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How easy is it to bring babies and toddlers on Metrobus?

Buses are vital for families across the region but riding with a young child can be challenging. Families can make the ride better for both parents and kids with a little planning. And WMATA could help accommodate families with a more flexible stroller policy, by making the bus easier to board, and providing more real-time arrival information.

Photo by magalino on Flickr.

Living in the outskirts of Wheaton without a car and with a premature newborn son, I got used to the bus system very quickly. Like a lot of families in the region, our family rode the bus daily to get to the Metro for work, to buy groceries, and to visit doctors or friends.

Even after we moved back to the District and got a car, we found that local buses continued to be a convenient, cheap, and even fun way for our family to get around the greater Washington area.

Riding the bus has many advantages

If you asked our son, he'd probably say that riding the bus is the best way to get around. He is now over 2 years old and has sufficient verbal skills to express just how much he likes riding the bus, or, as he would say, "Bus. Bus! BUUUUSSSSS!"

I agree with him because the bus is a better option than driving or Metrorail for some of our regular trips. There's a Metrobus stop right at the entrance of our apartment complex that takes us close to some of our favorite destinations, avoiding both Metrorail's "last mile" challenge and the hassle of parking.

And, since I'm not driving, I'm free to enjoy my family's company on the trip. Our son likes the bus because he doesn't have to be strapped in a car seat as he does in the car, and there's more to see out the windows than on underground trains.

Photo by magalino on Flickr.

Not to say that riding the bus is entirely wonderful. We're all familiar with the horror stories from both sides of the kids-on-transit issue, including those of children who behave badly or scream for the entire trip and of seemingly oblivious parents. But there are also stories of passengers who fail to accommodate parents and children or who react with obvious disapproval when a child exhibits perfectly normal behavior.

However, it's important to remember that at least some of these horror stories can be prevented or mitigated.

Tips for riding the bus with a young child

As our son grew, we developed different strategies for bringing him on the bus with us. These tips may not work for everyone, but they certainly helped my family:

  • Newborn: When our son was a premature newborn and we were taking lots of multimodal trips (mostly buses and cabs) to visit specialists, we relied on a snap-in frame with an infant car seat that had a special insert for very small babies. Generous fellow passengers frequently helped me carry this rig (dismantled, of course) onto the bus.
  • Infant: When our son was about 3-months old, I switched to a sling or harness to carry him on the bus. This was both faster and easier than constantly collapsing and reassembling a stroller. It also kept him shielded from potentially germy strangers.
  • Toddler: Once our child was able to sit up straight and stand on his own as a toddler, I used a folding umbrella stroller for our bus rides. This has been a great tool for both local and inter-city bus trips because it collapses easily and is quite compact when folded (though it's still too long to fit under the sideways seats on Metrobuses and trains).
I hope these tips can help encourage parents living in the city with their children to consider including local buses among their transportation options.

A few policies or technologies can help as well

One of the worst bus trips I ever had with my son was a stressful crosstown trip to the hospital during his nap time. He wasn't happy that I had to wake him every 20 minutes to get him in and out of his stroller for transfers. If I could have let him sleep for the entire trip, he'd have been happier, I'd have been happier, and all of our fellow bus passengers would have been happier.

This experience taught me how helpful it would be if we could bring unfolded umbrella strollers on Metrobuses. Believe me, I would have been thrilled to stand through our entire hour-and-a-half trip if it meant that my son could have had his much-needed afternoon nap. There are plenty of times when my son and I can sit in a 2-person bench like adult passengers, but it would improve Metrobus' accessibility to families if their policies made some accommodation for times when that's not feasible.

Another feature that would benefit bus-riding families is automatic kneeling. Bus drivers don't always notice that I have a child with me, or if they do, they don't always seem to realize what a big step up the bus is for a little child and a woman carrying 20 pounds of gear. It would be helpful for parents and other similarly burdened passengers to be able to count on having the bus lowered to curb level.

