Monthly Archives: March 2012

Biking and Omnitrans help this doula keep life simple

Claremont resident Christine Gatson-Michalak is living the life she loves. Relying on her bike and public transportation allows her the flexibility and freedom she wants and eliminates the expense of maintaining a car.

“My husband and I have been married for 10 years and we like living simply,” said 32-year-old Christine. “We don’t have a car, cable or a DVR. We rent an apartment and have no intention of ever buying property. There are no repairs or upkeep we have to deal with, and it keeps us open to new opportunities. We can move anywhere at any given moment if we choose. And because we don’t have huge expenses, we can work jobs that make us happy rather than having careers that support a lifestyle.”

For the past year and a half, Christine has worked as a doula, a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to mothers before, during and just after they give birth. She describes it as the best job she’s ever had. Her husband works as a musician. Surprisingly, the lack of personal transportation is no obstacle for either of them.

“My husband carpools with a neighbor who plays in the same band,” said Christine. “And I always take clients who live close enough that I can get to them easily. At first clients don’t have any idea that I bike and ride the bus wherever I need to go, but they figure it out pretty quickly. But no one really cares because I am always on time. I once biked 8 miles to get to a birth. If there is an emergency, I can always take a taxi or catch a ride with a neighbor. Having a car is unnecessary.”

Christine also works part-time, handling shipping and customer service for a former doula client and owner of Mountain Mama. The company specializes in outdoor apparel for women designed to adjust to their bodies before, during and after pregnancy. Christina is a huge fan of the clothing line and wears their designs herself. Traveling to the job is no problem. “One of the nice things about public transit is that you can be flexible in the way you travel. I like riding my bike to the Ontario warehouse but it’s a much more difficult ride on the way back to Claremont. I prefer Omnitrans for that.”

Both Christine and her husband love being outdoors as much as possible and enjoy going on adventures. Whether going to a park to play Frisbee or traveling to LA to explore a museum or theater, they are frequent users of both Omnitrans and the Metrolink.

“It was a little difficult convincing him to ride the bus at first,” laughed Christine. “He had the attitude of ‘I’m a grown man! I’m not going to ride the bus!’ Owning a car is such a status symbol in this culture. There’s this strange social misconception that only kids or poor people ride the bus, and that’s just not true. Now he’s perfectly comfortable with it and enjoys the perks. We rode out to the observatory recently and watched as other people had to walk up from a parking lot a mile away while we were dropped off right at the front door!”

Christine offers these tips to other Omnitrans cyclists: “Plan ahead and try to get to your stop an hour early. Since there are just two bike racks on each bus, it leaves you time to bike over to another stop if the racks are full. I always have my bus book or smart phone on me so I can check for alternative routes. If your bike has thin tires, bring a bungee to help secure it. The racks are designed to accommodate thicker tires, so bikes with thinner tires tend to wobble–especially if driver has to break suddenly. The Omnitrans drivers are  pretty friendly and can also answer questions if you need help. ”

To learn more about Christine and her doula services visit her website at The Village Doula.

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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Congratulations to our 1 Millionth Go Smart Rider!

Buster and the crew were on hand to surprise the one millionth Go Smart rider, Daniella Elia, as she was getting off the Route 80 bus at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucamonga this morning. The 19-year old student lives in Montclair and is studying to become a registered nurse. She also works as a medical assistant.

She was excited to be greeted by Buster as she stepped down from the bus.  The crew presented her with balloons, an Omnitrans tote bag stuffed with goodies and framed gift certificates totaling $100.”I wanted those balloons the moment I saw them!” laughed Daniella giving the mascot a hug. “You guys have made my day!”

This is Daniella’s first semester at Chaffey College, and she is a big fan of the Go Smart program which gives her unlimited rides with her student ID. She relies on the bus not only for school, but for work as well. “I was so excited when I found out I could ride for free. It’s pretty cool, because I always had to pay for a bus before,” she said. “It saves me a lot of money. And I can get my class reading done while I ride!”

Over the next two weeks, students at Chaffey College will be voting on whether or not to approve a $7.50 student transportation fee that will enable the Go Smart program to continue for the 2012/2013 school year. For more information, visit the Omnitrans website.

To view more pictures from our One Millionth Go Smart Rider celebration, visit us on Flickr.

