How NYC Teens Adapted to Traveling During Pandemic

Image by Anadia Jaghai

It’s no secret that NYC school students rely on different travel options across the city for school and in their daily lives. Many take buses and trains in order to go to the school they attend outside their neighborhood. And because Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA) attracts students from all over the city, they rely on the MTA even more.

NYC public schools usually distribute student Metrocards to eligible students who can use either a full or half fare free Metrocard to travel to and from school and school-related activities by bus and subway with no cost.

This year’s student Metrocards expired at the end of June 2020, which was when shops and businesses were finally opening up from the quarantine. When teens decided to stretch out their legs many realized they couldn’t afford to travel because their Metrocards had expired.

And now that the majority of students are doing remote learning they won’t be receiving free Metrocards anymore.

Many families and teens lost their jobs during the pandemic and had to rationalize their resources. With buying groceries, hygienic products, and even supplies for class the pandemic has been financially hard for everyone.

 “I’ve been limiting my traveling due to the lack of school aid, and traveling around the city is expensive,” says Maria Baez, a 17 year old art student attending Gramercy Arts High school. “Most difficult because there are job shortages and funding transportation has been most difficult. It’s just very expensive,” she said.

For students like Maria who rely on the bus and subway every day, traveling accounts for a huge percentage of their personal finances. Some students have families that can barely afford that daily need as it is. Some students find it as a means to save and although they don’t rely on it, it’s nice to have.

“I rely on school Metrocards, but sometimes I buy my own. My routine is rather long since I live about an hour away from FSSA. It’s usually hectic because everyone is going to work. I do travel outside of school to go buy supplies or to just relax,” says Monserrat Chavez, a 17 year old Fine Arts major at FSSA.

Other students decided to adapt to other inexpensive forms of transportation as a way to find a new hobby and cut the cost of travel such as biking and taking walks. It was also appreciated that during the pandemic the cost of traveling was free.

“I primarily rely on public transportation. But if the location isn’t too far I bike or scooter. I used to rely on school Metrocards, but now that’s over,” Anadia Jaghai, an 18 year old film major attending SVA and former FSSA student said.

“I don’t believe access to transportation has been difficult because it was free, it’s been more sanitary,” she added.

While the pandemic certainly had its advantages and disadvantages regarding traveling financially, that hasn’t stopped teens from adapting to new forms of transportation.

– by Jamea Blocken ‘21