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The Freshman Files: MTA: It’s Complicated

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Public transportation is one aspect of New York City that every student at Manhattan College loves to hate.

On one hand, some say we have it all. With one swipe of our metro cards we can be transported to anywhere we want in the greatest city in the world. The convenience is marveling and the inexpensiveness is unparalleled.

What we love about the subway or the bus is that it is truly a New York experience.

“When it works, it’s kind of a beautiful and seamless way of getting where you need to go so quickly, and there is almost always a story to tell by the end,” freshman Amanda Destaso said.

With an array of people cooped up together in subway cars, speaking different languages, wearing different clothes and hailing from all different social classes, there is “no other place in the world like it,” freshman Francesca Preti said.

And even though public transportation is so vast, it finds ways to be comfortingly personal.

Daniel Cassissa, a freshman from Staten Island, is no stranger to the metro system and has been taking the train alone since seventh grade.

“When you take it often enough, you get to know some characters,” Cassissa said. “People who always talk to you or give you high fives during the commute. It’s nice that in a city with millions of people you can still feel like it is a small world.”

On the flipside, subways and buses tend to be overcrowded with “rude drivers and rude passengers rushing to get to the next part of their lives,” freshman Chris Oliveira said. The MTA is also incredibly unreliable; trains get taken out of service and don’t always get you where you need to be on time.

Safety is another issue at the forefront of public transportation.

“One Friday night I saw two guys start to beat a 40-year-old man on the subway platform, for what looked like no reason. After that I realized how careful and aware you have to be,” Oliveira said.

When asked if they would take the subway alone, most people said yes. “I have pepper spray in my purse, just in case,” freshman Ali Ward said.

But, most people prefer to take it with a friend, just in case they get lost.

“It’s much more fun getting lost with a friend, it’s like going on an adventure,” freshman Amanda Destaso said.

While a lot of students who go to MC are from the tri-state area, many students are from areas all over the country, and a handful from around the world. The freshman class alone has students from Hawaii and Albania.

Part of the intimidation of public transportation is the fact that it is brand new.

“I’m from the South, so it was scary getting on the subway for the first time,” Ward said.

As extremely urban college students, we will just have to get used to the idea that MTA is here to stay. So download Hopstop or Embark NYC for navigation and enjoy the ride.