Route 61 Detour scheduled due to Speedway Race

It’s off to the races at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana this weekend! Here’s the scoop on the detour Route 61 will be using during this event on Saturday, March 24th and Sunday, March 25:

From Ontario Mill
Left on Milliken
Right on Interstate 10 eastbound
Exit Citrus
Right on San Bernardino
Back to regular route from here

Left on Citrus
Right on Interstate 10 westbound
Exit Milliken
Right on Ontario Mills
Back to normal route from here

Counting down to the 1 millionth Go Smart Rider!

The countdown has begun to find the one millionth Go Smart rider. We know roughly when we will find that special person. We even have an idea of the general area to look. But we don’t know yet who it is. Could it be you?

Buster and his Omnitrans crew will be waiting at a super secret bus shelter for the final countdown with balloons and special gifts. And no, we are not going to tell you the gifts. It’s a surprise. Anyway, stayed tuned  for more info.

Since its inception, the Go Smart program has provided hundreds of thousands of trips for college students in San Bernardino county. After all, getting unlimited rides with your student ID is easy, inexpensive and just plain smart. And the fact that you can get your studying done during the ride gives you more time to enjoy those other things you’d rather be doing when you get home. Score!

So kudos to you one millionth rider, whoever you are. And to all you other savvy Go Smart students. We’re glad to have you along for the ride!

When and where will we find our one millionth rider? Stay tuned for more info!

Transplanted executive relies on iPhone and Omnitrans

New Omnitrans rider, Bert Chancellor moved here from Indiana at the end of January to accept a position with Loma Linda University Medical Center.

Moving from one state to another is a big change, and learning to get around a new city can be challenging. Discovering Omnitrans was a pleasant surprise for this executive.

“Because I didn’t know what kind of transit system was in place here, I used a rental car the first couple of days to scout out the area,” said Bert. “I was pleased to find that there were Omnitrans stops almost everywhere, which made it very easy for me to get wherever I needed to go. After two days, I turned in the rental car and have been using public transit ever since.”

The experience is a big change from what he is used to. “In Indiana, the process was much more difficult,” he explained. “I tried to use the bus service when I could, but there were only four or five routes and the coverage was absolutely terrible. The buses ran once every hour from seven in the morning to six at night. It’s so much easier here to get around.”

A technology buff, Bert also likes the fact that he can use his iPhone to find out route information. “The bus option on Google maps is really useful. I just plug in my location and destination, and it shows me the schedule times and bus stops along that route. It’s much easier than trying to navigate using the bus book. It makes it very simple to plan your route.”

Bert is looking forward to having the family together again this summer. His wife recently joined him and his two teenage boys will be coming out this summer once they are done with school. It’s hard being apart, but the family uses Face Time every night to spend time together and catch up on the day.

His experience with Omnitrans has been so good that Bert has made the decision to just keep one family vehicle and get rid of his second car. “It’s better for the environment, and I like the idea of giving back to my community by not putting another car on the road.”

What will his 16-year-old son think of his decision? Bert laughs, “It is what it is.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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!

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

Coach Operators’ Story An Inspiration to Others

Back in February we did a story on Omnitrans coach operators Larry and Marianne Rose who have been married for more than 16 years. The post was later picked up by The Press-Enterprise and published on Valentine’s Day.

In response to the article, the Roses received a letter from Senator Bill Emmerson, congratulating them on their service with Omnitrans and their love and devotion to each other through so many years of marriage.

“We were very surprised to receive the letter,” said Marianne. “It felt amazing to be recognized in that way. Our little story has reached so many people and the feedback has been incredible.”

In the article, the Roses had talked about Marianne’s battle with uterine cancer and how she was paying it forward by talking with other cancer patients at Loma Linda University Medical Center.

“My doctor saw the article and started sharing it with his other cancer patients. I told him I’d be happy to talk to anyone who might want support from someone who had been through the process,” said Marianne. “That’s been the best part of this for me–being able to help make a difference to others. I’ve even had passengers come up to me and tell me about their own battles with cancer. I’m glad to be able to be there for them.”

Marianne wanted us to assure everyone that the PET scan she had to undergo on Valentine’s day came back fine and that she is doing well. “It’s all because of Him,” she smiled, pointing upward. “And I feel very lucky to be able to keep paying it forward by helping others.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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!

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

Bus Helps Student Nurse Pursue Her Dream

Crystal Lemus has big dreams for her life. And Omnitrans is helping her get there.

A 21-year-old student at Riverside Community College, Crystal is studying to be a registered nurse. She is fluent in English, Italian, German and Spanish. She’s an avid reader, a lover of Greek mythology and enjoys drawing—especially portraits of people. People fascinate her, and she likes sketching their faces.

