Category Archives: Rider Profile

Omnitrans rider dreams of teaching high risk kids

Almost eight years ago, Chanel Mason was diagnosed with a medical condition that made it impossible for her to drive. Since then she has relied on Omnitrans for all her travel needs, from picking up groceries to going to school. Riding the bus allows Chanel to maintain her independence and gives her the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of being a teacher.

“Education has always been important to me. When I was in 12th grade, I was scoring 100% on all my work. I went to my teacher because I was worried. How would I know if I was actually learning and improving? The teacher told me to just be happy that I scored 100%,” Chanel laughed. “I don’t think that way. I always want to be growing and learning new things.”

Her goal is to eventually teach first grade because she loves the curiosity and personality of that age group. “I really want to work with high risk kids,” said Chanel. “I grew up poor and I understand the kinds of challenges they have to deal with. I think I’m someone they could relate to and that I could make a difference in their lives.”

As a Cal State University of San Bernardino (CSUSB) student, finances are still an important issue for Chanel and she does what she can to stretch her resources. Over the past year she was able to take advantage of the Go Smart college pass program, which allows students at participating colleges to ride Omnitrans for free with their student ID. “Go Smart was a huge help,” said Chanel. “Instead of paying for bus fares, I was able to use that money for textbooks I needed. There are a lot of us at Cal State who really relied on that program and it’s going to be hard for us when it ends this month.”

The funding for the Go Smart program ends June 30th. Students at other participating colleges have opted to continue the program by voting yes on a referendum that would add a $7.50 transportation fee to their college fees each semester. CSUSB chose not to hold a student referendum at this time.

This week, Chanel was very excited to discover she was the winner of the Omnitrans Dump the Pump photo contest on Facebook. Her prize was a free 31-Day Bus Pass that she plans on using for school this fall. “Every little bit helps,” she said. “Without Omnitrans I would be in a lot of trouble.”

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If you want to see the Go Smart program continue at CSUSB for the 2012-13 school year, please make your voice heard. Tell them why this program is important to you and other students.

Contacts:

Commuter Services
909-537-7433
Email: Rideshare@csusb.edu
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CSUSB

ASI Associated Students Inc.
909-537-5932 or 909-537-5930
Email: asi-pres@csusb.edu
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/asi.csusb

– 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!

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Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Dump the Pump contest winner for June 13

Congratulation to Gabriel Arellano, winner of a 31-Day Bus Pass in our Dump the Pump photo contest this week. The 21-year-old works for the City of Montclair as a recreation leader, where he sets up for parties and community events. Most of his income goes to help his family, and he relies on public transit for all his travel.

“This will really help us a lot,” said Gabriel. “I’ve been using Omnitrans since 2008 when I graduated high school. I like riding the bus. I love meeting new people, and it gives me a chance to travel to different cities and explore places I normally wouldn’t get to see.”

In his free time, Gabriel enjoys drawing abstract art. His dream is to one day open an art gallery and clothing store.

Dump the Pump Photo Contest
Enter our photo contest on Facebook during the month of June for your chance to win a Free 31-Day Bus Pass. A new winner is announced every Monday.  Click here for details.

Couple pays it forward to bus drivers

Most of the time we hear from people if something has gone wrong. Husband and wife, Herman and Patricia Alderidge, make a point of telling us when things are going right.

Every week or so this, couple comes into the Omnitrans office with a list of coach operators who have gone above and beyond. “Omnitrans means everything to us,” said Herman, whose diabetes has left him confined to a wheelchair. “For three and a half years I never went anywhere–never left the house. I became depressed and it was very hard on both of us. We’ve been together since we were 15-years-old and for the first time I couldn’t go with her when she went out.”

Patricia finally convinced Herman to try traveling on the bus with her. At first he was nervous. It was hard being out in public again and feeling like he was at the mercy of his surroundings. But time with his wife was a huge incentive. Now he’s completely comfortable on the bus and likes getting out, meeting people and traveling to different destinations. The freedom and independence it gives him makes him feel like his old self again. And he and his wife can once more enjoy being out as couple, something they both treasure.

