Students Considering Risking Fines and Arrest Just to Get to School Thursday, January 21, 2010 By Hasna Ayadi '13
People of all ages are running through crowded subway stations trying to catch their train as it approaches the station. Adults and teens are swiping their metro cards, heading through the turnstiles. Public transportation is the number one way people travel throughout the city. According to secondavenuesagas.com, about 550,000 of these travelers are students using government funded metrocards. That is approximately $495 million per year the government pays for students. According to NY 1 on Sunday, December 15, 2009, Governor David Paterson said his hands were tied and he doesn’t have any resources to give to students. He claimed he hated the fact that he has to see free metrocards for city school kids taken away to fix the gap in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Some students live an average of 60 minutes from school, according to the Daily News newspaper. "I live all the way in Flushing and I go to school in Manhattan. That is about an hour and a half train ride. Without the metro cards I will struggle to go to school," a senior at Xavier High School said while looking for her metro card so she could get on the train. "I think it is absolutely wrong what the MTA is doing. I am a parent of four. How am I going to afford it when I lost my job?" A parent said angrily. Parents and students rely on student metro cards. Many parents are saying they won’t be able to afford to send their kids to school by public transportation. "I think it’s unfair to take advantage of students and families because the MTA and state of New York are in a budget crisis,” commented Meg Cain, a ninth grade teacher at The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria. Even residents who haven’t been in school for at least 10 years and don’t have kids, still think it is absolutely ridiculous. Taking away free metro cards from students is taking away "free" education if they have to pay to get there. According to The New York Times, the MTA can't do anything about it. They are struggling to fill a major deficit of 400 million dollars that has happened over the past few years. They have been discussing how to get rid of it in recent weeks. The MTA has $143 million in state cuts and payroll taxes below state projections. The MTA has also said they may need to eliminate 21 local bus routes, among other cutbacks. Starting mid-year, according to PIX 11 news station, fewer subway trains will run in the afternoon, evening and on the weekends. Two train lines—the W and Z—will stop running and the M and G lines will cut down their services. Many stations in Lower Manhattan will close over night, and dozens of bus lines throughout the five boroughs will be reduced or cut. Some kids are already thinking of ways to get to school without paying. "If New Yorkers wants us to get an education, how can we do that if we can't get to school?" Darija an eighth grader at TYLWS complains. Some are considering risking fines and arrest by jumping turnstiles. Cutting student metrocards will hurt families. "The government cutting metrocards is like telling us not to go to school," Ireen Hossain, a ninth grader said. Parents will be forced to spend more money so their children can attend school. Laura Mitchell, principal of The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, commented that, "It's a hardship on many families. Some families won't be able to afford it, so I hope the MTA reconsiders. As a tax payer, I would like to choose where my money goes." Hundreds of thousands of students are going to struggle as soon as the cuts take place. There were a couple of protests at City Hall; and students are mentioning they will skip a week of school in order to save money. Some families will be able to keep sending their kids to school but others are thinking of ways to save money so their children can continue to get an education. Public education is meant to be free and the MTA's budget deficit may take that away!