In fact, her passion for people and desire to help others is the driving force behind her ultimate goal: to work for Doctors Without Borders. Applicants to the organization must pass strict requirements, including a two-year psychological assessment to help ensure their emotional stability when dealing with the issues that arise in war-torn countries. But the thought of serving in a third world country doesn’t make Crystal at all nervous.  She’s committed to her dream. Her mom died when she was 13-years-old, and she spent two years growing up in foster care. “It really made me want to help people who didn’t have the same opportunities as everyone else,” said Crystal. “We take health care very much for granted in this country. But there are people all over the world who just don’t have the same opportunities and many die because they don’t have health care available to them. I want to help make a difference.”

Crystal has been riding Omnitrans since she was 18. As a full-time student, she relies on it to get her back and forth from her home in Colton to Riverside Community College five days a week. “It saves me hundreds of dollars,” said Crystal. “Before I started using Omnitrans, I had to try to find other students to catch a ride with and pay them $20 to cover gas. On top of that, I was always worried that they might not be on time and I’d be late for class. It was very stressful. Now I just buy a bus pass and it’s so much cheaper. It saves time and gives me the independence to be able to come and go as I need to. I’m also more disciplined in my schoolwork now because I can use the travel time to study or read my anatomy book. I can focus more.”

The bus has also offered some surprising opportunities to put her studies into practice. “About two years ago I was on Route 14 to Fontana when the man sitting in front of me started holding his chest and complaining of pain. He fell forward and started seizing. I ran over to him and held him to keep him from hurting himself. I rolled up a tight tube of paper and used it to keep him from biting his tongue while still giving him space to breath. The paramedics arrived pretty quickly and thanked me for helping him. You never really know when something like that is going to happen and it feels good to have the skills to handle it.”

Crystal recommends Omnitrans to other students as a great way to save money and offers these tips for new riders. “Be sure to check bus schedules in advance so you know which routes will get you where you need to go. If you’re traveling at night, it’s also important to know when the last run is so you don’t get stranded somewhere with no way to get back. The bus drivers are really nice and good about helping when you have questions.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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!

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

Route 66 Returning to Service

On Monday, March 19th, Route 66 is coming off the long-term detour and returning to service on Foothill Blvd. between Grove and Vineyard.

Re-opened stops:
Foothill & Grove
Foothill & Baker
Foothill & Highridge
Foothill & Vineyard.

Bus Stop Closures Due to Construction

A construction project taking place on San Bernardino Road in Fontana, between Fontana Avenue & Hemlock going westbound will be impacting Omnitrans riders.

The stops at San Bernardino & Beech Westbound far side will be removed.  Westbound stops at Fontana and Hemlock will be closed during construction activities but will be available after construction hours.  We are posting kiosks at these two stops indicating the temporary closures during construction and letting riders know that alternate stops are available at either Poplar or Live Oak.  This construction project is scheduled to last for approximately 3 months.

Student rider passionate about politics and public transit

Matthew Munson is a 32-year-old re-entry student who is working on his prerequisites in education at Chaffey College. His goal is to be a history teacher for 7th-12th graders.

Matthew has a passion for politics and ran for the State Assembly when he was just 23-years-old. He’s also written letters to the editor encouraging people to use public transit. He believes that one of the best ways to rally people around a cause is to give them firsthand experience of what it means. “It’s especially important for decision-makers to understand the needs of the people they represent,” said Matthew. “For example I think your bus agency board members should all ride the bus for a day to experience a day in the life of an Omnitrans rider.”

An experienced rider, Matthew has been using public transit almost exclusively for the past 15 years. He rode between Ontario and the University of California at Riverside (UCR) for 2 years when he was a political science major back in 2003. “It was before Riverside Transit Agency had their express bus service. My day used to start at 5 in the morning and I’d get home around 9:00 at night. It was a long commute, but I was able to get all my class reading done on the bus,” said Matthew. “It worked for me.”

Now his commute is only 5 hours a week, and he is able to take advantage of the GoSmart College Pass program which allows him to ride for free with his student ID. He hopes the program will receive the support it needs to in order to continue. Chaffey students will be voting in early April on whether or not to fund the program through a $7.50 transportation fee as part of their registration.

“It’s a win for all the students,” Matthew pointed out. “Those of us who use the service are able to save a lot of money. It used to cost me about $35 a month to ride the bus, which may not sound like much, but the savings definitely add up. Even students with cars benefit from the program because there’s less competition for parking—something that’s always a premium on a college campus. It’s also a great backup for students when their car breaks down or they can’t afford the gas.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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!

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