I'm lucky that I can use my phone to check WMATA's NextBus website to find the real-time bus information for our most commonly used stops and routes. If I didn't have that resource, however, taking the bus with a small child would be an immensely frustrating experience. While some children are perfectly happy to sit for 20 minutes or more at a bus stop surrounded by all kinds of intriguing trash and a wide-open street just begging to be played in, my son is not one of them.

Being able to check NextBus on my phone and time our arrival at the stop just in time to fold up the stroller and board the bus has been an absolute godsend. If instead I had to wait for at a bus stop with my son without knowing when the next bus was actually arriving, I would probably avoid taking the bus altogether.

WMATA has been talking about adding real-time arrival signs to more bus stops so everyone can have access to this information. The sooner they can move the program forward as quickly and comprehensively as possible, the better

Photo by magalino on Flickr.

Even with all the ups and downs of riding the bus, I've found that it can be a source of wonderful time spent with my son. We recently visited friends in Brooklyn whose son is close in age to our own. The sight of 2 little boys happily plopping themselves into seats on the bus after a full morning of adventure is one of my favorite memories of that trip.

So make your own memories and happy riding!

Cross-posted at Big Orange Bike.


Add a comment »

Can we get a ban on those double-wide strollers-cum-sidewalk plows on Metro?

by Banksy on Jun 27, 2012 2:12 pm • linkreport

@Banksy, that would be a terrible and dangerous idea. Parents of twins or parents of a toddler & infant need double strollers. If they were forced to fold them to board metro they would have to carry 2 babies, diaper bag/ purse and a stroller through a crowded metro station and onto a train. That is just a dangerous scenario for everyone.

by Keren on Jun 27, 2012 2:42 pm • linkreport

So what it boils down to is this: everybody has got to be polite and respectful.

Parents must remember that their children are not the center of the world to everyone else.

Non-parents must remember that they should be able to control their emotions better than children & give parents who are having a hard time a break.

Why is this so hard in DC?

by mch on Jun 27, 2012 3:09 pm • linkreport

I haven't see any evidence that it actually is, mch.

by selxic on Jun 27, 2012 3:23 pm • linkreport

selxic: I didn't mean to be negative. If you look at past posts about children/strollers/pregnant women on transit, there always seem to be two camps of people. I hope that I'm wrong & that we are all more accommodating to each other.

by mch on Jun 27, 2012 3:47 pm • linkreport

@Keren: There are strollers that hold two kids but aren't double-wide, and they work much better in crowded areas than the double-wide strollers. I particularly like the one my sister's family has, which puts one kid under and behind the other kid: it's the same width as a normal stroller and only very slightly longer, so it takes up a lot less space than a double-wide stroller, but it still holds two kids, and my two nephews love riding in it.

Bringing a double-wide stroller onto Metro -- or into any crowded area -- is unnecessary and inconsiderate.

by Rob on Jun 27, 2012 3:49 pm • linkreport

Thanks for this article! Automatic kneeling would make a huge difference. Older drivers often did it for me when I had an infant/toddler in tow. It seemed like the younger drivers were less sensitive.

Also, riding the bus with a small child is much easier if you don't feel like you have to carry 20 lbs of gear with you at all times. Some parents treat their strollers like beasts of burden. I like to travel light with my kid, and that makes taking the bus much more feasible.

by TJ on Jun 27, 2012 3:56 pm • linkreport

Rob is on the right track there. I don't mind the in-line two-seaters. They're certainly bigger than an umbrella stroller, but they also fit in the aisle of a train. I think Bansky is probably imagining the same stroller I am when he has horrible memories of double-wides. I've seen more than a few tourists with triangle-shaped double-wide strollers that are clearly built to hold anyone younger than a teenager. Here's an example: That thing is over 4' wide, 3' long, and has no place on any type of public transit. Yet, I've seen it more than once.

by Ms. D on Jun 27, 2012 4:09 pm • linkreport

We have a desire to keep our kid in a soft structured baby carrier until he's 16. We carry him (at 28 pounds) and a small bag on bus and metro every day. Carrying our kid along with everyone else means we minimize the amount of gear we bring. Also, having a kid on your back or front means he's more comfortable close to you.

