Tag Archives: omnitrans employee

Aaron Moore to Lead Special Transportation Services Department

This month, we are happy to welcome Aaron Moore to Omnitrans as Director of Special Transportation Services (STS)! Aaron succeeds current director Douglas Stanley, who will retire in August after 30 years at Omnitrans.

“We are fortunate to have Aaron on board. He brings tremendous experience in developing and managing successful special transportation programs in the region,” said Omnitrans CEO/General Manager P. Scott Graham.

A seasoned transit professional, Aaron most recently served at Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA) as the Mobility Manager and Consolidated Transportation Service Agency Director. In his new role at Omnitrans, Aaron will oversee 14 employees, the contracts which deliver Access and OmniGo services, as well as manage programs for seniors and persons with disabilities. Such programs include: travel training, the volunteer driver reimbursement program, taxi/LYFT subsidy program, and paratransit eligibility certification.

“My favorite part of the work I do in public transit is helping people and seeing the positive effects of the programs which I help to create and operate are having on improving the quality of life for people,” said Moore. “Though many served by our programs are from the vulnerable demographics, public transit has the potential to be a benefit to everyone in the community and also to the environment.”

Welcome aboard, Aaron! To learn more about our STS department, and how qualifying riders can take advantage of programs offered, visit Omnitrans.org.

Celebrating a 35-Year Journey at Omnitrans

Rudy H. was joined by colleagues and staff in the East Valley body shop to celebrate his 35th anniversary earlier this month.

In 1978, Rudy Hernandez was just a young adult in an apprenticeship at Omnitrans, trying to figure out a viable career path after high school. Three years later, that student program ceased, and Rudy had to seek an outside opportunity, but his sights remained set on Omnitrans. This month, Rudy celebrates a remarkable milestone – his 35th year working with the agency’s Maintenance Department.

“Omnitrans was always very supportive and encouraged me to continue my education, so I went on to junior college while working here in the student program,” says Rudy. “In 1981, the program ended after three years, so I went to work somewhere else. I worked there about three years, but there were a lot of airborne hazardous materials and chemicals at the worksite, and they did not take safety very seriously. I left after applying for a job opening back at Omnitrans and getting re-hired.”

In the late 1970’s, Omnitrans was an up and coming transit agency in the San Bernardino Valley. There was no bus wash in the bus yard back then – just water, a mop, and a broom. Depending on the direction the wind was blowing at that time of day, maintenance staff had to face the bus in the opposite direction to keep from being splashed as they hosed the buses at the end of their run!

“When I came back to Omnitrans in 1984 as a utility service worker, we now had a bus wash, a bigger crew and supervisors who were good leaders and trainers,” says Rudy. “Before that, there was less organizational structure and less guidance when it came to our tasks.”

Over the years, Rudy’s exceptional performance earned him job promotions to mechanic helper, and in 1990, he became an equipment mechanic, the position he has held since. He has always enjoyed doing work that is hands-on and gets satisfaction from finding solutions to new problems he encounters while working on buses. This is how Rudy defines his success and the reason why he has had a rewarding career with Omnitrans.

Although Rudy preferred a career working in the shop rather than pursuing a management role in the office, as a senior employee he has still had the opportunity to help guide and pass down first-hand knowledge and experience to new employees as they come into the shop and begin their own career journeys.

“Sometimes, younger employees come to work here, and they are so quiet that they may not even greet you,” says Rudy. “When I began working here, I attended a training session and the instructor told us to always greet people walking down the hall and to be welcoming. When you are cordial with your co-workers, that helps build relations and become family faster.”

“I developed that habit and have learned that it helps you become a team much quicker, but it takes gray hair to learn that,” laughs Rudy. “When I was younger, I was probably the same way, but eventually you realize that other people are just as important as you are. It’s one big machine and it takes everyone to keep it running.”

Maintenance Director Connie Raya (right) and Maintenance Manager Omar Bryant (left) presented Rudy (center) with a special award of appreciation for his years of service.

