Cash-strapped parents spoke in unified protest Saturday, blasting an MTA proposal that could yank free MetroCards from the hands of students.
"I am speaking for part-time working parents and we need this," Harris said. "A lot of us aren't making much money. It will mean some kids just not going to school."
"It's stupid," said Brittney Rojas, 13, as she walked down Bushwick Ave., in Brooklyn, with her three sisters. "If you live far away it means you can't afford to go to school."
"Some kids just won't go to school," her sister Chelsea, 12, chimed in. "Or some might have to walk outside in the winter and get sick."
The elimination of the freebies is just one of many budget-saving measures being discussed by MTA officials, including proposals to eliminate 21 local bus routes with low ridership.
"It would be a catastrophe," said Nateria Cannon, 17, an 11th-grader at Manhattan Village Academy who lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "I think it's crazy. Parents are losing their jobs and the fare went up. They would have to work overtime."
Eligibility for a free or discounted MetroCard is determined by a student's age and how far he or she lives from school - not income.
Mayor Bloomberg's education reforms, which include eliminating neighborhood high schools in many parts of the city, mean the proposal will likely hit high school students hardest.
"If you're going to eliminate neighborhood high schools as the mayor has in most of the city, it's absolutely critical to have free transportation for kids, especially because children are required by law to go to school," said Clara Hemphill, author of a New School report on the city's new system of smaller high schools.
"Some kids are traveling up to 90 minutes by public transportation," Hemphill said. "There's absolutely no way to get there without the subway and bus."
Politicians were disturbed by the news Saturday.
"We've sunk to a new low," Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said.
"The MTA faces critically important budget challenges. But we cannot look for fixes by hurting the most vulnerable."
It seems like New York public schools are getting less and less. My high-school had to cut paper from the budget in Junior year. Most schools have to share resources with others in their neighborhood. In elementary school, we were all required to bring toiler paper and soap in the first day- now some kids won't even get to school?