Granted, this works mainly for agreeable kids with physically able parents, but it is a solution that we hope to use as long as is possible.

by Kate on Jun 27, 2012 4:19 pm • linkreport

I liken the physical size and occasional attitude of double-wide stroller users to that of those who drive huge SUVs. They are inconsiderate and don't really think through their purchase until afterwards (if that).

I live in a part of the region with narrow streets and I often see several neighbors inching their huge SUV down the street - didn't they consider the width of the street BEFORE buying their tank?

Similarly with the double-wides - they take up the entire width of the sidewalk and go plowing down assuming I'm going to move off the sidewalk and outta their way.

This isn't always true but I see these things MUCH more often than I'd like to...

by Compact on Jun 27, 2012 4:32 pm • linkreport

Interesting perspective as someone who does not have kids. One question: I'm surprised you didn't mention anything on the difference with the newer low floor buses vs. the older high floor buses (with the steps). Would kneeling still be helpful with the low floor buses?

by Transport. on Jun 27, 2012 4:33 pm • linkreport

Thanks for this piece.

I have a now 5 year old boy and he has always loved taking the bus.

And even when he was little we managed just fine without a stroller - I'd stuff a bjorn into his bag in case I got tired of holding him but almost never used it.

One of the tired refrains in Upper NW from anti TOD/transit/change activists is that it is impossible to go car less or car light with kids and it is miserable if you try. Which is absurd.

But one frequent ranter on the subject in my hood I think has it completely wrong - she frequently cites the quality time she spent with her kids in the car growing up and my own experience is just the opposite - I've found the time on transit to be a sort of found time with my son that we never would have had in the car when I am concentrating on driving. A time when he still hops in my lap to get a better view out the window and we can just hang out and admire and talk about the world around us.

Another joy about the bus compared to Metrorail, particularly when he was young, was all of the warm attention he would get from fellow riders, particularly non white riders. For reasons I have trouble fathoming on Metrorail little ones are often viewed suspiciously at best and with hostility at worst while on the bus folks are generally quite friendly.

And FWIW we have a 2nd little one now and I've taken them both on the bus with no problems.

by TomQ on Jun 27, 2012 4:47 pm • linkreport

This is slightly off topic, but to the point that kids get really excited to ride public transit. I have a cousin who loved trains growing up - loved them. Of course, since his family lived deep in the suburbs they drove everywhere in a minivan; but occasionally they'd drive to a park-and-ride and take him for rides on the light rail. It was like an amusement park attraction for him.

by Rob P on Jun 27, 2012 5:06 pm • linkreport

I also agree with kneeling the bus, particularly if the bus can't get all the way to the curb. That's a big step down, and even as an able-bodied person, it's uncomfortable. I had to step out of the back door of a bus down onto the street (not pulled up to the curb, not kneeled) with my dog in tow this weekend (I had him in a shoulder bag-style carrier), and it was a precarious scene. I ended up stepping off sideways so that I could avoid banging the carrier off the door, securely hold the rail, and take advantage of the biggest step I could muster (I'm 5'5, so not tall, but certainly no pipsqueak). A child would not have been able to make that step, nor would anyone with any mobility problems...heck, someone much shorter than me and otherwise able-bodied would have had significant trouble making the step.

I sympathize with your desire to keep a small umbrella stroller open under certain circumstances (uncrowded bus, available space in the wheelchair area, and a sleepy kid), but the blanket rule prevents what would likely be rampant abuse. Have you considered asking the driver, if you board and see enough space to do so, if he/she minds? My experience with bus drivers is that they seem to be the most personable of Metro staff, overall, so it's worth a shot. Of course, it's on you to keep the stroller out of the way, take the kid out of it and collapse it if a disabled person needs that space, and otherwise be polite about it.

