Would you let your kids ride Muni alone?

Photo by Jessica Druck

Last week on Twitter someone remarked, “I would probably never let my 10-year-old ride Muni alone.


I am not a parent so I don’t feel that I am an expert on matters of child safety, but I am guessing that a lot of parents don’t have the option to drive their children to school or arrange some other transportation option.

There’s been many reports of violence on the bus, and you may recall the 2009 story about a 11-year-old boy who got stabbed on the bus the first time he rode Muni. So the concern is understandable. On the Muni Diaries Facebook page, a reader asked if the question of letting your child ride Muni alone is the same issue as “would you let your child walk to school alone?”

Granted, at least on the bus, there is a driver who can keep the peace. Parents: Would you let your 10-year-old ride Muni alone?


  • When I was a kid I took Long Beach Transit to school from 3rd grade to 8th grade every day; two separate busses to my school that was 7 miles away, by myself.
    I survived, but I don’t think I’d be so comfortable letting my 12 year old take muni by herself.
    –Andrea, latch-key kid.

  • phlavor

    My son has ridden MUNI since age 13 when he moved here and he rides the 48 through the Potrero Hill projects. There have been incidents on buses he was on and he’s smart enough to know when to just get off.

    I used to ride the 19 between Potrero Hill and Civic Center. I would often see two girls on there around eight and six years old. I thought that they were too young to ride the bus alone and vowed to always keep an eye on them. After a few months of vigilance it dawned on me that everyone on the bus was doing the same thing. Those girls were probably safer on the bus than any other part of their journey to school.

  • Mayu

    I did ride MUNI when I was a kid starting from middle school so I think I was 11 or 12. I usually rode the 2 Cement or 1 California and I never experienced anything negative. The really interesting stuff started to happen when I started HS and had to take 3 busses (36 Teresita, 44 or 43 and the 38) to get to school. Stuff like old guys polishing their knobs on crowded busses, roaches falling out of one guys pants, peeing etc.

  • I grew up on the 49. My parents let my brother and me ride home by ourselves since fourth grade. They did it mostly out of necessity, but it made me the person I am, and I’m grateful for the experience.

  • Amy

    I started riding Muni to and from school when I was 9. I looked about 6. My mother had no other choice and she was probably scared to death but I survived. I didn’t have any problems on Muni until I was 18 – even then it was fairly minor, just sexual harrassment. (I’m not saying sexual harrassment is minor, just that I wasn’t physically hurt or anything. Just some bum touching my ass.)

    If I had to, I would let my kid ride Muni at the same age, with the very strict rule that he must sit in the front, where he can see the driver.

  • SFHope

    Think of it this way — statistically your kid is safer on Muni than if you drove them.

    For some reason when people think about the risks of letting their kid ride public transit, they completely fail to take into account the risks of driving them instead.

  • MDS

    My 10 year old took the #23 for the 2nd half of 5th grade by herself. Starting Monday, she’ll be taking the 24 and the 48 by herself to middle school.

    While the story about the 11 year old being attacked on Muni is horrible, I figure many more 40+ year old women have been attacked on MUNI and I still ride…

    I rode the NYC subways to HS during some pretty tough times (early 1980s). Public transportation is for the PUBLIC.

  • Henry Larry

    As a parent safety is paramount. While the idea of independence is appealing the risks associated with violence on public transportation can not be ignored. Until measures are in place to ensure safer travel it is a tough call to let a child ride Muni alone.
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