Tag Archives: public transit

Omnitrans Field Supervisor Roberta Robertson

Omnitrans Field Supervisor Roberta Robertson

What does it take to be a good Field Supervisor? “You have to be a people person,” says Roberta Robertson. “You need to be able to assert authority in creative ways in order to diffuse tense situations.  And it’s important to listen–even if someone is chomping you out. Each individual is unique, and you need to be flexible and adapt to different personalities. You have to be that chameleon.”

Last October, Roberta joined Omnitrans as a field supervisor. Previously she worked part time for the City of Redlands Police Department in their community service division. Her full time job was working with probationary kids in a youth facility where she was a safety and security supervisor. She also has 15 years’ experience as a coach operator and drove buses for OCTA for 12 years. Her strength, she says, is conflict resolution and diffusing situations.

“The most challenging part of the job was coming here as an outside hire and trying to build relationships with the coach operators. It took a little time for them to see that I know my job, that I have high integrity, and that I listen to them and treat them fairly.  One of my roles is to counsel, but I also have to report things that could be a problem or safety issue. We’re all here for a common goal, to provide the best service we can to our customers.”

Mentoring is something Roberta understands well. She’s devoted much of her life to counseling young adults and encouraging them to reach for their dreams. She’s a volunteer in the “Midnight Hoops” basketball program at the Redlands Community Center which provides a supervised, safe haven for youth. “I grew up in the inner city, where there was a lot of gang activity. We lived in a low income neighborhood where people didn’t have any goals and never knew anything other than the street they grew up in.  As a kid I knew early on I wanted something different. I started playing sports and discovered I had a gift for basketball, averaging 30 points a game. It became my ticket out, allowing me to go to college. That’s part of the reason I like talking to kids. I tell them if I can do it, you can do it. But you do have to grab the opportunity when it presents itself.  If you’re motivated, a hard worker and have a desire to get things done there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.”

Roberta’s work ethic, self-discipline, versatility and personal rapport provide a strong foundation for her role as a Field Supervisor. The job requires wearing many hats, and often supervisors won’t know from one day to the next what their schedules will entail. They might have to investigate a customer complaint or commendation, serve papers, do a write up, handle a special task they are assigned or even drive a bus if the agency is short-handed. Often they are responding to calls, fixing fare boxes, or addressing customer service issues. Sometimes they are needed to set up detours due to construction. Approximately 7 hours of time each day is spent in the field. The safe operation of buses for both passenger and drivers is always a priority, and the bus agency wants customers to be happy with their experience so they will ride again.

“I’m out of my van more than I am in which is a little different for this culture,” says Roberta. “I don’t take complaints on the street—I guide them to our 800 number for that. But I do walk downtown a lot and talk to people. It’s a good way to build rapport with and get information from the riders who use our buses every day. It humanizes the bus service for them and earns their respect. It makes it easier to do my job. And if something goes down where I need help, they might remember me and have my back. I do the same with the operators. When I check in with a driver in the field, I always greet them with a smile and try to bring them a cold water. How you treat people has a domino effect. If you help them have a great day, that attitude spills over to everyone else they deal with.”

Ultimately, a Field Supervisor’s responsibility is to observe and report. Primarily their investigations are driven by complaints or commendations reported to the Omnitrans customer service line. A Field Supervisor may be assigned go into the field to watch what’s going on and take notes or asked to query video to verify the information received. Both complaints and commendations are investigated thoroughly to ensure their validity and to ensure they are connected to the correct driver. This can be difficult to do because often a customer doesn’t have the operator’s badge ID and coach number. They just have an area and approximate time frame, which takes longer to research. If performance standards are down, it is up to the Field Supervisor to figure out what’s happening.

“It’s hard when you know someone’s job is on the line,” says Roberta. “But it’s about being fair and adhering to the process.

The goal of the agency is to change the behavior through education and progressive discipline. Most of the time guidance and mentoring, along with classes designed to help improve customer service and driving skills, is enough to correct the problem.