Lots of kids are enamored by transit. My friend's stepson was 11 when she first brought him here, and, while he also loves history and civics and was excited to see all the monuments and museums, from the moment they arrived all he could talk about was how we were going to ride the train the next day (they arrived in the evening by car). I honestly think he was upset by how close I live to downtown, because his first subway ride was so short. Hilariously enough, my dog also likes taking the bus/train. He FREAKS OUT with excitement when I pull the carrier out (he'll usually grab the shoulder strap and yank me towards the door), and sits alert and stares out the bus window (I try to get a seat in the "upper deck" so he can see out the window from inside his carrier, of course he goes under the seat if the bus is crowded, but I usually only take him on "adventures" at low-volume times). He likes car rides, too, but seems far more excited when the carrier comes out than when I open a friend's car door and tell him to get in.

by Ms. D on Jun 27, 2012 6:52 pm • linkreport

Good post author. Great comment Tom Q.

However, as a father of a 10 month old, I have a couple of thoughts: For shorter trips I usually am getting on a bus, and then will hold my son or use a bjorn. He loves the big windows and I enjoy the freedom of not having a stroller.

However, the systems are poor on commuter rail/subways. Two days ago I took Caltrain from Palo Alto, transferred to BART at Millbrae and went to El Cerrito. Caltrain deserves credit for the two bike cars, but we were told the stroller should go in the luggage car, which has a minuscule space for luggage, especially vs. the large bike cars. Why is this? It goes without saying it is much, much safer to ride public transit than private cars, so why is it so tough? This is often a matter of life and death. BART does have the bike spaces on trains but these are also small.

Signage/elevators are often poorly placed or not clear as well. And I am someone who is a huge fan/rider of transit so I can't imagine how confusing it is for other folks.

by H Street Landlord on Jun 27, 2012 7:00 pm • linkreport

Off topic, but can streetcars kneel?

by Barry on Jun 27, 2012 7:04 pm • linkreport

I'm sure you're being snarky, "Barry," but streetcars don't need to kneel. Go to H street and look at the stations that have been installed. They're elevated (ramp up to them) such that boarding will be level, much like getting on a Metro train.

by Ms. D on Jun 27, 2012 7:07 pm • linkreport

@Transport - Kneeling is still helpful with the newer, low-floor buses because the bus doesn't always pull up close to the curb. That means stepping off the curb, onto the street, and back up onto the bus, and that means a big step up for the little person holding your hand. The step also seems plenty large for a big person who is carrying a little person and a small umbrella stroller.

by TJ on Jun 27, 2012 8:59 pm • linkreport

@Banksy, Rob, Keren, Ms. D, Compact: I do want to offer a limited defense of double-wide strollers like the one Ms. D linked to. Here's what I've learned from my experience: the singleton version of this stroller is very comfortable to push and (I assume) to ride in. All of our other strollers cause pain in my hands and wrists if I push them for too long. Our jogging stroller, with its inflatable tires, is much more comfortable for long walks. A family may have similar--or other, equally valid--reasons for buying a stroller like this, just as some people do genuinely need to drive SUVs. Double strollers are expensive. If an "SUV" stroller like the double-wide BOB satisfies 95% of a family's day-to-day needs, I don't think it's fair to expect them to drop several hundred dollars on a second double stroller for occasional usage.

I'll also add anecdotally that most of the families I know who have double strollers have the front-to-back models, especially families that frequently need to ride transit. On the very rare occasions when I see someone bringing a ridiculously large stroller onto the Metro, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they would choose another option if they had it.

by Megan on Jun 27, 2012 11:28 pm • linkreport

@TomQ: yes, I have found bus passengers in general to be much more welcoming to my son than Metro passengers. Even after we were able to stop traveling with our cumbersome car seat/snap-in frame contraption, we often receive help from fellow passengers. I didn't include it in the article because it's just my personal observation and I don't have a lot of other data points to back it up, but it's another unexpected pleasure of taking the bus with kids.