“The drivers have been so good to us,” said Patricia. “One of them recently recommended a car show that he thought we would like. We went that weekend and had a lot of fun together. He’s actually one of the names on our commendation list today.”

The couple has grown so fond of certain drivers that they go out of their way to catch their buses. A trip home that should only take 2 transfers turns into 4 so that they can see their favorite coach operators. They are very aware of how difficult the job can be and notice when the drivers have a smile and a kind word or go above and beyond with their passengers.

“They have to put up with a lot from people,” said Patricia. “And we want to make sure that they are recognized for the good they do.” She makes sure to write each coach operator’s name and good deed into the little notepad she keeps on her to make sure she remembers to commend them.

What about those drivers who might be feeling a bit grumpy one day? “Everybody has a bad day once in a while,” said Herman. “I keep a bag of lollipops on me. If I can’t get them to smile, that always does the trick!”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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Omnitrans CEO Milo Victoria thanks Patricia and
Herman Alderidge for their support of coach operators.

Bike and bus a winning combo

“Riding my bike and using the bus saves me a ridiculous amount of money in gas,” says Anthony Calles. A culinary arts student at Chaffey College in Chino, Anthony works in the dietary department at San Antonio Hospital. He would like to become a cook for the hospital and eventually go on to open his own restaurant. He hasn’t yet decided on his niche, although barbeque or grill style is among his favorites types of cuisine.

Anthony has been using Omnitrans to help him get to school and work for the past two years. He feels the combination of riding his bike and the bus gives him the best of both worlds. It means he is never stuck and has the flexibility to bike between stops. He can also take the bus for longer legs of his trip and use his bike for shorter jaunts–like grabbing food from a restaurant a few blocks away.

The biggest challenge he faces is that each bus only has two bike racks. If they’re full, he has to decide what he wants to do based on his time schedule. Sometimes it’s as simple as biking to the next stop to see if another bus has an opening. If he has the time, he might bike all the way to his destination. If he’s in a hurry, he can secure the bike for the day and hop the bus. He looks forward to the arrival of the new Omnitrans buses, which will be equipped with three-bike racks.

As a student, saving money is very important to Anthony. He is a huge fan of the Go Smart college pass program that gives him unlimited bus rides with his student ID. “During my first year riding the bus I was paying $35 for student bus fare every month. Now Chaffey students pay a $7.50 transportation fee every semester and can ride anywhere they need to go with just a student ID. It’s so worth it.”

– 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!

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Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Omnitrans passenger wins an Apple iPad 3

Marice woke up early one morning around 4:00 and decided to check her email. She came across her Omnitrans newsletter and read about the Ecomotive Prize Drawing we were featuring on our social networks. She clicked the link, submitted her entry and then promptly forgot about it.

“I was so surprised when I found out I had won,” laughed Marice. “I’ve never won anything in my life! It’s an amazing feeling. And it means even more to me because I got it from my bus company. We love  Omnitrans and use the bus to travel everywhere–work, school, wherever we need to go. In fact, my husband and I rode the bus to come here and pick up the prize today!”

Marice is an on-call substitute main duty aid at her children’s school, where she also volunteers. She loves reading and is especially excited over the iPad’s e-book capabilities. “What’s wonderful is now when I’m on the bus I will always have my choice of things to read. And if I don’t want to read, I can watch a movie or listen to music. I can do anything!”

Her husband is thrilled for her. “Out of all of the family members, she has always been the most technology resistant. Now she’s thinking about all the possibilities it opens up. She’s planning a trip to visit a childhood friend and is already talking about using the iPad to Skype with our kids while she’s gone.”


Congratulations, Marice. And thanks for riding Omnitrans!

