Joe Cantella takes 500,000th trip of popular travel training program
After a day at Disneyland, there was a still a little bit of magic left in the air for Joe Cantella as he made his way home aboard a Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) bus to Banning.
After making a transfer in Riverside on his way back from Disneyland, the Banning resident and his wife Charlotte Crider arrived at their final destination and became instant celebrities. That’s because Joe had just taken the 500,000th bus ride as part of RTA’s travel training program, which for the past seven years has helped veterans, seniors and disabled customers learn to ride the bus.
“I enjoyed riding the bus because I didn’t have to drive my car” said Cantella as he held a sign that said “500,000th Travel Training Trip” and clutched a bouquet of yellow, white and blue balloons.
To celebrate the milestone, RTA officials surprised Joe at the Beaumont Walmart bus stop on October 18, handing him prizes, commuter goodies, and a round of applause for riding the bus. The event came as a pleasant surprise to Joe who had just taken his first ride aboard an RTA bus as part of a training program designed to give him the confidence he needs to ride the bus independently.
“This is one of the happiest days of my life,” said Joe who was greeted by RTA’s Chairman of the Board Art Welch and Beaumont City Council Member and RTA Board Member Nancy Carroll.
His trip that day was remarkably easy. Earlier that day, he and his wife Charlotte and nine other trainees boarded Pass Transit Route 120 in Beaumont and transferred to RTA’s Route 200 in San Bernardino. From there, it was a straight shot in the carpool lanes to Disneyland. Along the way, Joe and Charlotte learned to pay their fare, read maps and schedules, and access the bus’ free Wi-Fi and USB charging ports.
The federally funded travel training program is steering a growing number of customers like Joe away from costly Dial-A-Ride service. The training is a free, self-paced process where an individual, regardless of ability or age, can learn to ride RTA’s fixed-route system. Since its inception in 2011, the Travel Training Program has served nearly 2,000 seniors, veterans and customers with disabilities, resulting in 500,000 trips on fixed-route buses.
RTA Chairman Welch said the event was significant milestone in a program that is giving people a strong sense of freedom.
“This program has really exceeded our expectations,” he said. “Not only it is changing the way people think of public transit, it’s giving hundreds of people the confidence they need to travel without limits.”
Left to right: Beaumont City Council Member and RTA Board Member Nancy Carroll, Charlotte Cride, Joe Cantella and RTA’s Chairman of the Board Art Welch.
RIVERSIDE, CA — October 22, 2018