by Megan on Jun 27, 2012 11:37 pm • linkreport

Why must we continue to pander to the likes of Karen and pretend it is okay that not only are parents taking monstrous strollers to places they don't belong, but that they are the only person who is inconvenienced? No 16 year-old belongs in a stroller... :P

by selxic on Jun 27, 2012 11:45 pm • linkreport

@Ms. D: Honestly, I've never had the courage to ask a driver if I could just wheel the stroller into the bus. I see your point about the need to prevent abuse if the rules were relaxed; however, on the other hand, keeping the current policy as-is forces parents into asking for exceptions, rather than making them welcome as a rule.

I don't have any brilliant suggestions for how to implement this suggestion, but still I would like to see WMATA make some effort to institute a no-collapse policy (even if it is just for umbrella strollers).

In support of your argument, Ms. D, while my son and I were taking that nightmare bus trip to the hospital, a mother and child boarded the bus with an unfolded stroller. The stroller that they used was incredibly small--it might even have been a doll stroller! I watched for any objections from the driver and other passengers, and no one gave them any trouble for not folding the stroller. As I said, it may be that drivers will make an exception if you ask them to. But I'd still prefer to see it become a rule that umbrella strollers don't need to be folded.

by Megan on Jun 27, 2012 11:55 pm • linkreport

[Deleted for violating the comment policy.] While those HUMONGOUS strollers might be incredibly comfortable and convenient, they are not appropriate for use on public transit. The first time I saw one being used on public transit is the ONLY time I have not been able to get out of my train at my destination/transfer station (because the user blocked up the whole exit/entry area on one of the newer train cars). From that point, when I saw one, I ran the other direction to any car other than the one that stupid parent was getting on. Those strollers are capable of carrying *2* 5-year-old children in the *95th* growth percentile. NOT NECESSARY. At 4 feet wide and 3 feet long, and me being 5'5. that's equivalent to me boarding and riding the train with one arm fully extended and the other bent in at the elbow, while extending one leg as far as I can in front of me, and yelling if anyone got in my "space." THAT IS NOT APPROPRIATE. [Deleted.]

Any stroller still needs to be folded on the bus when it can't be cleared of the aisle due to crowding. Hence why exceptions should be made on a case-by-case basis. [Deleted.]

by Ms. D on Jun 28, 2012 1:37 am • linkreport

I recently had an injury and did more bus riding than usual. I'm normally a biker. I had to ask the driver to knee the bus and they always did. When it was just before my stop, I'd ask the driver to please pull completely over to the curb. They always did. BTW The Metro bus supervisors tell you that the bus will always either knee or be at curb. The reality of life is that they don't follow the rule.

by tour guide on Jun 28, 2012 7:55 am • linkreport

We used to fold up the stroller and carry on our kid and stroller. I know it can be a pain, but it's considerate to others and think about the moms who carry their children on their back to get drinking water miles away! I'm only being partly snarky. Sometimes I think we ask for way too much in our society.

by Thayer-D on Jun 28, 2012 7:58 am • linkreport

@Ms. D: I'm so sorry that happened to you! I would be furious if I'd been prevented from making a transfer by someone else's carelessness.

To clarify my position, I agree that double-wide strollers are a terrible, terrible choice for transit. I don't know anyone who owns one, and my circle of acquaintance includes several parents of twins and young children who are close in age. They all use the in-line type of stroller. I could also count the number of times I've actually seen one on the Metro on a single hand, so you may have more extensive experience of this situation than I do.

As I said, if I see someone using a double-wide on the Metro, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt by assuming that they didn't have any better options (or that they didn't know any better, which may frequently be the case with tourists).

It looks like we'll need to agree to disagree on the question of requiring umbrella strollers on Metrobus to be folded at all times. One option could be to allow unfolded strollers, but clearly state that drivers can require passengers to fold them if the bus gets too crowded.

