Sightline on strollers (or, “What she said”)

Sightline writing fellow Alyse Nelson recently blogged about the hassles associated with taking strollers on KC Metro buses. A taste:

But King County Metro was the sore spot of my car-free life. Agency rules required me to fold Orion’s stroller. Holding all of the stroller’s contents and Orion, I then had to find a seat before the bus lurched forward. The challenge didn’t end once on board. I had to squish into a seat with all of our stuff and attempt to keep Orion from grabbing the stroller’s dirty wheels for the duration of the ride. Once we arrived at our stop, I had to reverse the whole ordeal.

Photo credit: vagabond_shutterbug (flikr)

As someone who would rather strap on an almost-30-pound, squirmy toddler or walk miles in bad weather than bring a stroller (plus two children) on the bus, I can relate. And don’t get me started on transfers.

Regardless of the reasons for Metro’s policy, which are not entirely clear (and, as far as I can tell, not explicity stated on the agency’s website or any of its printed materials), there isn’t much doubt that it makes busing extremely inconvenient and stressful (if not downright impossible) for parents, many of whom do not have other transportation options. And the thing is, (as Nelson discusses in her post) there are alternatives.

Back in ’06, Oakland-based Transform was instrumental in changing the stroller policy on Tri Delta Transit (in Contra Costa County).

ANTIOCH, CA, March 31, 2006 – The Eastern Contra Costa Transit Authority (Tri Delta Transit) recently became the first transit agency in America to create a designated stroller area on buses. In March, 2006, Tri Delta Transit took the precedent-setting, proactive step of removing one set of seats on each of its 40-foot fixed route buses, designating the remaining space for passengers with strollers. To date, 90% of Tri Delta Transit’s available fleet has been retrofitted with the new stroller area and the remaining 10% should be completed by mid-April, 2006.

You can read the rest of the press release (which includes the details of the policy) here.

Call me cynical, but I don’t see Metro’s stroller policy changing anytime soon. (The way things are looking, I’ll be happy if the routes I ride regularly are still around in a year.) It would be nice, however, if the current policy was at least clearly posted and consistently enforced.

And would it be too much to ask for a moment to find a seat (or at least a pole to grab) before the bus takes off?

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5 Responses to Sightline on strollers (or, “What she said”)

  1. Pingback: Score one for MLKC Metro | Bus Chick

  2. jkh1948 says:

    I think it would be a great idea not only for those of us with strollers, but also for those of us with walkers. Or how about for those of us with grocery carts. I use a cart because I can’t carry those bags, so taking them out of the cart, toting them up those blinkin’ steps, folding the cart and then trying to keep my bags corralled and upright, only to reverse the process when I disembark–it all seems counter-intuitive.

  3. KYouell says:

    (Hi! Found you through Family Ride’s blog.)

    We’re in Portland, but I hear you! Back when we lived in the ‘burbs and had no bikes we were still car-free. I just had to hoof it to the train where it is ok to keep strollers unfolded on the low cars, but you still can’t block doorways or aisles. Trimet has the policy clearly stated on their website, which I put on my phone for awhile because I was afraid of being hassled for not folding my stroller. We only got hassled one time, and she was a homeless person that had other issues. We did get snide comments from a commuter once about how big the stroller was (it’s a double-wide), but when I told him that it’s the same size as a wheelchair he was amazed & shut up. Lots of people were surprised; my theory is that neon green is not a slimming color. I would park the kids in one of the 4 wheelchair spots and if someone needed ours we would discuss it and figure out a way to make it work. Like I said, we didn’t get hassled much. I don’t know how much of that is because my son has Down syndrome though. Maybe if he didn’t we would have been hassled more?

    Anyway we gave up, moved to SE Portland and got a bakfiets (Dutch box bike) so we don’t bus it much anymore. I tell you though, if they would let me keep a stroller open I would be using the bus more often! It’s nice to be in charge of our schedules, but it was also nice to just sit and not have to pedal up hills — not to mention keeping the kids strapped down has it’s benefits for mom.

    Nice blog. I’m off to poke around some more!

    • BusChick says:

      Love Family Ride. I really, really need to start riding a bike–not so much because of the stroller thing, but because the bus just doesn’t work for a lot of our in-the-neighborhood travel needs (don’t get me started), and walking long distances with two children in the rain (though I certainly do it–often) just isn’t a good use of time–or very pleasant. The main problem for me is I’m averse to figuring out how to do stuff a new way. Also, I’m not a great cyclist, and I’m terrified of riding in traffic.

      I keep meeting people (virutally and in the flesh) who cycle with kids, so I know it can be done. My resolution for 2012 is to figure it out.