardous. What I see, though, are the hundreds of dollars I will save on gas expenses alone and hassle-free trips.

If you have never considered riding the bus, why not try the new route now? The reality is that sbX is here to stay. You will undoubtedly pocket extra time and money, ride comfortably, and do your part for the environment. And who knows, your own love affair with bus-riding might begin.

sbX BRT wins over former Route 2 rider

Route 2 rider Guy Berling and his bike on board sbX BRT

Guy Burling was born and raised in San Bernardino and has seen the city go through a lot of changes. In fact, when he first started riding Omnitrans years ago, fares were only a dime!

When our sbX BRT launched on April 28th, Guy saw it as a great opportunity to make history. He grabbed his bike and headed out early in the morning to be one of the first passengers to climb aboard the 6 a.m. sbX bus.  The experience made him an instant fan.

Route 2 rider Guy Berling and his bike on board sbX BRT

“It’s much easier for bikes,” he explains.  “You just roll it on board and have it right there with you. It’s definitely convenient and I like it lots.”

Guy works in air conditioning and refrigeration and normally rides Routes 2 and 5 on his daily commute. Being able to use his regular Omnitrans pass on sbX is a  big plus. He generally purchases a 7-day pass each week to cover his frequent trips.

Route 2 rider Guy Berling and his bike on board sbX BRT

Guy and sbX coach operator Christina Gaeta

“I can’t seem to keep passes in good shape past 7-days,” he shakes his head laughing. “I wear them out!”

Guy enjoys riding sbX and is still amazed at the amount of time it shaves off his work commute. “It saves me about 30 minutes easy,” he explains. “With sbX it takes around 15 minutes to travel between  Little Mountain and Inland Center Mall. It just whizzes by.  On Route 2 it would take about 35 minutes because the bus has to pull over at every stop. This is so much faster. Now I even have time to stop for breakfast if I want in the morning!”

Route 2 rider Guy Berling on board sbX BRT

Although he hasn’t tried it out yet, Guy is also looking forward to using the sbX free Wi-Fi to listen to his Pandora stations. A blues lover, he enjoys relaxing with a little Stevie Ray Vaughn, B.B King and Eric Clapton.

So far, he says his experience with sbX and Omnitrans has been great. His only challenge? “Getting myself to the stop in time!” he laughs.

For more photos of Guy and sbX, visit us on Flickr!

– Juno Kughler Carlson
juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

Route 2 rider Guy Berling and his bike by sbX Little Mountain Station

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Special needs class learns about sbX BRT

The San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools (SBCSS) class at Colton High School recently chose the sbX Green Line as their field trip destination. The class, which concentrates on teaching life skills to special needs students, is made up of nine boys ranging in age from 14 to 22-years-old.

Omnitrans bus stop - autistic class from Colton High

Teacher Kim Snyder has been working with special needs kids for more than 30 years. The boys thrive under her care, reassured by her calmness, firmness and sense of humor. She loves spending time with them and is fascinated by how their minds work. Her goal is to teach them the social and practical skills needed to help prepare them for life as young adults.

Omnitrans bus stop - autistic class from Colton High

“Because they can’t theorize well, they can’t always apply what they are taught in a classroom to real life situations beyond the classroom,” says Ms. Kim. “We have to actually teach these students in the community. If they have the opportunity to learn through actual hands-on experience, it is easier for them to understand and retain that information. Riding sbX was a great opportunity to them to see firsthand how that transit system works and what destinations are along the route.”

sbX VA Hospital Station

The boys were very excited by their first ride on the rapid transit system. The level boarding was both a surprise and immense relief.

“Steps make them a little nervous,” explains Ms. Kim. “Some of them are a little unsteady on their feet and one of them only walks on tiptoes. It can be difficult to deal with the steepness of a step, and they naturally worry about their balance. Having no steps to deal with was a huge bonus for us!”

autistic class from Colton High aboard sbX BRT

The little group sat together at the back of the bus in a semi-circle, which allowed them to see each other’s smiling faces. When they learned about the on-board power outlets and free Wi-Fi, the boys broke into cheers and clapping. They were also amazed to see that people could bring their bikes on board and secure them in the interior bike racks.

sbX center seats

As they rode along, they had a chance to see some of the sbx station platforms, and Ms. Kim pointed out familiar destinations.

