Tag Archives: sbx bus rapid transit

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

 

 

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/ 

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?

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!

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.

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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Construction Ends, sbX Service Launches April 28

Whether you have been following sbX construction since the groundbreaking or are new to learning about the service, we’ve got great news to report! The Omnitrans sbX Green Line Bus Rapid Transit Service launches this month, connecting riders to key destinations between northern San Bernardino and Loma Linda. To prepare for start of service on April 28, 2014, construction crews and project management have been busy finalizing items such as fine-tuning electrical components at station locations and at intersections with Traffic Signal Prioritization, keeping up with landscape maintenance, installing various safety features such as railings to prevent jaywalking, and restriping select roadway along the corridor.

For the most part, minimal construction activities are limited to daytime hours between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.  Traffic control has been lifted along the corridor and you may notice some 60-foot sbX buses driving alongside you at times. As a reminder, buses are being tested and are on the road daily. Important to note, even though construction is winding down, public outreach representatives are still available via the project helpline at (855) SBX-NEWS (729-6397). We’re on board to answer your construction and service related questions until May 2014.

– Kelly Koehler
kkoehler@westboundcommunications.com

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

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Take a virtual sbX BRT station tour

(San Bernardino, CA)    Experience a virtual reality walk through of two of our sbX rapid transit stations taken with a camera phone. Enter the station platform, from the sidewalk to the crosswalk and onto the ramp. Safety first! You can zoom in and pan to view details of the newly completed work. Omnitrans will launch the sbX BRT service in April 2014.

Take a virtual tour of the sbX  BRT Civic Center station at E Street and Court Street.

Virtual tour of the Omnitrans sbX Civic Center Station

Take a virtual tour of the Cal State San Bernardino sbX BRT station.

Virtual tour of the Omnitrans sbX station at CSUSB