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Quality of Life

Photos: The Busy San Ysidro Transit Center

A Blue Line trolley travels toward downtown San Diego, June 1, 2021.
Zoë Meyers
A Blue Line trolley travels toward downtown San Diego, June 1, 2021.

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.