Photos by Lucia Amieva-Wang Text by Lucia Amieva-Wang and Jenny Tseng
The Bus Ride Home
Slightly out of breath from running the last stretch to the bus station, Palo Alto High School seniors Brianna Moreno-Alcocer and Allison Salinas step onto SamTrans Bus 21, each swiping a reflective green card across the sensor in one smooth, practiced motion. Moreno-Alcocer slides into the row of seats first, placing her backpack on her lap as Salinas settles into the seat beside her.
A faint smell of diesel clings to the well-worn and patterned seat covers and the low hum of the bus engine thrums in the background as the vehicle pulls out of the station and onto University Avenue.
With her head resting comfortably on Moreno-Alcocer’s shoulder, Salinas interlocks their arms. They have been best friends since freshman year.
“I don’t even know how we became friends,” Salinas says. “I just needed someone to show me where the bus was.”
Both Moreno-Alcocer and Salinas receive a monthly bus pass from Palo Alto Unified School District’s Tinsley Voluntary Transportation Program. The VTP program, created in 1986, gives students of color from different districts the opportunity to attend school in PAUSD.
Moreno-Alcocer and Salinas take the SamTrans bus home to Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, respectively. Their bus ride home can take anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours. Though they have experienced harassment, unwanted comments and more, the bus ride to Paly is an opportunity for them to attend a safer high school with more resources, according to Moreno-Alcocer.
Though most students hardly think about their short journey home from school, Moreno-Alcocer’s and Salinas’ afternoons are consumed by their daily bus ride home. In this issue, Verde documents this uncommon, yet routine, journey home in a series of candid photographs.