Tag Archives: omnitrans wheelchair

Rider overcomes her fear of public transit

In 1988, Renee Compton became disabled due to a stroke and brain tumor that left her wheelchair bound. Unable to drive any longer, she grew increasingly isolated and depressed, seldom leaving her home.

Finally in 2002, she connected with Behavior Health in Rialto, and her world completely changed. “They encouraged me to use my office skills to help others by volunteering with the organization,” said Renee. “So I did. For the past ten years I’ve been teaching word processing and Microsoft computer programs to people. I love it. It makes me feel needed. And I enjoy helping people who want to learn.”

In order to get back and forth between her home and volunteer job, Renee had to take the bus, something she had been avoiding. “It was scary for me,” she admitted, “I was worried about having to deal with strange people. But I made myself get on board. And then I rode again the next day and the next. Now I ride the bus all the time. I even have my favorite drivers who are always very courteous and polite. Because my wheelchair doesn’t have straps, it takes a little longer to buckle in. But these particular drivers never become impatient with me and always take the time to help.”

Renee recently had the opportunity to ride on of the new Omnitrans Xcelsior buses on the Route 14.  She was excited by its spacious feel. “I thought the new bus was neat! It felt big and roomy, and the wider aisles make it easier for me to get the wheelchair on board. I’m looking forward to riding it again.”

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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

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