It appears that the Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority is considering banning open strollers on buses, and is even considering future expansion of this ban to subway trains.
This is problematic for any parent who uses public transportation, and especially so for parents and other caregivers who rely on public transportation to get around. According to this Herald article, MBTA general manager Richard Davey says that “The number-one complaint that I have received since I have been here is strollers.” People hate strollers on buses and subways. To some extent, we’re sympathetic. People sometimes take very large strollers on crowded subways (or even on buses) and that does produce problems for everyone. Even compact umbrella strollers can be a nuisance, but then so can luggage, backpacks, and, frankly, people. If fewer people were clogging up the buses and subway cars, I could stretch out a little.
But it is unrealistic to expect parents to always fold strollers, particularly on the subway. On a crowded bus, I can understand a driver asking a passenger to fold a stroller in order to accommodate more passengers getting on (which drivers currently do). Some other cities do have this requirement. But it can be extremely difficult for parents, especially those of us with multiple children, to juggle an infant or toddler, a backpack or bag, and an older child along with a folded stroller. It would certainly be disruptive to other passengers (toddlers who are strapped in are much easier to deal with), require much more time for boarding and exiting, and be potentially dangerous if seats were not available (although I have found that passengers will almost always offer me a seat if I have children with me).
The fact of the matter is that what is really inconvenient and annoying is having children on trains and buses at all. They are noisy, come with too much gear, pick their noses openly, and smell bad. It would be easier and more pleasant for many if children were simply banned from public transportation. Or better yet, from public. But sorry folks, I’m a parent and I have a need to ride on trains and buses with my kids, so I’m going to keep bringing them with me. And it’s better for all of us for me not to buy an SUV. Many thanks to the vast majority of you who smile at my kids when they are cute and tolerate them when they are not. If you want to be a voice in support of having family-friendly transit, let the MBTA general manager know that even if a stroller ban may be popular, it’s not OK to throw parents under the bus. You can leave a comment for the MBTA at this link or tweet the general manager at @mbtagm.
Update: The MBTA has a one-question survey up about this, simply asking if parents should be required to fold strollers before boarding a bus. I wish they were doing something a bit more nuanced than a yes/no popularity contest, but I left some of my thoughts in the comments.