In the interest of not threadjacking, I'm making this my last comment on this particular subtopic. I've very much appreciated your and other commentators' thoughts on these issues. There may be no easy solution.

by Megan on Jun 28, 2012 8:06 am • linkreport

I'm sure kneeling is nice for parents and kids. But automatic? I don't know. It adds a bit of time to loading and unloading.

Educating drivers more seems like a better first step.

by charlie on Jun 28, 2012 8:12 am • linkreport

One of my objections to the enormous strollers on Metrorail is that the child - or children - never seem to be riding in them. I usually see the stroller empty or being used to carry stuff while the child is being carried - leaving a parent to push and guide the stroller with one hand - or the child is walking alongside the stroller, hanging on to the edge - which makes the stroller's space requirement even wider and the pace slower.

As to strollers on the bus - I've seen people refuse to fold the stroller and park it towards the front, blocking access to the rest of the bus. But I've seen people with luggage, big boxes, and shopping carts do the same.

by Todd on Jun 28, 2012 9:05 am • linkreport

a stroller IS a wheelchair. and wheelchairs ARE allowed on metro buses. there are no distinctions you can draw between the two which would lead to a less supportive conclusion. strollers are also used by people who can't walk, except they take up less space than other wheeled chairs, and they fold up smaller. and there is always someone to help them. Those aspects would seem to be a bonus.

Kids ride the bus for free - this reminds me of the way airplanes let little kids ride for free if they sit in your lap.

Banned wheeled chair: usually smaller, possibly larger, small when folded, can't push self. occupant rides free due to young age. has assistant.

Acceptable wheeled chair: large. does not fold. might not have assistant. usually can push self. might be able to drive fast under power.

Regarding double-wide strollers. Point out that double-width (x-wide) wheel chairs are becoming common. A lot of times weigth is a contributing factor to needing the wheelchair. There are two-person electric wheelchairs I have seen (more common in florida) which are no wider than a common x-wide wheelchair. I take it these types of wheelchairs are not explicitly banned? Even though x-wide wheelchairs don't necessarily fold up.

It seems like we are just discriminating against toddlers here. And it seems to me it's the chairs that are bolted down which are taking up all the space. Eliminate bolted-down chairs and tell everyone to bring a folding chair if they must have a chair (most won't). You'd have way more space.

by Lee on Jun 28, 2012 9:30 am • linkreport

I am a supervisor on a mass transit system in another city...and strollers are the number one issue facing operations people today. An open stroller is a hazard to everyone else on the bus. In an accident it will block the asle and act like a dam..or worse, it will be thrown forward because its not tied down like a wheelchair would be. I suggest GGW go to youtube and post the video from the Oklahoma City bus crash from April. The bus hits a building...with baby in the stroller thrown nearly the entire length of the bus, ending up at the front door, blocking the exit of the injured. In lower income areas, the fancy stroller has become the status symbol for single mothers. Ive actually heard them talking about the strollers in the same fashion some would talk about their new car or latest electronics purchase. Its all about who can get the most elaborate and fancy stroller now...without considering what they are asking of their transit system when getting on board. By fed law, the wheelchair area has be surrendered when a wheelchair boards...and we have arguments with stroller moms who refuse to move their cadillac stroller for a wheelchair. So now, strollers HAVE To be folded before boarding...and dont even think of using one as a grocery cart when returning from walmart!

by Steve on Jun 28, 2012 9:38 am • linkreport

That's not a lower income thing, Steve.

by selxic on Jun 28, 2012 9:53 am • linkreport

"there are no distinctions you can draw between the two which would lead to a less supportive conclusion"

we expect parents to carry their toddlers, we do not expect the disabled to be carried. The disable are entitled under ADA to live as independently as possible, while toddlers are never independent.

