LOCAL L.A. Now

Students ditch the car and hop on the train to get to their proms

In the run-up to prom, Golden Valley High School in Santa Clarita made its students a special offer. Whoever won a raffle would get to ride in a school-sponsored limo with their friends while the rest of the class took a Metrolink train.

It didn’t go as planned.

“It was hard just to sell the raffle tickets,” said Vincent Wheeler, an administrator at Golden Valley. “The students were like, ‘This is great, but, uh, we want to take the train.’”

Students from A.B. Miller High School in Fontana disembark the Metrolink train after arriving at Union Station to attend their prom. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Students from A.B. Miller High School in Fontana leave the platform after disembarking a Metrolink train after arriving at Union Station from Fontana. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Say what you will about Southern California’s car-obsessed culture, but for two high schools in L.A. County, public transportation was the vehicle of choice for that most American of rituals.

Two trains packed with glitzy commuters sporting corsages and boutonnieres departed for Union Station on Saturday evening. One carried more than 500 students from A.B. Miller High School in Fontana. Another ferried about 500 Golden Valley students who made their connection to the red line and traveled on to Madame Tussauds Hollywood.

“I think it’s awesome because I do get anxiety on the freeway, and there’s no traffic when you’re on a train.”

— Vanessa Rivera, A.B Miller student


Students from A.B. Miller High School in Fontana walk through Union Station to their dining area after arriving via the Metrolink train to attend their prom. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Girls with flowing prom dresses from A.B. Miller High School in Fontana walk through Union Station. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

There were no quiet cars on the prom trains — students sang and joked. Girls tried not to sweat off their makeup; boys tried not to sweat through their suit jackets.

“Even though we have a station here in Fontana, most of the kids have never ridden the train,” said Moises Merlos, principal of A.B. Miller. “This is probably a new experience for 98% of them.”

Travelers at Union Station greeted the glamorous procession of high school students with cheers and whistles. “Are you really all from the same school?” asked a man, a huge smile on his face.

I like the idea behind it - more safety and less drunk driving and all that.

— Lesley Cervantes, A.B Miller student

Passengers waiting for trains watch as students from Fontana make their way through Union Station to attend their prom. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
The late afternoon sun pours through Union Station as students from A.B. Miller High School in Fontana make their way to the historic ticketing area in the station to attend their prom. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Students from A.B. Miller High School in Fontana walk through Union Station. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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