“Operators have to understand the type of job they have. I was 21 when I started driving. I was such a little skinny chick, it used to scare people. Passengers would tease me and say ‘Are you sure you know how to drive this thing?’” Roberta laughs.  “It’s an immense obligation to know that you’re responsible for every person on that bus, for how well you’re driving and for how you talk to people. Anybody could be on that bus at any time. Once a mayor was on my bus and I didn’t know it. You don’t want to do anything that could jeopardize your reputation or the reputation of the company you work for.”

–Juno Kughler Carlson

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Do you have a great Omnitrans story to share? Let us know!
Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Homeless newlyweds get fresh start with Omnitrans

Three years ago Corey and Maryrose Boggs were homeless and living on the streets in San Bernardino County. Omnitrans played a key role in their journey to self-sufficiency.

Corey was 19 and Maryrose was 18 when they met on the Internet and fell in love. However, there were major complications to overcome. Corey was living in Chicago and had recently lost his job. His plan was to find work and save up money for six months so the two could meet in person and get married. To Maryrose, that felt like an eternity. Unable to wait, she held a garage sale, sold most of her belongings and flew to Chicago to be with Corey.

Four days later, they got married at Corey’s uncle’s house church, Potter’s Field Ministries, in Bridgeview, IL. When they flew back to California, they faced less than ideal circumstances as they bounced from place to place, living briefly with relatives, staying at homeless  shelters, and working for a short time at a Christian-based farm for room and board. “”We even slept in a bush for a short time,”” laughed Corey. ””You can tell a woman really loves you when she’s willing to live with you in a bush!””

With little money and few resources, the two relied heavily on public transit to help them overcome their circumstances. “We used Omnitrans to do everything,” said Maryrose. “We rode the bus to get to the library to do job searches, to the Salvation Army so that we could shower and to the plasma center so we could donate plasma to get money for food and fares. For a while we even rode Omnitrans out to Crafton Hills College and used their library computers to take online college classes.”

At one point the couple posted an ad to Craig’s List, asking for a bus pass donation just so they could keep going. A good Samaritan responded, meeting them at an outlet, and buying both of them a 31-Day pass. It was an amazing and unexpected gift for the grateful pair. “The man told us he’d been through hard times himself,” said Corey. “And that he felt it was important that we all look out for one another.”

This October, Corey and Maryrose celebrate their third wedding anniversary. The two now live happily in a nice apartment in Illinois where Corey works in sales doing door-to-door marketing. He plans on going back to school and finishing his business degree. He offers two pieces of advice to others who find themselves out on the street.

“Don’t be an idiot and decide to do drugs. You need a straight mind to find a job and get out of your situation. There’s so many things you need to think about all the time. For instance you can’t shower just anywhere, and it’s a lot harder to get work if you’re dirty. You have to be able to find the resources you need to get help. Also, take advantage of public transportation in your area. Omnitrans was a huge lifesaver for us and opened the door to more opportunities. If you can, invest in a 31-Day Bus Pass. We did a lot of one day at a time passes, but it is so much cheaper if you can buy the longer passes. You will save a lot of money that way.””

“And have faith. Being together was always the most important thing for us,” added Maryrose. “We trusted in God and our love for each other.”

Corey agrees. “I can say with 100% certainty that our future is solid. When you’ve gone through living on the street together, you know there is nothing you can’t survive as a couple.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

“Infinite Love” symbolized Maryrose and Corey’s love and commitment to each other

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

Public transit ridership soars in 2012

According to an article in USA Today, transit agencies across the nation are showing record or near-record ridership for the first quarter of 2012. The American Public Transportation Association(APTA) announced bus ridership increased in 34 out of 37 large cities. Omnitrans saw an 8% increase in ridership for January February and March.

“High gas prices were part of the reason for this large first quarter ridership increase,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.  “More and more people are choosing to save money by taking public transportation when gas prices are high.”

Get a FREE ride on Omnitrans!
Are high gas prices getting you down? Thinking about making the move to public transit? Visit the Omnitrans website for a printable coupon that will allow you to ride the bus for free on national Dump the Pump Day, June 21st. You can also find a free ride coupon in the Sunday, June 17th editions of the San Bernardino Sun and the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

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!
Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Omnitrans A Great Solution for this Newlywed

Omnitrans Rider ProfileTwenty-two year old Susanne Bishop has been an Omnitrans rider for the past four years. She’s an online student at the University of Phoenix, where she’s studying business administration. “Being an online student takes a lot of discipline,” says Susanne. “But I’m pretty good at planning my time and staying on track. My goal is to one day open a health facility that works with special needs kids.”

