14 Yr Old Girl Taking Subway to School -- Would You Do It?

Updated on July 09, 2019
L.S. asks from Daly City, CA
17 answers

My daughter and her friend are starting a new school that's 15 miles away from home. My husband says the subway is the only option to get her there, but I'm not comfortable sending two 14 yr old girls by themselves into not the greatest area. The school itself is downtown (major West coast city). The trip takes about an hour and involves two train lines. Am I being too helicopter-ish, not wanting her to do this? I'd rather look for a carpool or pay a responsible adult to drive when I can't. School bus service is not offered.

Notes: I can do some of the driving but not all; other adults involved can't drive because of work schedules.
The school has a specific program my daughter is interested in, and there isn't a comparable one closer to home.

Any advice is appreciated -- thank you!

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So What Happened?

Hi everyone! Thank you for the kind replies. I appreciate that you took the time to share your thoughts.
I'm going to follow my instincts and put the kibosh on the daily subway commute, for the same reasons many of you mentioned. I trust my daughter and her friend but do NOT trust the characters in this city. There's always at least one sketch person every time I've taken the subway and if something bad were to happen, I'd never forgive myself.
We wrestled with the decision to send her to this school, but it's a shot at a good education in a field she dreams of working in. I want to give her a chance to succeed, even if it isn't convenient for me. If things don't work out, we'll try something else -- but hey, at least I'll know we tried!

Featured Answers



answers from New York on

Writing from New York City - that happens all the time here. Kids get into competitive selective high schools that they do not live close to but kid+parents are all just happy for the opportunity to attend.

Do a trial run with her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

No, I would not be comfortable with having her commute without an adult. You do realize that if the other girl could not go any specific day she would be traveling alone. Sorry, but I would not have let her apply to this school without a better plan. It’s a tough call now that she has been accepted and plans to go but there is still time to put the brakes on.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Norfolk on

That sounds like a really difficult commute.
In 27 years of working I've never had a commute that long.
It was usually 20 minutes - although with the right circumstances of accidents in strategic places I sometimes got caught in a traffic jam lasting more than 4 hours.
I knew people that did long commutes - and longer than an hour - 2 to 3 hours one way - and they end up living in their car - it's no way to live.

In order to be fully involved in school you need to stay after school, get involved in clubs, sports, band, what ever interests her - and she's going to be living her life commuting to and from school.
What if she gets sick and needs to come home?
Who is going to go get her and take her to a doctor?
You are going to spend so much in commuting costs - will she have money for college?
I know she's interested in a particular program but I would not be comfortable with her traveling so far from home at 14 years old.
School is a big part of your year - 10 months long - until she graduates.

Also - some schools have a major problem with students who attend who are not from their school district - it's simply not allowed in some places and if caught she would get expelled.

I wouldn't trust Uber - we've had attempted abductions near where I am.
Finding someone for her to commute with where her school schedule and their work schedule would be compatible would be tough too.

In your place I never would have allowed her to apply for that school - she'd have to go somewhere local.
What her friends parents do is their problem but it's just as bad for the friend.
Either that or move closer to the school - or - find a friend for her to board with and she can come home on weekends - which I would not like.
She'll be off to college soon enough so there's no need to rush for her to be boarding somewhere else.

What would you do if she starts off to school one day, she never arrives and you never hear from her again?
Where would you begin to look?
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are full of people who thought it could never happen to them.
I might be on the paranoid side but I wouldn't want my kid ending up as a statistic.
Sometimes a parent has to say 'No' whether the kid likes it or not.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Kids in NYC take the subway at younger ages than that.
Are you talking about BART? Are they going to school in SF? BART has it's issues but if they are traveling during regular commute hours they should be fine. I was taking BART from Hayward to Berkeley with friends when I was that age.
Traffic will be a nightmare for ALL of you so why not try it? You can go with them at first to make sure they know where to go and what to do if they have any trouble.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My 14 year old takes a bus into the city with friends, which involves transfers, and it's often full of commuters. I know not same thing as subway, but it's packed and busy in rush hour traffic. So ... similar and gets off in the heart of our city. At first, I was skeptical but my husband reminded me he did this as a kid and I did at 18 - so I think what's key is going with her/them first if you're going to try it out to see if they can manage it.

The hour long part is lengthy, however, as a kid my bus ride to school was an hour in the morning and back at end of day. My ride to work as an adult was 45 minutes. Longer if there was a traffic jam.

I guess it depends on everyone's circumstances.

So it really depends on your comfort level and getting your daughter used to the ride. Once they know where to go - it's the same thing day in/day out.

Good luck :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I personally would not be comfortable with her having to change trains but more than that I think that an hour commute to and from school is just too long.

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answers from Chicago on

I grew up in a city and my family did not have a car, so riding public transportation was something I did fairly comfortably from age 9. I say "fairly", because I did have some issues over the years, things that made me uncomfortable, including a bus driver coming on to me on an otherwise empty bus when I was 13, and a man fondling himself next to me on a crowded train when I was in high school.

I say these things not to scare you off, but to ask you to think about what her route will be, who will be on that route, and how to empower your daughter about what to do if she needs help. I was too embarrassed to say anything at the time, so I wish that someone had helped me discover my voice.

Personally, I think 14 is a fine age to learn to travel around a city, especially if she will mostly be doing this with a friend. My own kids were definitely taking public transportation to the city regularly by that age, although their high school was walking distance. Cell phones definitely helped me feel better, we are always just a text/call away if needed, and we would often pick them up if it was a late night until they were pretty much grown, so I do have a little helicopter parent in me too. These are not easy issues. Most people are good, the greater dangers statistically are within the home, but still, we all read the news, and bad things do happen. It's hard to let that go, but also important I think.

