On Tuesday, the MTA announced plans to allow parents to bring open strollers on 1,000 buses across the city.
The move expands on a pilot launched in September that allowed riders to bring strollers on 140 buses serving seven of the agency’s routes. The program was launched after parents raised concerns over an MTA policy that required them to fold their strollers and carry their young children while riding buses.
The expansion covers nearly one-fifth of the MTA’s bus fleet. The exact bus lines and neighborhoods where parents can ride with strollers will be announced in the coming weeks, MTA officials said.
Last year, disability rights advocates raised concerns that wheelchair users and parents with strollers would compete for seats, possibly leading to confrontations. But MTA officials said those conflicts didn’t arise during the pilot.
“The feedback from our customers and our operators has been overwhelmingly positive and we have no reported incidents related to open strollers on our pilot buses,” said Frank Annicaro, the MTA’s head of buses.
Annicaro said the agency clocked roughly 2,500 riders with strollers on buses since the pilot launched.
The strollers were most present on the B1 route between Bay Ridge and Manhattan Beach. MTA officials said 676 riders brought strollers on the route since September.
The MTA plans to install better signage so riders know which buses allow strollers. Currently, riders only know whether open strollers are allowed on a bus if there’s a blue stroller sticker near the front door.
“The small amount of research on this problem showed that making a new space for strollers on buses worked well in other places,” wrote Jessica Murray, who chairs the Advisory Committee on Transit Accessibility to the MTA, in an email. “Most importantly, it didn’t interfere with the hard-fought accessible seating area that people with disabilities need to be able to ride the bus, took pressure off bus operators to enforce an unpopular policy, and made space for more passengers during peak times.”
Jessica De La Rosa, a disability rights advocate, remained skeptical that wheelchairs and strollers can coexist peacefully on buses. She told Gothamist that she expects confrontations to increase as the pilot expands.
“It’s a pain in the ass and it’s aggravating,” said De La Rosa. “Children outgrow strollers, people with a disability never outgrow their wheelchairs.”