In celebration of 35 years of bus service to the San Bernardino Valley, Omnitrans held a Media Open House this week at agency headquarters. Since 1976, Omnitrans has tallied over 325 million passenger trips and driven over 250 million miles.
"From the start, the people of Omnitrans have worked to create a quality transportation system for the San Bernardino valley," said Omnitrans CEO/General Manager Milo Victoria. "From the humble beginnings of yesteryear, to the high-tech plans for the future, we remain focused on the customer."
In appreciation, Omnitrans will have a free ride day on Friday, November 25, the day after Thanksgiving.
The program highlighted Omnitrans' history, accomplishments, current programs, and projects on the horizon. Speakers included Board Chair, Yucaipa Mayor Dick Riddell, CEO/General Manager Milo Victoria, Director of Marketing Wendy Williams, sbX Public Relations Manager David Rutherford, Director of Maintenance Jack Dooley, and Director of Planning Rohan Kuruppu. Two 35-year employees shared their memories and the 2011 Omnitrans bus "roadeo" competition winner explained what drives him.
Current ridership growth, up 11.4 percent in October and 7.4 percent year to date, was touted by Victoria as "a testament to the entire organization. Obviously, we are doing something right." Each of the last three months Omnitrans has carried over 1.4 million riders, the highest activity level since 2003.
Topics included the "Go Smart" college pass pilot program, which has provided over 450,000 free rides to local college students since August, plans for a new transit center in downtown San Bernardino, an update on the sbX Bus Rapid Transit project and a preview of a vehicle maintenance facility construction project to accommodate the new 60-foot articulated buses for sbX.
The Go Smart program has proved very successful. "In the first 12 weeks 15 percent of enrolled students have climbed aboard, exceeding our goal of 10 percent," stated Williams, marketing director. Over 8,400 local college students have benefited from this free ride program. Omnitrans is now working with partner colleges on student referendums in 2012 to approve funding multi-year programs through student fees.
Back in 1976, Omnitrans was created to provide a unified public transportation system for the San Bernardino County. Starting with a fleet of 29 vehicles and 60 employees, the agency now operates a fleet of 158 transit buses, all operating on compressed natural gas, and has 640 employees. In 35 years, Omnitrans ridership has tripled, growing from 5 million to 15 million per year.