Babies on board! MTA expands pilot program giving space for strollers on buses

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is increasing its pilot program offering space for strollers on metropolis buses, citing overwhelmingly optimistic suggestions from stakeholders throughout a four-month trial run.

The program is ready to broaden to 1,000 buses on strains in all 5 boroughs, up from the 142 on seven strains below the auspices of the pilot, began in September. The buses, denoted by exterior decals, function devoted space for stroller customers, made both by eradicating seats close to doorways or by folding up collapsible seats.

“This will provide increased coverage and enable us to get even more feedback over the next several months, and determine what our next steps are,” mentioned Frank Annicaro, senior vp of the MTA’s bus division, at a press convention on the Higher East Aspect Tuesday.

The brand new routes to be served by stroller buses haven’t but been unveiled.

The pilot commenced after a evaluate of the MTA’s erstwhile ban on unfolded strollers on buses — ostensibly to forestall aisle blockage — by an company working group, composed of fogeys, caregivers, incapacity advocates, and transit employees. It got here after months of MTA board conferences populated by enraged mothers, deeming MTA buses a “nightmare” for caregivers with kids.

Almost a 12 months later, after intense deliberations between stakeholders and 4 months of the pilot below its belt, the MTA is declaring it successful. The announcement was a blissful one for many mother and father, who had beforehand been pressured to break down their stroller and maintain their baby themselves, lest they get kicked off the bus.

An M31 bus sporting a decal denoting stroller accessibility.Marc A. Hermann / MTA

“The bus used to be a mode of transit that caretakers could not physically manage or opted out of, because it was too difficult and unsafe to take children out of the stroller. Parents and caretakers say this pilot is life-changing,” mentioned Christine Yearwood, head of fogeys’ advocacy group UP-STAND and a member of the working group, on the press convention.

“It gives children so many more opportunities to learn and grow,” Yearwood continued, “to be able to access more city institutions, libraries, community centers, museums, parks, daycare, schools, activities, and medical appointments, safely and with ease. It also allows parents to be part of the city, it gives us choice and opportunity in our work and personal lives. It is a huge improvement in quality of life for us.”

Riders Alliance, the straphangers’ advocacy group, additionally praised the pilot’s growth.

“As predicted, permitting open strollers on buses works and welcomes more New Yorkers on board,” mentioned Riders Alliance Government Director Betsy Plum in a press release. “MTA leaders successfully gathered stakeholder input and piloted the new program on several routes. We’re very pleased to see this inclusive program now opening new routes to strollers in every borough as part of a robust second phase.”

Key among the many stakeholders to present the thumbs up have been members of the disabled neighborhood, who had pushed again on the program fearing it’d result in decreased accessible space on buses for individuals with disabilities. However the piloted stroller space finally didn’t take away any space already designated for individuals with disabilities, main advocates to present their seal of approval.

“They won’t take our space, that was our first priority,” mentioned Elizabeth Valdez, programs advocate on the Brooklyn Heart for the Independence of the Disabled and a working group member, in an interview. “And the second one is, if they have their own designated space, then they’re not obstructing the aisle when a wheelchair user has to come in and out.”

Valdez mentioned that each of these points had been adequately addressed to the purpose disabled New Yorkers might help the program. “I think it’s great,” she mentioned. “I wish they would now make it for two strollers, the same way they have the space for two wheelchairs.”

The one excellent unease comes from the unions. Annicaro mentioned on the press convention that suggestions from transit workers was primarily optimistic, although there have been some considerations about signage and messaging.

“Last week, I was fortunate to meet with a core group of our operators driving on these seven lines and personally listen to their feedback. It was very positive,” mentioned Annicaro. “Many finding that the new policy actually often sped up the boarding process. They also noted that there were no real complaints from non-stroller customers.”

Nonetheless, a spokesperson for Transport Staff Union Native 100, which represents hundreds of rank-and-file transit workers within the 5 boroughs, mentioned outlying considerations stay because the MTA expands the pilot, notably on the potential for disputes amongst riders over the brand new seating areas — altercations that will probably fall on bus drivers to resolve.

“We remain concerned about this pilot program and will continue to monitor it very closely,” the TWU spokesperson advised amNewYork Metro. “There’s the potential for disputes between riders, and other problems, that could lead to Bus Operators getting assaulted.”

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