My high school was a magnet school so everyone was coming from some distance. At that time, there were not other good options, and I would have been especially upset if there was a program I was really interested in and couldn't attend because of distance. This is common in many big cities. I would think that if your daughter's school is in a city she would have plenty of company on the subway. Maybe teach her to sit in the front car where there is a conductor.

At my school, if there were things going on after school or at night, many students used public transportation, some parents would drive. Think about what you are able/willing to do during the school year, encourage your daughter to think about what she will do with her traveling time (downtime? homework?) to make sure she knows what she is committing to.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

My kids took the subway to school, an hour each way, when we lived overseas. It was a fact of life for us. I couldn’t drive over there, and they had swim practices after school each day. It made for long days. They did homework on the train and became very used to their surroundings.

We were in a very safe country, and that is possibly different from the train your daughter and her friend will be taking. I would recommend that you go with them for a while. I did this myself - it was like a part-time job for me, going on the train in the afternoons and coming home with them. ( My kids were younger than yours.)

Doing this will help you figure it out.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

There are some popular Catholic schools on the outskirts of Boston that a lot of suburban kids get to via the subway/train. The one I'm most familiar with isn't in the greatest part of the city, but the subway riders in the morning are mostly people on their commute to work and in the afternoon, it's students and people who work early shifts (nurses, office workers who do a non-traditional schedule, etc.). If I take the train home mid-afternoon, there are lots of high school kids on it from various schools. My sister, friends and I frequently rode the subway into Boston from the suburbs in high school to go shopping, to concerts, take classes, etc. And that was before we had cell phones - I think if you put an app on her phone like Life360 or have apple products that you can track, that might give you peace of mind that all is well.

Perhaps it would make sense to do a trial run with her and her friend? Summer won't be quite the same as a lot of people are on vacation and students wouldn't be riding, but it might give you a sense for how secure the ride is, how easy it is to get from train to train, how long it will take, etc. Even if you find that you can drive more often than not, or decide to carpool or whatever, having this as an option can be a convenient back up. One thing I've experienced with my high school age kids is that their schedules change from season to season, year to year, even day to day to accommodate sports, arts and other activities, mid year and final exams, etc. So having multiple options that you're comfortable with would be a good idea and give you and your daughter the most flexibility.

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answers from Chicago on

Do some trial runs. Make sure you give them a battery phone charger so their phone never stops working, give them pepper spray, and send them off. 14 is the right age to start learning how to navigate the big bad world. At 13 I took the train into Chicago and went to sketchy parts. I had my pepper spray. No phone.

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answers from Boston on

Girls took the train to the private middle school my daughters attended. So they were even younger. Train does seem safer but it’s not that different. I know lots of kids who have taken trains and subways in HS. I wouldn’t love the idea either but together I think they’ll be fine. Rush hour means lots of eyes. I’d not let her alone probably or at night.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to mamapedia, L..

Are the girls responsible? If so? Why not? Go with them the first few times and then let them do their thing.

If they are going on BART during normal commuting hours? They should be fine.

The length of time? ONE HOUR?? that's a long time. Why can't someone drive them? Why do they have to go to THAT school? You as the parent CHOSE that school without considering the commute? WHY???

While you have reasons for choosing this school. You chose it. Now you need to deal with it. Either drive her or trust her.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Honestly it all depends how safe the area is and how responsible these two girls are.
I lived in NY and back in the days I hated taking the train anywhere. Always a pervert on or some weirdo.. but honestly it was never in the mornings.

Having a daughter now, no I would not be comfortable sending her on a train ride with transfers 1 hour away. It’s too far if takes an hour... would you drive an hour to work? No it’s too far.
Plus I know way too many things now add the social media ( something my parents never had to deal with). Add how long ago I took the train, there might be the same amount of sickos, weirdos and pervert but we sure know about it a lot faster.. and more detailed! So thinking about it-NO.
I honestly don’t care what I am called I rather be overprotective vs something happening. I would either adjust my schedule or find a friend to drive, Uber ( known driver) or move if it’s some phenomenal program.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

whew! that's a brutal commute! did you not take that into consideration before selecting this school?

that being said, i think 14 is plenty old enough to use public transportation, especially if there's two of them. i'm sure my experience isn't comparable at all (bermuda in the 60s and 70s is not like a major modern american city) but i was taking the public bus to school and everywhere else by age 7. we didn't have school buses.

but dang. an hour and a line change. that's intense.

i'd do a few trial runs with both of them and make sure they're comfortable and confident with it. then i'd still drive and carpool when available. just use the subway when necessary.

make sure you come up with emergency scenario handling (what to do if there's a shooter, or a creep) and practice.

but an urban kid should be able to navigate this without it being a huge issue.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

that's a long commute for a 14 year old. If she's responsible and knows how to take care of herself and not get wrapped up in her phone or tablet? Then she should be fine. Find out if the school opens early. Maybe they have a shuttle that meets at one of the subway stations to pick the kids up that do commute that way?

I see in your SWH that you have made the decision to not let her do the subway. Making time to commute her yourself might be the way to go. If you drive her? There are many schools that open early and have staff on-board to be there when kids get in early.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think that pretty normal cause she is pretty grown up and can do it,but look for her good.



answers from Dallas on

I am boys and live near Dallas TX and there is no way I would have let them at that age ride any form of public transportation without an adult. I have ridden on the buses up there a few times once I was an adult and did not feel the safest. There are too may weirdos out there.

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