When people talk about how bad the neighborhood at certain college/university I always laugh. I mean, no school is going to have the perfect atmosphere. If you aren't used to noise at night, stores on every corner, maybe a few dope fiends (excuse my bluntness), a sense of crowded-ness, and some trash here or there then the neighborhood may seem rough to you, but most of us who live in the urban section of big cities are used to this (speaking generally, not directly to the posters)
The area around Howard isn't all that bad though, contrary to popular belief. Just like when people hear Temple or Rutgers-Newark, they automatically assume the area is bad because of the cities they're in, but if you actually see it and experience it, its not totally bad.
As for the transit, I heard the metro is great, but also expensive.