Rudy’s managers and peers describe him as a committed, diligent employee – so much so, that after 35 years at Omnitrans, he has a near impeccable attendance record, and never took a sick family day off despite having gone through several losses including his father and both grandmothers.

“Rudy is a reliable, trustworthy, and dependable team member,” says Maintenance Manager Omar Bryant. “He takes his work very seriously and has been a pleasure to work with over the years.”

“I have always been taught to go to work on time, stay focused, and do a good job every day,” says Rudy of his secret to career longevity. “When I had a paper route as one of my first jobs, we had to deliver each paper to each house within a certain timeframe. That’s where I learned the importance of timeliness. Show up on time and do a good job. It’s been that way ever since, and I’ll go out with that mentality.”

Congratulations, Rudy! Omnitrans is thankful for all your years of dedicated service.

Omnitrans Hires Suzanne Pfeiffer as HR Director

(San Bernardino, CA)  Suzanne Pfeiffer has joined Omnitrans as Director of Human Resources, bringing over 30 years of human resources experience in both the private and public sectors.  She fills a vacancy created by Marjorie Ewing, who is retiring after 19 years at Omnitrans.

Pfeiffer most recently served as Chief Human Resources Officer at C-TRAN, the public transit agency in Vancouver, Washington.  At Omnitrans, she will oversee a department of 11 employees and is responsible for the agency’s personnel policies, recruitment and training, benefits administration, labor relations and Workers’ Compensation management.

“I’m really excited to be here and look forward to continuing my career in transit at Omnitrans,” said Pfeiffer.

Prior to working in the transit industry, Pfeiffer held HR positions at Foothill-DeAnza Community College District, Antioch Unified School District, Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, and Attorney’s Title Insurance Fund, Inc.

Pfeiffer attained an MBA with an emphasis in HR from Columbia Southern University.  She earned a BA in Business Administration and Management with an emphasis in Personnel Administration from California State University – East Bay.  Her professional certifications include PHR (Professional in Human Resources), SHRM-CP (Society for Human Resources Management Certified Professional) and CBP (Certified Benefits Professional).

Pfeiffer is also an adjunct professor for the College of Online and Continuing Education at Southern New Hampshire University teaching Human Resource and Organizational Development courses.

Omnitrans Selects Connie Raya for Maintenance Director

(San Bernardino, CA)  Southern California transit veteran Connie Raya recently joined Omnitrans as Director of Maintenance.

Raya has over two decades of experience in public transit maintenance gained while working at the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA). At Omnitrans, she will oversee a department of 108 employees responsible for maintaining a fleet of 188 buses and 25 support vehicles as well as multiple agency facilities.

“I’m excited to join Omnitrans, and to be part of an organization striving to improve the lives of residents living and working in the community, helping to improve air quality and mobility, by providing clean, safe, and reliable transportation in the San Bernardino Valley,” said Raya.

Raya joined OCTA in 1993 working in the Commuter Services Department. After earning a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Redlands, Raya transitioned to maintenance as a Fleet Analyst. From there, Raya continued to gain experience and be promoted, working her way up to Maintenance Resource Manager in 2006. In this role she was responsible for managing fleet assignments for revenue and non-revenue fleets, overseeing various maintenance systems used for asset management, timekeeping, and fluid management, along with overseeing the manpower deployment for the department.

In recent years, Raya took on various special assignments including the management of the facilities group assigned to maintain five operating bases and seven transit centers. As a division Base Manager she oversaw a wide range of maintenance functions including rebuild, automotive, maintenance training, electronics, and the body shop.

In 2016, Raya completed her Master of Science in Transportation Management from the Norman Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University. “Since then I have been searching for this type of opportunity to combine my experience and enthusiasm to make a significant contribution to a transit agency,” said Raya.

Founded in 1976, Omnitrans is an award-winning public transit agency providing over 11 million passenger trips per year in the San Bernardino Valley. Omnitrans is governed by a 19-member board representing 15 cities and San Bernardino County.

Going strong for 35 years at Omnitrans

This past October, finance clerk Teresa Padilla celebrated her 35 year anniversary with Omnitrans.

