Saundra Baxter has worked for Omnitrans for the past 4 years. But surprisingly it was her daughter Alisa who lead the way, when she joined the agency in 2004 as a coach operator. “My friends who worked for the company had been constantly after me to apply. Finally on my 21st birthday, one of them showed up with an application in hand and insisted I fill it our right then and there,” laughed Alisa. “So I did.” The fact that Omnitrans provided professional training and a good income was actually very appealing to the 21-year-old who had been working $7.50 jobs up to that point.
“It’s never boring driving a bus. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m a people-person,” said Alisa.”You have to be that way in this job. You can’t take it out on people just because you’re having a bad day.”
Mom Saundra had a background in business management and real estate. For her the appeal of working for Omnitrans was a little different. “I was here 25 years ago when San Bernardino was thriving, and I’ve seen it go through a lot of changes. It makes me proud to know that the company I work for is playing an important role in the revitalization of this area. Omnitrans, city officials, business owners, fire and police departments, construction workers–everyone is helping to make history right now. When the new transit center is built and the sbX Rapid Transit bus is up and running, we will be able to say that we helped make it happen. I find it very exciting to be part of that!”
Saundra is also proud to be the reigning Roadeo Champion in the Novice division at Omnitrans, a honor she won when she competed in a complex obstacle course against other employees. Neither Saundra or the other employees had ever driven a bus before. She was scared to death, but managed to perfectly back up twice, park twice, and drive through sets of golf balls without disturbing them.
“It was crazy,”said Alisa shaking her head. “She went through the whole course and hit nothing. Nothing. I’ve been driving for years and I know I would have made at least one of those little golf balls go rolling! Then again she’s always been a really slow driver.” Her mom takes the teasing in stride. After all, she has the trophy!
Both women agree that driving is in their family’s blood. One of Saundra’s brothers drives a truck, another drives for UPS and another for Greyhound. Even Alisa’s 3-year old son Scooter loves buses and is excited that his mom is a driver. Whenever he sees an Omnitrans bus go by he points out “That’s my mommy’s big bus!”
In addition to driving, music also runs strong in this family. Saundra used to wake the kids up every morning with a song. Alisa sings as a hobby and her twin sister sings with a professional rapper. Even little Scooter sang and showed an uncanny gift for the drums from the time he was 6 months old. Below is a short video from his proud mother and grandmother.
Happy Mother’s Day to Saundra and Alisa and all of the other moms out there. We hope you have a fantastic weekend!
– Juno Kughler Carlson
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