Tag Archives: sbx bus rapid transit

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

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. Do you have a great Omnitrans story to tell?  Let us know!

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

Do you like this story and want to use it for your blog or newsletter? All our stories may be freely re-posted and shared with others!

Have an Omnitrans story of your own to share? Let us know!

 

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

sbX Project Nears Substantial Completion

Crews worked hard to finish the roadway paving and restriping at the Tippecanoe station before the holiday season. One step closer to substantial project completion!

This holiday season, Omnitrans sbX gives you the gift of substantial construction completion. Throughout the month of December, our crews will be working hard to finish all of the major roadway work such as paving and restriping along E Street and major structural work at all of the station locations. Once complete, this will mark the end of major construction along the 15.7-mile bus rapid transit corridor from San Bernardino to Loma Linda.

After the New Year and up to service launch in April 2014, crews will test electrical components and buses, hang new corridor signage, install community-themed art at the stations, replant landscape, and wrap up other odds and ends to complete the project.

– Kelly Koehler
    kkoehler@westboundcommunications.com

E Street Paving Begins; Station Work Resumes

Concrete planters line pedestrian ramp leading to sbX station platform at E Street and Court Street in Downtown San Bernardino.

Major changes are on the way for E Street. To start, the final two station locations at Court Street and at Baseline Street will really start to come together in November. With the station platforms now complete and structure steel erected, crews can focus on installing ticket-vending machines, security cameras and paver tiles on the station platforms.

In addition, the placement of the final layer of asphalt along E Street and Hospitality Lane marks another major sbX milestone. Following completion of paving along Hospitality Lane in early November, crews will move operations to E Street. Crews will work south from the north end of the project. This roadway work will provide a smooth, even ride for motorists.

In order to minimize impacts to residents and businesses along the corridor, paving and restriping activities will take place at night. Intermittent street closures may occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Thank you for your patience during this phase of the project.

–  Kelly Koehler
(kkoehler@westboundcommunications.com)

Paving and landscape-irrigation work has begun on Hospitality Lane between Tippecanoe Avenue and Waterman Avenue. Paving will continue on E Street through mid-November

Schools, non-profits eager for sbX service

Robert Hagen, Director of Volunteer Services with Santa Claus, Inc. of Greater San Bernardino, also is a teacher with the WORC Academy, a partnership between San Bernardino Valley College and the San Bernardino City Unified School District, providing basic skills to help high school grads enter the workforce.

Robert Hagen arrives early Wednesday morning at Santa Claus Inc. of Greater San Bernardino, a non-profit charity providing clothes, books and toys for needy children, where he volunteers as Director of Volunteer Services.

Hagen – also a teacher at the WORC Academy (Working on Real Careers) at Valley College – knows his students will arrive for their assignments at the charity on 6th Street about a mile east of Waterman Avenue. He’s just not sure when.

“If it weren’t for Omnitrans, I don’t know how they would get around,” Hagen said. “They’re looking forward to the rapid-transit service.”

This semester, Hagen works with 12 students who have graduated from high school but are challenged in reading, writing and math. The WORC program, a partnership between Valley College and the San Bernardino City Unified School District, allows them to develop skills that make them hirable to do many of the basic tasks they learn as volunteers.

Most of his students live in the Highland area and public transit is the only transportation they have to get from there to the college on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. They also rely on bus service to get to the non-profit programs – usually on Wednesdays and Fridays – such as Santa Claus Inc., on 6th Street about a mile east of Waterman Avenue; and the San Bernardino Humane Society, near E Street and Orange Show Road.

“My students can walk from Valley College to the Humane Society in less time than it takes to ride the bus,” Hagen said. “There are many organizations they could work for up and down Route 2 but it takes more than an hour to get from the VA to Cal State (San Bernardino). That’s why we’re so excited about this sbX line. It will sure make it easier for them to get around.”

– David Rutherford
david.rutherford@omnitrans.org

Do you like this story and want to use it for your blog or newsletter? All our stories may be freely re-posted and shared with others!

Visit Omnitrans sbX on Facebook
http://facebook.com/omnitrans.sbx