September 26, 2011

Calif.'s Omnitrans offers students free rides

Courtesy Omnitrans

Courtesy Omnitrans
With community college students already packing San Bernardino, Calif.-based Omnitrans buses, California State University, San Bernardino began using the service when fall quarter commenced last week.

"The Omnitrans free ride pilot program supports our environmental goals," said CSUSB Commuter Services Supervisor Kathy Marron. "We encourage our students, especially those living on campus or nearby, to get onboard."  

Since August 15, more than 5,000 individual students attending Chaffey College, Crafton Hills College, and San Bernardino Valley College racked up more than 100,000 free rides. College trips contributed to Omnitrans' best August since 2004, at approximately 1.4 million total boardings.

Dubbed "Go Smart," the one-year pilot program is funded by participating colleges and the 16 governments that Omnitrans serves. Cities and the County are utilizing monies they receive from the South Coast Air Quality Management District to use on projects that benefit air quality.

Students can use their student ID card to ride Omnitrans at any time on any route, not just trips to and from campus. ID cards are swiped in the fare box on board buses, which allows the agency to capture usage data by school, by route and even individual ID.

"We applaud our city and county leaders for investing in a program that saves students money and saves our environment," said Omnitrans Director of Marketing Wendy Williams. "Just one student riding one day on transit instead of driving eliminates 20 lbs. of carbon emissions."

To continue the program beyond the free pilot phase, Omnitrans will ask students to approve a transit fee through referendums on each campus next spring.

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