In an age when most people spend an average of 4.6 years working for the same company, it’s quite an accomplishment. Even at Omnitrans, where the average employee stays for 12 years, Teresa is an anomaly. What’s her secret?

“I love what I do, and Omnitrans is like family to me,” says Teresa simply. “I started here as the first dispatcher for our special transit service in 1978. I’ve known most of my co-workers for years, and I care about them. They’ve become an important part of my life, and we share a history. Many of us have seen this agency grow from a little office trailer in a gravel bus yard to a modern building with a fleet of 164 coaches. It’s amazing when you think back and realize how far we’ve come.

Today Teresa works in our finance department. She enjoys her job and is proud of the level of confidence her bosses have in her. She handles all accounts receivable, and it’s a position of trust she takes seriously.

She also likes the fact that Omnitrans is willing to invest in its employees through on the job training and education. “When I first started here in ’78, there were no computers. When technology grew and they became an essential, everyday part of the workplace, I learned those skills from my peers and supervisors. They taught me well, and I know my job because of it. I’m also a member of the agency’s Toastmasters group, which has helped immensely in improving my speaking abilities. I’ve gained more confidence and use a lot fewer ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ when I talk now!” she laughs.

Teresa Padillo hands out samples of her famous low-cal soy chorizo burritos & Carmi Lopez pours a healthy smoothie at the Omnitrans Wellness Fair.

Over the past year, Teresa has taken on a leadership role as a health advocate in the Omnitrans Wellness Program. Her lunch classes, which featured a mix of food sampling, educational materials and funny, down-to-earth conversations about healthy choices, were among the best attended in the agency.

“It was a fun way to get people to try new things and just share some great tips,” says Teresa. “I knew that some of these people would never even think about buying foods like hummus or kale at the grocery store in a million years. It just wasn’t something they were familiar with. But when I brought items into class for people to try, they loved it. We sampled everything from kale chips to chorizos and learned healthy alternatives to some of their favorite foods.”

A winning combo of educational materials, great conversation and food sampling made Teresa’s lunch & learn classes on nutrition and fitness very popular.

Teresa is probably most proud of her role as a union rep for the teamsters. “I’ve learned so much, in particular the importance of maintaining a balanced overview. You have to treat people with respect, know all the facts, and always work for a solution. A lot has to do with getting along with other employees and remembering there is always time for laughter, being personable and smiling. That’s all it takes to make friends. I’m fair but I’m also not afraid to call people on their stuff if they are wrong. They respect me for that, and I’ve never had a problem.”

To Teresa, Omnitrans means more than just a job. It is a constant source of pride. “The service we provide is so important to the people in our community, and I’m proud to be part of that.”  She smiles, “It feels good to know you’re helping to make a difference.”

– Juno Kughler Carlson

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Coach Operator lends a hand to stranded riders

One night after his last run, Omnitrans coach operator Earl Roberts was doing a final bus check before going off shift when a supervisor asked if he would mind transporting a young woman with a small toddler who had missed the last Route 14.  Without hesitation, Earl agreed.

“Being a father and grandfather, you think about your own family being in that situation. You can’t leave children stranded like that. And while I was driving the young lady to her stop, we came across other people who had also missed the last bus. So I pulled over and picked them up too. I ended up doing the entire round trip that night. People were grateful for the help, and I didn’t mind,” Earl smiled. “But I did remind them to check the bus book and get familiar with the schedules because this was definitely an exception. We can’t normally do a special run like that.”

A coach operator with more than 30 years of experience, Earl describes his life as simple and happy. “I’m not an exciting person. I don’t scuba dive or skydive or climb mountains or anything like that. I like to read, garden, go for a drive along the coast with my wife, or just spend time with my family.  I like working for Omnitrans and take pride in my career. Being a coach operator combines two of the things I enjoy most—driving and working with people. My father taught me his work ethic, and it’s something I’ve always tried to follow. He said son, you work hard, take care of your family, go to church and live by the Golden Rule.”

