Omnitrans previewed the Inland Empire’s first SBX rapid transit service bus on Wednesday, at the Kendall Station in San Bernardino. The 15.7-mile corridor will include 16 art-inspired stations at key university, government, business, entertainment and medical centers as well as four park-and-ride facilities. John Valenzuela — Staff Photographer

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 01/15/14, 7:32 PM PST |

SAN BERNARDINO >> The state-of-the-art, 60-foot-long bus didn’t turn many heads as it pulled smoothly from the sbX park-and-ride station at Palm Avenue and Kendall Drive to Cal State San Bernardino on Wednesday, but for officials onboard, the 2.5-mile ride represented a coming surge into the future.

Wednesday’s voyage — a ride-along for local leaders and reporters, between the two most northern stops — was ceremonial, but beginning April 30 buses like that one will travel the 15.7-mile corridor every 10 minutes during peak hours, changing not only San Bernardino but the region, said Omnitrans chair Alan Wapner.

“We need it to succeed so we can continue to develop Bus Rapid Transit,” said Wapner, who is also an Ontario councilman. “Hopefully what we’ll see is a new type of rider. We’ll see students and business people.”

Officials hope that Wi-Fi accessibility, power outlets and a design that’s intended to appear sleeker and more like light rail than a traditional bus will appeal to riders.

In fact, it might also be a precursor to light rail, Wapner said.

And by connecting to the larger Metrolink system — including its extension into Redlands that’s planned for 2018-19 — the buses offer people an option to travel Southern California without depending on the cars that clog local freeways, said San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, who’s on the Omnitrans board of directors.

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