Tag Archives: omnitrans coach operator

Coach Operator Mentors Troubled Youth

Dwaun Roberson served in the Army as an E4 Transportation Specialist. After he completed his service, he was surprised at how difficult it was to get a job back home. “When you’re in the military they tell you that, as a vet, it’s easy to get a job later. But that’s just not the case. I looked and looked and looked for jobs and just couldn’t get a foot in the door. Finally I saw a newspaper ad online for a coach operator position with Omnitrans. A buddy had told me it was hard to get a job there, so I didn’t have high hopes. But I applied anyway, tested, did the interview and have been working here since August.”

Dwaun enjoys the variety that driving provides. “I love it. The passengers you deal with are all different, each has their own personality. Your days are never the same. It helps me stay on my toes and keeps me sharp. “

Although working transportation for the public sector is a little different for Dwaun, he finds there are still many similarities. Safety, he points out, is always a big priority. He feels the training he received in the army well equips him for the constant multitasking involved in his day-to-day work at Omnitrans. “I am trained to be very aware, to know what’s going on around me at all times. At any given time you need to be alert to the road, traffic, animals, people, your vehicle and the passengers on board.”

Eventually Dwaun hopes to get a job in law enforcement and has a particular interest in helping to make a difference in the lives of troubled kids, a group he understands very well. “I grew up as a foster kid,” he says frankly. “My mom was on drugs, my dad drank and wasn’t around. I slept in parks when I was in middle school, surrounded by gangs and everything you can think of. But somehow I never got involved in that stuff and managed to do the right thing. Prayer and music saved me. I’ve been in the music business since I was 7- or 8-years-old. I got involved with a well-known youth choir in LA called Soldiers on Soul Patrol, and we performed for Governor Gray Davis and Mayor Villaraigosa and others. I even toured with Sheila E and Patti LaBelle. I surrounded myself with older, positive people and allowed myself to be led in a positive direction. It gave me focus.”

It’s this kind of mentorship he likes to share with other kids. Before he was laid off, Dwaun worked for security for about 7 months at Perris High School. “I deliberately chose a position where I could be near kids in the worst situations. My goal was to get involved with them, to talk with them, to try to get them to open up and turn their lives around. And I did. These kids told me things they would never tell administration or anyone else, and I’d listen. Sometimes they were worried because they knew I’d have to report something. But they also knew I was acting to make things better for them.”

His message with each kid was always the same. “You can’t blame other people for your actions. You are responsible for what you do. If you blame your mom, your dad, your friends or others you will never get out. You choose what direction you want for yourself and your family. Allow yourself to be led in a positive direction. It’s choice–a mindset.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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Robin Bose, Omnitrans coach operator, retired Army

Coach operator Robin Bose enlisted in the Army when he was 21 and became a helicopter crew chief. He says the military taught him to grow up and become more disciplined.

“I learned not to be a whiner, but just to take it on the chin. In the Army sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do, but you learn to just do it and ask questions later. And it feels good to know that you actually accomplished something.”

Robin first learned about Omnitrans through a veteran’s job fair. He applied, went through all the training and has been working as a coach operator for the past 17 years. “I like driving. I’m outside and get to meet a lot of different people. I’ve gotten to know some of the vets who ride the Route 2 to go to the VA hospital. Several of them I know by name. There’s a lot of camaraderie there. I just really enjoy meeting people.”

In fact, meeting people on the bus has had a major impact on Robin’s life. Seven years ago when he was riding the bus home from his shift, he got to know one of the regular female passengers. After several conversations, she gave him her number and told him to call her. “I waited two days to phone her,” he confessed. “I really liked her but was afraid of coming across as desperate. Then when I finally called, she was mad at me for taking so long!”

Robin and his wife Stephanie have been happily married now for 5 years. “It actually took me a couple of years to finally propose. One day we just looked at each other, and I said maybe we should get married. She smiled and said she thought that sounded like a great idea. So we did. I’m a lucky man,” said Robin.

– 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!
Email Juno Kughler Carlson at  juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Coach Operator gives passengers a reason to smile

When he was a little boy, Reginald Jamerson loved riding around on a toy school bus his parents had bought for him. His family used to joke that that he would grow up to be a bus driver one day.

“I know it sounds corny,” laughs 26-year-old Reggie. “But even as an adult I never forgot the fun I had with that little bus. I worked for a while as a security guard and later as a bingo floor clerk at San Manuel. But when I heard that there was an opening for a coach operator at Omnitrans I just had to apply. After I went through the training program, I was hooked all over again. I’ve been driving for the agency about 3 years now. “

For Reggie, the best part of his job is the passengers. “I meet a lot of people every day, and it keeps the job interesting. I make a point of greeting all my passengers when they get on the bus or pay their fares, and thank them for riding when they leave. If I can put a smile on someone’s face and make them have a good day, I will. You always want people to have a good experience. For all you know, the person boarding your bus might never have ridden before, and you’re their first impression. “

Recently Reggie was going out of service for the evening when he noticed an unusually high number of passengers who had been left behind at a Route 14 stop because the bus had been at full capacity. With permission from dispatch, he turned around, loaded the passengers, and then ran the route all the way to Fontana.

“Those late evening trips are always so full, and I didn’t want anyone to get stranded or miss their connection. People were really nice and thanked me over and over. One woman told me she had been worried because the battery on her wheelchair was almost drained and she hadn’t known what she was going to do. It felt good to be able to help.”

Another time Reggie observed a woman in a wheelchair coming up the street when he was at a stop. “For some reason, I got the feeling she was trying to make the bus. Now most of the time, people try to signal you and let you know, and I try to wait for them. But this woman wasn’t doing anything other than run her wheelchair full blast up the sidewalk. I lowered the ramp. She made it to the stop and flew right by me. I thought I was mistaken at that point, but she turned around and came back. Turns out she was going so fast she couldn’t stop quick enough! We laughed and she thanked me for waiting for her.”

What’s the hardest thing about being a coach operator? “Other cars,” said Reggie without hesitation. “People always think buses are slow and are constantly trying to pass you or cut you off. You have to constantly be aware of what’s going on around you. Safety is a huge part of our training, and we’re taught to stay alert to the space around us at all times and pay attention to what could be a potentially impatient driver.”

Reggie has a passion for public transit and eventually hopes to move up in the agency and become a field supervisor. He goes to school part-time and recently switched his major from pediatrics to accounting. He says it’s not as big a switch as it sounds, since pediatrics is very science and math heavy. In his down time he coaches basketball for the City of Redlands at the Redlands Community Center.

His parents still remember the little toy school bus that first inspired Reggie, and his dad proudly brags on his son to anyone who will listen. “My dad has started taking the bus a lot now that his car is having problems. Whenever one of the other drivers picks him up, he always goes into these stories about me and how his kid is a bus driver.” Reggie shakes his head smiling. “I always hear about it the next day.”

– 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!
Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org