The MTA will begin allowing parents and care-givers to bring open strollers on some city buses, reversing a long-standing policy that required customers to fold their strollers before boarding.
The new pilot program will roll out next week on seven city bus routes, offering a dedicated area for strollers in place of two existing bus seats. The changes will not impact the priority seating area currently reserved for wheelchair users.
The move follows a campaign by parents, who said the stroller rules unfairly discriminated against those trying to move around the city with small children.
Danielle Avissar, an Upper East Side parent who spoke out about the issue at a recent MTA board meeting, told Gothamist she was heartened by the transit agency’s swift action.
“This has been an issue for many years, and this is something the city really needs,” Avissar said. “I’m very happy we’re seen as valued customers by the MTA, and that we don’t have to break our backs or buy cars or move to the suburbs.”
In response to parent concerns, the MTA said in March that it would consider allowing open strollers in the accessible seating section of buses. But that announcement prompted backlash from disability rights advocates, who said they were forced to rely on the tight accommodations given the lack of subway accessibility.
Transit officials said they arrived at a compromise by removing a pair of seats in the rear of some city buses, creating room for strollers without inconveniencing wheelchair users. On newer bus models, flip-up seats can make space for the carriages.
In a statement, the MTA’s chief accessibility officer, Quemuel Arroyo, said his definition of accessibility “includes parents, children and seniors, as well as riders with disabilities.”
“This pilot program was a direct result of the MTA accessibility and bus teams, disability advocates, parents, and bus operators coming together in a collaborative working group to address a concern that customers felt strongly about,” he added.
The pilot program will impact 142 buses across these seven routes: M31, B1, Bx23, Q50, Q12, S53 and S93. It will run for six months, as the transit agency evaluates any safety concerns.
The ban on bringing unfolded strollers onto city buses will remain in effect for routes not involved in the pilot.