I have refrained so far, as when our child was a toddler we usually transported her by car - when we did use transit, we used a foldable umbrella stroller, and carried her and folded the stroller. Obviously not everyone is in a position to not use transit when folding and carrying is not feasible, but I also don't think its feasible or desirable to treat strollers like wheel chairs.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 28, 2012 10:23 am • linkreport

the reality that people are battling over a place to put their wheeled chairs for people that can't walk - "strollers" and "wheel-chairs", seems to reinforce the idea that we need more space where you can put rolling/folding chairs, or conversely less space where there are bolted-down chairs. If you took out say 1/3 to all the bolted-down seats, the bus would have greater capacity and you wouldn't need to limit folding/rolling chairs. Problem solved. If you want to prevent flying hazards, how about installing harness points, and promote the use of a harness on all loose objects? Or how about start by harnessing down the PEOPLE? The reality is bus injuries are exceedingly rare, so flying hazards are kind of a low priority, thus not really a reason to ban strollers. otherwise buses would have seatbelts.

Steve seems to be suggesting that strollers have to be folded because trasit agencies down't want to take out the bolted down seats, even though they seemingly need to do so. Lets add to this that the bolted-down seats now are frequently way too small for the passengers anyway, so a lot of people are taking up 1 1/2 seats, which wastes even more space than before.

All of these problems are solved not by restricting rolling chairs, but by restricting the number of bolted down chairs. Put simply, if people can stand and walk, they should stand and walk. The people need a rolling or folding chair, let those people bring them. Most people won't. If flying objects are a problem, offer harnesses and harness points.

by Lee on Jun 28, 2012 10:27 am • linkreport

previous to ADA act, transit agencies said it was not feasible or desirable to allow wheelchairs either. And the disabled did used to get carried onto the buses and trollies by relaties, just like babies and toddlers. And little kids do struggle for independence. kids WANT to do everything themselves, even if they haven't figured it out yet.

kids aren't entitled to their wheeled chairs because ADA legislation does not force transit agencies to recognize kids. The legislation does not support the logical conclusion. Change the legislation then. There is no legislation forcing transit agencies to offer so many under-sized bolted-down chairs for healthy and independent, (but frequently overweight) riders. Undersized bolted chairs for healthy adults makes no sense when there is no space for strollers for kids that can't walk. Our priorities are not straight. Anyway chairs are really bad for your health. You should avoid using chairs unless you are unable to stand.

by Lee on Jun 28, 2012 10:45 am • linkreport

"And the disabled did used to get carried onto the buses and trollies by relaties, just like babies and toddlers. And little kids do struggle for independence. kids WANT to do everything themselves, even if they haven't figured it out yet. "

Toddlers try to become independent by walking. They do not move their strollers themselves, as disabled people move their wheel chairs. They do not get on buses themselves, as disabled people do.

"Undersized bolted chairs for healthy adults makes no sense "

The chairs on transit are not undersized for non obese passengers, and standing for the length of some commutes is problematic. Many transit commuters already get plenty of exercise as part of their commutes, since most walk the first and/or last segment.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Jun 28, 2012 10:51 am • linkreport

The Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), which FTA funds, just published a synthesis report on "Strollers, Carts, and Other Large Items on Buses and Trains", which documents the state of the practice and lessons learned from a variety of different transit agencies and how they manage stroller (and other large item) policy. You all might find it worth reading.

Strollers, Carts, and Other Large Items on Buses and Trains

by CD on Jun 28, 2012 11:48 am • linkreport

@CD: This is a wonderful resource. Thanks so much for sharing!

by Megan on Jun 28, 2012 12:24 pm • linkreport

Maybe the distinction when unfolded strollers are allowed would help. I understand on the weekend taking your huge stroller onto the bus or train, but it's quite annoying when parents take up huge amounts of room during rush hour. On the other hand, I realize this would complicate the issue since people would have to plan out when and when they couldn't do so rather than having a fixed rule.

by Alan on Jun 28, 2012 1:22 pm • linkreport

Also, riding the bus with a small child is much easier if you don't feel like you have to carry 20 lbs of gear with you at all times. Some parents treat their strollers like beasts of burden.

