Tag Archives: workforce development

Preparing for a coach operator career

Whenever a coach operator job position opens at Omnitrans, our HR Department receives hundreds of applications. How will you stand out?

Each time an Omnitrans  coach operator position is advertised, our HR Department receives hundreds of applications.  Yet only about 8% make it through the hiring process.

Surprisingly, most are immediately eliminated for one simple reason. They failed to fully complete the application. Others are weeded out during personal interviews for lack of professionalism. 

“Personal appearance, business etiquette and strong interview skills are absolutely critical for success in today’s competitive job market,” points out author and career coach Patricia Dorch.

Bridge Program instructors Patricia Dorch and Henry Shields

That’s where the Bridge Program comes in. The free 5-day workforce development program is facilitated by Dorch and co-instructor Henry Shields, a former Omnitrans Fleet Safety & Training Supervisor.  Together, they introduce job seekers to potential new careers as public transit coach operators. They also prepare participants for the application and interview process, teaching them how to make a great first impression and brand themselves for success.

“Every single day we were challenged,”says Bridge Program graduate Karena Rojas. ” We created portfolios,  covered everything you can think of in the interview process, and learned skills specific to the job of a coach operator. Everyone who graduated the program with me was happy to be a part of it. It boosted everyone’s confidence, so much so that we are all looking harder for jobs and feel surer of ourselves in obtaining one.”

Are you ready for a new career this year? Bridge Program classes are continuing at the Omnitrans San Bernardino office through January. Space is limited. Click here to sign up today.

“I feel like somebody”

Bridge program photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

Bridge Program instructors Patricia Dorch and Henry Shields with Aaron Harper

There are limited spots still available in our Bridge Program.
Click here to sign up for a class session.

As a regular bus passenger, Aaron Harper had been interested in possibly pursuing a career as a coach operator. So when a friend sent him an email about open coach operator positions at Omnitrans, he decided to apply. To give himself an advantage, he also signed up for the agency’s 5-day Bridge program, which helps people develop professional resume and interview skills and gives them an overview of the transit industry and coach operator duties.

“I really did this for myself,” says Aaron. “The class made me feel like somebody. I’ve been through a lot in my life, and wanted to show everybody that I could do this no matter what my past has been like. There’s also a special somebody that I admire and would like to have in my life. I’d like to show her that I am doing good.”

Bridge program photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

Aaron Harper on the second day of Bridge Program classes

Still the 21-year-old struggled with mixed feelings about the class, and he almost quit the first day.

“My first day, I kind of doubted this program,” he admits. “I was thinking, ‘Oh man, I am taking two days off from my job at Goodwill to do this and there’s no guarantee I’ll even get hired. This is just a waste of my time.’ Now I’m glad that I took those two days off. Even if my boss from my other job didn’t understand, I understand. I’m glad I got what I needed, and now I can take the skills with me anywhere.”

Over the past few years, Aaron has been following his dream to be a musician. He sings, raps, and plays the drums. But now he’s decided to take a step back and focus on making a living.

Bridge program photo by Juno Kughler Carlson

“I really wanted to see what else I was good at, so here I am,” Aaron says. “At first it was the money that got my attention. Especially for people my age, there aren’t many ways to make that kind of money. I was thinking that even if I didn’t get to be a bus driver maybe I could do maintenance or something. I came here with an open mind. Whatever they throw at me, I’m just willing to work. I want to do something with myself.”

As part of the final day of class, the students dress up as they would for a job interview. For Aaron, it inspires a feeling of pride and professionalism.

“I like dressing up,” he explains. “I don’t know, it just makes me feel like somebody. When you step in here, it makes you feel like you’re important—like all eyes are on you. And you kind of rise to that, but not in an ego kind of way. You just feel like you’re respected in the business part of your life.”

Graduates of the Bridge Program are universally recognized by regional transit agencies as prime candidates for coach operator positions. At the end of their program, participants receive a certificate of completion they can include with their resumes when applying for a coach operator position.

Aaron with Omnitrans Director of Internal Audit and Workforce Development Committee lead, Dr. Samuel Gibbs

“The certificate means that I put forth the effort to utilize my time to come here,” says Aaron. “It’s basically saying that my role businesswise is important. The way I conduct myself is important. And my dedication is important. I felt like leaving after the first day. I felt it was a waste of my time because it was just a program, not a job. So what’s the point? I’m looking for something right now. Now I feel the class helped me, and I might actually get the job. Who knows? I could get a call next week or weeks from now. As a Bridge Program graduate I know I’ll probably be the first to get looked at before the next man.”

Whether or not he is hired on as a coach operator, Aaron believes the skills he has gained from the program will change the way he approaches his work.

“I would definitely recommend this program to other people. I’m going to go back to my job pretty happy with what I’ve learned and treating customers a little better. Not that I’ve ever treated customers badly, but now my eyes are more open to it. Maybe I’ll be a little more talkative—even explain a little about my experiences over the past week, you know? It could help someone else.”

There are limited spots still available in our Bridge Program.
Click here to sign up for a class session.