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!
Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Omnitrans rider’s inspirational life

When she was 12-years-old, Krystle Wheeler’s mother handed her money and a bus pass and told her to go have fun at the mall. “I am the oldest of five children,” laughed Krystle. “I think she just needed to get one of us out of the house. But I’ve have been riding the bus ever since.”

Now 26, Krystle is a student at Crafton Hills College where she is studying speech communication with a minor in math. Her plan is to earn a Masters of Divinity degree and become a United Methodist pastor. The process requires approximately 7 years of study, and applicants must also pass a credit check, criminal background check, a 3-part psychological exam and a written doctrine exam. Krystle is undaunted by the prospect.

“I really feel this is what I need to be doing with my life right now,” said Krystle. “I had taken a break from school for about 5 years. When I started up again last August, Omnitrans had started the Go Smart Program which allowed me to ride the bus for free with my student ID. I took it as a sign that this I where I needed to be. When I was going to school before, there were times I would panic because I didn’t have money for bus fare that week and had to stay home from class until I could afford it. Now I know I can go every day.”

About four years ago, Omnitrans played another important role in Krystle’s life when she decided to donate one of her kidneys to a total stranger. “I was listening to a Pro-Wrestling show on the Internet and heard about a wrestler who needed a kidney. I began researching how many people in this country need a kidney each year and found the numbers ranged in the tens of thousands. I knew I wanted to help and contacted the National Kidney Registry to find out how I could donate one of my own kidneys. I used Omnitrans to get to all the doctor’s appointments to get my bloodwork and preliminary testing done. I even rode Omnitrans to the Greyhound station so I could get to Scripps Hospital in San Diego where the surgery was performed.”

Krystle spent two days in the hospital and was off pain meds after two weeks. She doesn’t know who the woman is who received her kidney, but is happy that she was able to make a difference and would do it again if she could. Does she worry about what will happen to her if her remaining kidney becomes damaged? “Not at all,” says Krystle. “I would do it again if I could. I’m in excellent health. Generally kidney donors are in better shape than most of the population because of the extensive testing they have to pass. And in the rare instance where a donor has a problem with a remaining kidney, they get moved to the top of the donor list.”

Omnitrans has been with Krystle through every important stage of her life from her first mall excursion as a child to reaching out to save a stranger’s life to returning to school to pursue divinity studies. She encourages more people to take advantage of public transit and offers these words of advice to new riders. “Be safe, be aware of your surroundings, but enjoy the ride. I can’t think of anywhere else you can pay $4 to go everywhere you want to for an entire day.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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Omnitrans fits this student’s on-the-go lifestyle

From shopping and visiting friends to going to school or out to a movie, Teresa Hernandez finds that Omnitrans fits her on-the-go lifestyle. The 34-year-old student is working towards her clerical/office certificate at San Bernardino Valley College where she is currently taking classes in psychology and health. “Psychology is probably my favorite subject,” said Teresa. “I like figuring out how people think and what makes them do the things they do. It applies to everything. Being able to read people is a great skill to have at any job.”

For the past five years, Teresa has been a regular Omnitrans rider. Her favorite trips include shopping destinations like Inland Center Mall, Starbucks, Sterling Movie Theater and K-Mart. “I love riding the bus,” said Teresa. “It’s comfortable, I can easily get wherever I need to go, and I like the independence it gives me. The bus driver on Route 2 is friendly and very nice. When someone like that recognizes you as a regular and smiles and says hello, it can really make your day.”

As a college student, Teresa is able to take advantage of the The Omnitrans Go Smart program which provides college students with unlimited bus rides on any route, at any time with their student ID. With the money she saves with Go Smart, Teresa is able to do things she loves to do like shop or socialize with friends.

“Every Thursday morning a small group of us meet at Molly’s Cafe here San Bernardino for breakfast.  A lot of my friends ride the bus like me, so it’s an easy destination for us. The food is great–they have everything you could possibly want to eat. It’s a fun way for us to catch up with each other.”

Do you have a favorite bus destination? Tell us about it! Email Juno Carlson at juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

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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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

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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!

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Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org