One of my objections to the enormous strollers on Metrorail is that the child - or children - never seem to be riding in them. I usually see the stroller empty or being used to carry stuff

Exactly! When I was the parent of a small child (many moons ago), it was never the norm to carry everything the child *might* need with you everywhere you went. It irritates me to no end to see these empty strollers piled high with junk rather than filled with a child.

And don't get me started on the ones who look like they are pushing a ten year old around. I mean seriously, we won't let our kids walk and then wonder why they are so fat?

by Exhausted Vivene on Jun 28, 2012 3:03 pm • linkreport

I happened to be on a late morning blue line train south from Rosslyn this morning and saw two adults with two children. The children were sitting in seats beside the adults, and they had two umbrella strollers uncollapsed, taking up the entire aisle. The strollers were being used to store bags.

One fell over and blocked even more of the aisle. They were of course unconcerned that others couldn't get around.

And this is why we can't have nice things, like a rule that allows strollers to be unfolded at certain times for the benefit of considerate parents.

by Gray on Jun 28, 2012 4:04 pm • linkreport

Thanks CD for the link, I had not seen that report. One issue we have is people who use the stroller as intended on the outbound trip...for a child..but when they return from wallyworld, the stroller is now full of groceries and they are holding the child. When we tell them that the stroller is not permitted on board in this fashion, they get upset. "You let me take it to the store, why cant I take it back home?" Well because we are in the people transport business, not freight! We've also had people try to bring new big screen TVs on board that theyve just bought and get upset when we refuse them. We have a high % of unemployed/welfare and or young couples with no car in our area. Seems to me that if you are on welfare, maybe buying that 60 inch plazma tv isnt the best use of your welfare dollars!! I know I shouldnt make assumptions about people like this but we see it every day.

by Steve on Jun 29, 2012 8:33 am • linkreport

@Steve - it sounds like you have genuine disdain for the people your transit system serves.

Have you ever gone to the grocery store with a child, exclusively on public transportation? It sounds like you have not. I realize there are competing interests to balance, but we have to make easier for folks to use public transportation to complete essential errands.

Also, how do you know who is on welfare or isn't?

by H Street Landlord on Jun 29, 2012 11:36 am • linkreport

I never used mass transit until returning to the us after helping to expand a home business in another country. Upon my return, I had to forgo a car for a few months. I have a 2 year old. I found metro to be effortless but the bus is not welcoming for mothers with young children. What exactly do I do with my 2 year old as I fold his stroller? Babies are supposed to be put on the ground or held while folding a stroller? Young toddlers are in danger, they could just run away. Also, cheap small strollers aren't good for grocery shopping or long trips. Exactly how do you grocery shop with a young child or two if u can't use ur strolle rot help carry things? I think strollers should be allowed on buses unfolded. I never had a problem in other countries doing this. Thankfully I can afford taxis bc mass transit doesn't seem concerned with low-income families without cars. I wonder if people judge mewhenthey see I have a stroller that costs 1,300 and take the bus. Actually, I would like to take the metro and bus to reduce my carbon footprint. I also like being able to play with my son while in transit. Anyway, i feel for young others who need to do all the shopping w their children while riding the bus. :(. Bc I know wheni tryit, my son is in danger everything I board the bus bc I'm tryingto fold a stroller and have to leave him unattended while folding the stroller.

by Lady on Jan 10, 2013 7:25 pm • linkreport

For those that understand the situation with having to take strollers on buses, thank you. Parents that take large strollers on buses aren't doing it to be irritating. The bigger strollers are the only ones that can contain two small children (most toddlers still need to be in a stroller for longer trips and safety), have a basket for storage, and have wheels that can withstand various terrain and things like snow and gravel. Umbrella strollers are nice, but once you add in the necessities for going out with a toddler and an infant even the double umbrella strollers get fairly large. In terms of the in-lined strollers those can be nice, but don't often have much in the way of storage room and are costly. Also, getting a stroller folded with a toddler and an infant is dangerous in itself.

by Monica on Oct 2, 2014 12:28 pm • linkreport

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