Susanne is recently married, and she and her husband are expecting a new baby in September. Because her husband’s job is half an hour away in El Monte, he uses the family car to make the commute while Susanne uses the bus to get around town and run errands or go to her doctor appointments. She’s very much an on-the-go type person, and enjoys taking shopping trips, visiting family or grabbing a bite to eat with friends. “Inland Center Mall is one of my favorite shopping destinations. For hair appointments, I like the Savvy Salon on Route 66. They have a great atmosphere, are always friendly and get you in and out quickly. They’re such good people.”

Susanne is very comfortable riding the bus and is happy with the money she is able to save. “I’m so familiar with the different routes that it’s easy for me to get where I need to go,” she explains. “And it would be really expensive for us to have a second car. Right now it costs us about $80 a week in gas just for my husband to drive back and forth to work.”

For some of Susanne’s friends, the thought of riding the bus makes them apprehensive. “They think it will take forever to get somewhere. And they worry about it being dangerous. I tell them it’s not like that at all. And most of the drivers are very nice and helpful and go out of their way to make sure you feel safe and looked after.”

To show them what she means, Susanne will invite friends to take the bus with her and go out for food. “They are always surprised at how fast it is,” she laughs. “The whole experience is nothing like what they expect. I tell them it’s really easy once you know the routes, and you can always just go online and look them up. Now my friends are riding more and more.”

–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 is my limousine

Sondra, 1st prize winner in the Omnitrans Valentine's Day photo contest

RIDER PROFILE:  Sondra is a 50-year old single military mom whose son is a Marine recruiter and Iraqi veteran. A new grandma-to-be, she is eagerly looking forward to the birth of her first grandchild in April. She volunteers as a ticket usher at the Lewis Family Playhouse in Victoria Gardens. She is also a volunteer at the Abundant Living Family Church in Rancho Cucamonga, where she is involved in a ministry group focused on gang prevention. It is a cause she feels passionate about. “We try to get these kids to open their hearts, stop killing people and doing drugs. We help find them jobs and resources.”

Sondra used to be a preschool teacher before her disabilities brought her career to an end. She suffers from vertigo and dementia, has arthritis throughout her body and nerve damage in one leg.

“I have good days and bad days,” laughs Sondra. “Every once in a while I walk like the Bride of Frankenstein, but most of the time people wouldn’t know there was anything wrong with me. There are a lot of people like me who have hidden disabilities and are embarrassed by them. It can be very humiliating. Sometimes you need special accommodations or extra help with something and people don’t understand why because your disability isn’t obvious.”

Sondra has been riding the bus since 1978. At first it was just occasionally, when her car would break down. Now she rides because she enjoys it. She takes about 5 different buses a day and jokingly refers to Omnitrans as her “limousine.”

“Every morning I wonder who I’m going to meet that day,” she says. “I have this mom energy that makes people want to talk to me, so I get to meet a lot of different people on the bus. Sometimes it’s a homeless girl. Sometimes it’s a family or someone on their way to work. I try to have a smile and a kind word for everyone. Little things like that can mean the world to a person.”

Sondra knows this firsthand. Her favorite drivers, Doris and Albert always give her a smile and wave whenever they drive by her on the street. “They really make you feel special. They have compassion for people, love their jobs and always have a smile for you. When your driver waves at you and you’re not even getting on the bus, it means so much. You will always go back to Omni because of that. You can always find other rides, but those drivers are the ones that keep bringing you back.”

When asked what her life would be like without public transit, Sondra is emotional. “I worry about that sometimes. If Omni wasn’t around, I’d miss it like crazy. I would feel like I lost a best friend. The good drivers make me feel loved and give me the strength to go on when I’m having a bad day. They are like family to me.”

–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 Detour Alert for San Bernardino

Detour Alert beginning February 20th

Due to road construction in downtown San Bernardino, Routes 2 and 15 will detour from Second and E Streets to travel on Rialto Ave. and G Streets.The detour will be in effect starting Monday February 20 and will last until further notice.