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MBTA in Boston considering ban on (unfolded) strollers

Update: It’s no surprise that the moms and dads of Boston would go up in arms over this. The MBTA is now saying they’ll try some other tactics for dealing with this issue. The Boston Globe reported yesterday that the information that came out around this was “vague”, “open-ended” and “imprecise” and the MBTA was not actually considering such a policy, rather they were “thinking about asking parents on some crowded bus lines to fold their strollers, if possible, to make more room.” Regardless of the real intentions, the survey posted by the MBTA has drawn over 11,000 votes (a record response for them), and will remain up through May 16. At the moment, the pro-stroller majority is holding steady at 65%.

According to this past Sunday’s Boston Herald, the MBTA is considering a ban on unfolded strollers on busses in in the Boston public transportation network. If they go through with it, any stroller brought onto a bus would need to be folded. This bus ban would be considered a “pilot program” and if it is successful, the T might enact a similar policy for trolleys and subway trains, too.

The MBTA General Manager Richard Davey says that strollers are the number one complaint he gets about the T, and Boston is one of the “few major transit systems in the country without a stroller policy.” That may be true, but from what I could find (and I couldn’t find much), those policies are usually only for busses, and only at peak times. The possibility of a blanket ban on open strollers on any part of the MBTA network seems like an extreme approach that would make it very challenging for many parents and caregivers to use public transportation.

Maybe that’s what they’re hoping for? But for families without a car or nannies who don’t drive, the MBTA is the best and most affordable link to many of Boston’s best attractions for children.

Look, I get it. If you’re a commuter on the T, strollers can be a pain in the neck. Even the small ones take up extra space. But so do suitcases. Are we banning airport travelers next?

In some cases, it would be fine for a parent or caregiver to fold the stroller. When you have an older toddler who can (hopefully) sit on his own while you juggle your purse, your diaper bag, and extract everything from the basket of your stroller, it’s not so bad.

But when you’ve got an infant, who is going to hold the baby AND all the stuff while you free up two hands to fold and stow the stroller? Certainly not the bus driver. And don’t even get me started on double strollers.

I do think there should be some guidelines for courtesy and safety when traveling on the T with a stroller, but they need to be realistic. It’s not easy. If a bus is packed with passengers, including a couple of strollers, and a wheelchair passenger is waiting to board, what should happen? I don’t know, but a wholesale ban on open strollers isn’t the right answer.

The MBTA is “testing the waters” on this issue with an online poll, and if this is an issue that’s important to you, speak up! You can also send your thoughts via Twitter to the MBTA General Manager.

3 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this news– I’ve already left my opinion at the MBTA. Let’s hope common sense prevails!!

  2. NYC bans unfolded strollers on all buses at all times, but has no restrictions for the subway (that I know of or that anyone observes at least). Of course all the stairs to just get down into the subway curbs its use by strollers anyway. Even though it was a pain when my son was younger, I think it makes sense for buses because there is SUCH limited space within them that asking people to almost climb over your stroller is unsafe. But I do wonder how safe it is to ask a parent or caregiver traveling alone (who isn’t lucky enough to get a seat) to somehow hold onto a folded stroller, diaper bag and a small child.

  3. Why stop there why not have people in wheelchairs get out and fold it up, hoping someone gives up a seat. I know this comment seems insensitive and even insane, but I have infant multiples and a toddler, so it is just as insane to ask people like me to fold up their strollers. I hope this did not pass.

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