“Basically I try to treat people the way I’d like to be treated. It’s a learning experience both ways. If you’re good to people they will generally be good to you. A lot of times passengers ask me: ‘You having a good day, coach operator?’ I always smile and say yes. I decided a long time ago that there is no such thing as a bad day. I always have good days. Realistically, let’s face it, sometimes bad things can happen on good days. But every moment is what you make it. It’s your attitude, your outlook on life–that’s what makes the day.”

Earl was honored this month with an Omnitrans Going The Extra Mile (G.E.M.) Award  for his exceptional service to our riders.  He regularly drives Routes 3, 14 and 20, where he makes it his mission to get a smile from his passengers. If you see him, be sure to give a wave or say hello. And if you ask him what kind of a day he’s having, he’ll always break out into a grin and tell you it’s a good one.

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

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

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

Have you seen this man at a bus stop?

Dennis Eaves with a photo from his original Omnitrans employee badge

This man has been waiting at the bus stop for 25 years!  Well not waiting actually. Working is more like it. In his two and a half decades, Dennis Eaves probably has been to all of the 2,500 bus stop locations in our 450 square mile service area.

Neither wind nor rain or summer heat wave can keep Dennis down, and in 2011 he had a perfect work attendance record. He’s installed new bus stops and benches or relocated them as needed, cleaned bus stops and removed graffiti.

When Dennis started with Omnitrans, bus stop signs just had the Omnitrans logo on the front.  Since then we added route decals on the signs and installed schedule kiosks at more than 299 locations.  We’ve also added 171 trash cans and 49 solar lights at 220 locations.   Later this year Dennis and the rest of the Stops and Stations team will be changing out all our bus stops signs with new ones featuring our new logo to be unveiled in August.

Since Dennis first began working for Omnitrans in 1987, he’s lost a lot of hair. But he still has the same drive and can-do attitude that he walked in the door with 25 years ago. If you see him at a bus stop near you, be sure to give him a shout out!

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Email juno.carlson@omnitrans.org

Omnitrans Coach Operator Nathan Weathersbee

“I always felt there was nothing I couldn’t do”

When Coach Operator Nathan Weathersbee came to California in 1962, he made
a promise to himself—that he would one day own a big house and have a pocket full of money. It’s a dream he’s achieved through hard work, determination and  an indomitable spirit.

Nate grew up on a farm in South Carolina with his parents and eleven brothers and sisters. They lived in a two bedroom house and slept three to a bed. The family had a cow, some crops and a handful of chickens that they managed to survive on. From the time he was little, he was out in the field picking cotton, corn or anything else that needed harvesting. He was always a quick learner, confident in his abilities and never one to let an opportunity pass him by.

Nate’s first experience with driving came when he was 8-years-old and taught himself how to drive the family tractor. Years later in high school he drove the school bus for the black students. Racial segregation permeated every aspect of southern culture in those days, and Nate was acutely aware of the limitations it imposed.  But his belief in himself never wavered. “It just made me stronger. I always felt there was nothing I couldn’t do, given the chance.” When he graduated high school in 1962 he decided to leave the south and move to California in search of new opportunities.

“My daddy had taught me how to cut hair when I was little,” said Nate. “And I actually became pretty good at it. I used to cut hair for all the kids in our neighborhood.“ When he got to California, he went to school to become a certified barber and had his own shop for several years. But when he had a family of his own and needed benefits, he decided to try bus driving again and went to work for the Metropolitan Transit Authority in LA for 11 years.

Nine years ago he joined the Omnitrans West Valley team. “I love coming to work. Every day is something different,” said Nathan. “I’m a people person, and you have to like people to be good at this job. In some ways barbering is not so different from bus driving. I can see in people’s eyes if they’re not happy or if they might be difficult. I talk to them with calmness and respect and they almost always leave my bus with a smile and a ‘thank you, bus driver’. In fact, every day before I get on the bus I say a simple prayer. God protect this bus. No harm, no accidents and no confrontations from anybody. Just let me have a peaceful day,” Nate smiles. ”And I do.”

– 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