“This is totally awesome!” one of them exclaimed.  “It feels like a roller coaster.”

sbX BRT

“The seats are really comfortable, and I like the driver,” said another.

The students had fun trying out the seats in the articulated middle section of the bus which spun whenever the vehicle made a turn. Big grins lit up their faces as they hung onto the armrests.

sbX BRT VA Hospital Station - Colton High Autistic Class

Along the way, they stopped at the VA Hospital station in Loma Linda, where they learned about features like the blue emergency call box, the live customer service help button at the side of each map case and the ticket vending machine where they could buy passes. They even had a visit from Field Supervisor Rick Alverez who took the time to answer a few questions. The class was impressed to discover that Rick had won several awards for driving buses in roadeo competitions and wanted their photo taken with him.

sbX VA Hospital station

The field trip was a huge success, and the boys can’t wait to ride again. Because sbX is so fast, the class can now plan field trips to destinations like Cal State San Bernardino. That was not an option for them before, because the travel time by regular bus was much longer.

But, as Ms. Kim points out, sbX has an even greater impact on her students. It is a valuable resource for them as they enter the job market.

riding on sbx BRT

Many of her students work well in fast food cleanup, doing tasks like wiping down tables and cleaning windows. These fast food restaurants spend a lot of money training high school kids to do these jobs, but they tend to leave after only a short time. Students like those in Ms. Kim’s class, however, will go through the training, be excited and proud to earn their official badge or uniform and go on to work for that company for 50 years. But one of the first things the employer asks about is their transportation needs and whether they can travel independently. The ability to use public transit like Omnitrans and sbX opens up many more opportunities for them.

riding sbX BRT

“Many of our students have employable skills,” says Ms. Kim. “They desire employment but are hampered by their lack of transportation.  Public transportation makes it possible for our students to continue into adulthood with a sense of independence and, as a result, live a higher quality of life.”

See more photos from the class field trip on Flickr!

– Juno Kughler Carlson
 juno.carlson@omnitrans.org 

sbX

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Ride free on sbX during launch week!!

Ride free on sbX during launch week!

Here’s your chance to make history as one of the first riders to climb  aboard sbX rapid transit, the first-ever express passenger service in Inland Southern California!

  • All rides are FREE during launch week, April 28th – May 2nd
  • Hours of operation: 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.  Monday through Friday
  • Service runs every 10 minutes during peak hours (6:00-9:00 a.m. and 3:00-6:00 p.m.), 15 minutes off peak
  • Free Wi-Fi and power outlets are available on board 
  • Station Ambassadors will help guide riders during first 10 service days
  • Accepts the same fares and passes as  Omnitrans local route service
  • Passes can be purchased at ticket vending machines at station platforms (credit and debit only)
  • 4 interior bike racks and 2 wheelchair securements on each vehicle
  • Level boarding at all stations eliminates the need for doorway ramps
  • Stops include major destinations in the cities of San Bernardino and Loma Linda

Remember you’re invited to ride FREE on sbX during between April 28th and May 2nd, so save the dates!

Ceremony To Celebrate Big Win for sbX

sbx completion ceremony

sbX PROJECT PARTNERS CELEBRATE COMPLETION
On April 22nd, Omnitrans and project partners from San Bernardino and Loma Linda will come together  to celebrate the completion of the sbX Green Line – the Inland Empire’s first-of-its-kind bus rapid transit (BRT) service. The 15.7-mile line between northern San Bernardino and Loma Linda marks the start of a new era of intermodal public transit for the region. Launching sbX is a big W-I-N for Omnitrans!

PUBLIC INVITED TO RIDE FREE DURING LAUNCH WEEK
Don’t miss out on being one of the first to ride sbX! Mark your calendar for Start of Service April 28, 2014! Service will run from 6:00 a.m. to 8:50 p.m. and Omnitrans sbX ambassadors will be at station locations along the corridor during the first few days to help you Get on Board!

Kelly Koehler
kkoehler@westboundcommunications.com