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Juno Kughler Carlson

Aaron and his classmates celebrate their Bridge Program graduation


Bridge Program graduates on fast track to success

Workforce Development Bridge Program

There are limited spots still available in our Bridge Program.
Click here to sign up for a class session.

Since early October, a free training program presented by Omnitrans has been encouraging people to bridge from to a new career in public transit. Funded by a Workforce Development Grant, the Bridge Program is a series of classes that introduces participants to the transit industry and teaches them how to apply for and successfully secure jobs as coach operators. The program includes an overview of coach operator duties as well as workplace professionalism and interview skills. At the end of each 5-day intensive training program, participants receive a certificate of completion which they can then bring with them when interviewing with regional transit agencies.

Participants in the Bridge Program tour the Omnitrans bus yard, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

“This certificate indicates to regional transit agencies that the applicant has a basic understanding of coach operator duties and has developed the skills needed to be successful in a professional work environment,” explains Omnitrans Director of Internal Audit Dr. Samuel Gibbs, who heads the workforce development committee. “Bridge Program graduates have an incredible opportunity to pursue a lucrative, long-term transit career with great potential for advancement.”

Instructors Patricia Dorch and Henry Shields with Bridge Program participants, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Instructors Patricia Dorch and Henry Shields with Bridge Program participants

Many of the Bridge program participants are unemployed job seekers, while others are hoping to transition from their current position to a new career. They are all looking for ways to stand out from the crowd with a potential interviewer.


Shannon Kovitch will soon be retiring from the County of San Bernardino and would like to start a new career. He was surprised at how extensive the training was on just the first day and says he will use it to change the way he approaches potential jobs. “Just the portion on the resume—I realize now I’ve been doing it wrong. I’ve been using online examples and just submitting a generic resume with my application. The way Ms. Patricia formats the resume, the addition of a cover letter and certificates, and how everything is positioned within your portfolio is all new information for me.”

Bridge Program graduate Reginald Reid, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Bridge Program graduate Reginald Reid

Student Reginald Reid agrees.  “I’ve been going to school and working several side jobs. I was looking for a good career opportunity that I could qualify for. The first day I walked into class I was blown away by the information the instructors provided.  I actually felt a little childish when they pointed out all the different ways you can sell yourself for a position, because it made such perfect sense. Now I know what I can say to help seal the deal during an interview.”

Necktie demonstration - bridge program

Click here to view more photos from the Bridge Training Program!

Reginald was also impressed by how extensive the duties of a coach operator are. “I was very surprised,” he admits. “It’s interesting. There’s a lot more to it than just driving a bus.”


“I’m excited that we are introducing great new people to the industry,” says Omnitrans Fleet Safety & Training Supervisor and Workforce Development Committee Member Don Frazier. “I have worked in transit for almost forty years, and it’s been wonderful career for me. It’s going to add a lot to your life personally and economically, and you’re providing a viable service for the community. It’s a great opportunity for anybody to get into the Bridge Program.”

Bridge program graduates, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

So far, two classes have graduated the Bridge Program, and already there have been  several successes:

Theresa Turner was excited to report that she was hired by a paratransit agency after she applied the “seal the deal” technique during her job interview.


Jaswant Singh told us that, thanks to the coach operator skills overviews presented in the course, he aced his test with LA Metro and is scheduled for an interview.

Haskell Ross credits the interview techniques he learned during the program in helping him land a job with a construction company. He was told that he made a great first impression!

– Juno Kughler Carlson

There are limited spots still available in our Bridge Program.
Click here to sign up for a class session.

Graduation Day - Bridge Program, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson


Bridge Program students do bus role play

Coach operator Bridge Program

There are limited spots still available in our Bridge Program.
Click here to sign up for a class session.

Our first Bridge Program class is  this week, and we’re here with a sneak peek behind-the-scenes. Funded by a Workforce Development Grant, the program introduces participants to the transit industry and teaches them how to apply for and successfully secure jobs as coach operators. 

The class covers everything from basic job application and interview tips to a general overview of coach operator skills. We had a little fun with them while they were doing coach operator and passenger role playing exercises.

The right way:


And the not-so-right way:


Interested in a career as a Coach Operator?

Job career opportunity as a bus driver, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson

Thanks to a Workforce Development Grant, Omnitrans is introducing a series of FREE 1-week training programs to prepare  participants for a career as a transit driver with a regional transit agency!

The selection process to become a coach operator can be very stringent, and initial testing has proven to be a big hurdle for many. The Bridge Training Program will teach various topics to provide candidates with the tools they need to successfully apply for  and pass the first phase of the hiring process.

Program classes will be held Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. beginning in October.

Each program  will culminate with a job fair, where the graduates will have the opportunity to interview with several regional transit agencies. 

A career in transit can be both lucrative and rewarding.

Possible benefits might include:

  • $12 – 15 an hour average starting pay
  • Medical/Dental/Vision Plans
  • Retirement Program
  • Tuition Assistance Program
  • Paid Sick Leave
  • Paid Vacation
  • Paid Holidays
  • Employee Wellness Program

Interested in more information?  Contact HR Specialist Denise Gibson at Denise.Gibson@omnitrans.org.

job training as a bus driver, photographer Juno Kughler Carlson