How old before a child can take the bus or subway alone?

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At what age can a child take public transportation alone?

  1. Age 18

    6 vote(s)
  2. Age 17

    3 vote(s)
  3. Age 16

    8 vote(s)
  4. Age 15

    6 vote(s)
  5. Age 14

    6 vote(s)
  6. *

    Age 13

    8 vote(s)
  7. *

    Age 12

    8 vote(s)
  8. *

    Age 11

    4 vote(s)
  9. Age 10

    1 vote(s)
  10. Age 9

    0 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Last year, New York Sun columnist Lenore Skenazy left her 9-year-old son at a Manhattan Bloomingdale's with a subway map, a metro card and $20. The boy made it home safe and sound but she took a lot of heat for that decision.

    In my opinion 9 is very young to travel alone but what is an appropriate age? What do you guys think? I'll post a poll.
  2. I think each and every single child is totally different and it depends on how mature they are.
  3. ^Yes. I was taking public transport by myself when I was 10, but I don't think my son is mature enough to do that yet...and may not be so next year either.
  4. Geez..a 9 yr old alone to take the New York ? Noooo waaaay

    I don't think I'd ever let my kids do that if I lived there. Heck, they'd have to be 16 AT LEAST
  5. i totally agree. it depends on the city too. i'm 30 years old and my DH did not let me take LA public transportation alone (LOL), he was so afraid about it. in other cities like Boston taking public transportation is no big deal, i would use it every day w/o problems.

    if i had a 9 year old, i probably wouldn't let a kid take the NYC subway alone. but that's just me. i've seen parents do far worse things to a kid. i don't think the columnist should be criticized just for doing that.
  6. Oh, that is way too young, especially in this day and age. My daughter is 9 and we don't live in NYC, and I still won't let her out riding her bike by herself, or walk to school or anything like that.

    I just won't do it.

    I went to school in NYC, and that woman is seriously insane. I agree, she should have gotten heat for that.
  7. I started going to kindergarten alone at 5 (walking a few blocks) and using public transportation at 7 alone.
  8. never..j/k

    I really don't know.
  9. When we lived in Brooklyn, I was getting off the school bus and walking a block to our apartment at age 6. Once, I fell asleep on the bus and missed my stop...boy my mom was worried! I agree that every child is different, but I would never expect any 9 year old to be able to navigate the subways on their matter how familiar s/he is with them and especially if they had to take a busy line.
  10. I think it depends on the kid. Some are more independent then others.
  11. It totally depends on the kid.

    I grew up in Brooklyn and I walked to the school bus stop by myself at 7 (few blocks) and took the bus myself at 11. My middle brother, on the other hand, could not be trusted by himself because he would just spend all day in the video store playing street fighter and would never come home. I had to walk him home until he was 11 at which point he started walking with his friends. My baby brother is 13 and I would not trust him to take himself anywhere now, he's just too clueless.
  12. I've lived in Europe where ALL kids take the subways unless their parents pick them up. They're shown how to do it, and it's completely accepted. I think it's up to the environment and the kid. And WHICH subway line...
  13. My mom taught me how to read the bus map when I was 11, and I started taking the bus then, and the subway probably about a year later (at that point, I was allowed to go further away from my house, so using the subway just came naturally). I think it depends on the city. I grew up in Toronto, where the bus system was okay. I think the NYC system is similar actually. But in a place like LA, I don't think kids should be allowed to take the bus.

    Kind of OT because it's not related to safety, but I have friends whose parents never taught them how to use public transportation, and they still cannot read a street map if their life depended on it. They can't figure out where they are, which direction is north/south/east/west (when I give them directions, I have to tell them to turn left or right), they need basic directions even to places they've been to before because they aren't used to paying attention to where they are going, and they generally don't have an idea of "where" exactly they are in relation to the rest of the city. Now that the technology is available, they just drive everywhere and use navigators. I think it's kind of's important for people to learn basic everyday geography skills and I think using public transport kind of gives you a crash course on it.
  14. I didn't do the poll because to me, there are so many factors to be considered. Maturity level of the child. How street smart they are. The city. The method of transportation...... I will say that Lenore Who-Ever-She-Is is not a very bright woman. And for me, that's putting it nicely. But whatever. I personally wouldn't let my child travel alone in NYC or any other city now and she's 15.

    Last year, my daughter participated in a charity walk in DC. We drove her there and stayed until it was over. She met up with some members of a particular fan club she belongs to. Three of the girls (not only unrelated to each other but had also never met each other) live in another state. They were 13. Each of their mothers dropped them off at the metro that morning and they rode into DC alone for the walk and spent the rest of the day there sightseeing on their own before taking the metro back home alone that evening. I couldn't believe it.
  15. I was 12 years old when I started taking the bus to the mall alone. My parents didn't let my brother do this until he was 15 years old. It also depends on the maturity of the child.

    When that time comes for my kids to take the bus alone, it won't be until they are in there teens or they will be getting drives from either my DH or I.