Over the past several weeks, I’ve spent time photographing riders on the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Blue Line and the people who pass through the San Ysidro Transit Center. Scenes from the often crowded center reflect some of the people and dynamics that shape the neighborhood along the U.S.-Mexico border.
While photographing, I met Michelle Arenas, a mother who was boarding a shuttle bus to Las Vegas with her three children and a few large suitcases. It was the last leg of a long trip home after attending a wedding in Michoacán. On another afternoon, a bouquet of red roses that Emmanuel Alvarado bought for his girlfriend’s high school graduation caught my eye from across the trolley tracks.
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One of my favorite moments was photographing brothers Isaac and Ulisses Diaz as they watched the world pass by through a trolley window. They were on a trip with their mom to buy a puppy in Tijuana.
The station is the southernmost stop on the most used line of the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System. It sits at the entrance to Tijuana, one of the busiest land border crossings in the world, yet it’s plagued by a chaotic design of disjointed terminals and busy intersections.
Seven years ago SANDAG and other agencies unveiled a $150 million expansion plan for the center that hasn’t happened. Now, my inewsource colleague Jennifer Bowman reports, SANDAG says it will become a “mobility hub,” under new plans.
These photos capture the scenes behind Jennifer’s story, which details the station’s history and the hopes and challenges for its future.
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A Blue Line trolley travels toward downtown San Diego, June 1, 2021.
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Issac Diaz, right, and his brother, Ulisses Diaz, look out the window of a Blue Line trolley en route to San Ysidro, June 1, 2021.
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Riders exit a Blue Line trolley at the San Ysidro Transit Center, June 17, 2021.
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Travelers cross Rail Court toward the San Ysidro Transit Center and the Port of Entry, May 27, 2021.
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Michelle Arenas waits with her three children for a shuttle bus to Las Vegas at the San Ysidro Transit Center, June 6, 2020. The family began their day of travel in Michoacán, where they were attending a wedding.
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A conductor drives a Blue Line trolley toward San Ysidro, June 1, 2021.
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Passengers ride the Blue Line toward downtown San Diego, May 20, 2021.
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Christopher Olvera waits with his two younger sisters for a ride at the San Ysidro Transit Center, June 14, 2021.
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Pedestrians are seen outside the window of a Blue Line trolley as it approaches the San Ysidro Transit Center, June 1, 2021.
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The tracks of the Blue Line are seen from inside a trolley heading toward downtown San Diego, June 1, 2021.
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Emmanuel Alvarado waits for an Uber driver to arrive at the San Ysidro Transit Center, June 3, 2021. He was traveling from Tijuana to attend his girlfriend's high school graduation.
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Eloisa Nuño sits on a bench at the San Ysidro Transit Center, June 17, 2021.
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A man runs across the trolley tracks at the San Ysidro Transit Center, June 25, 2021.