Many New Yorkers have to walk blocks with their children because they find it difficult to get on the bus with their strollers.
Zinaida Zurita, a mother of four, told us she relies on public transportation to get them to school and medical appointments, but she’s had a hard time trying to drive her open car onto MTA buses.
“Someone on the bus told me I had to roll the stroller and the baby was six months old and since she’s a special girl with Down syndrome, I had to do it and I felt bad,” Zurita said. I couldn’t understand someone who had a special girl and had to go in a stroller, but to avoid a fight and for my own safety and the safety of others, I did.”
That’s something that could soon change as the “Open Stroller” pilot program, which launched last September with 142 buses, will expand to 1,000 across the city in the coming weeks.
“Feedback from our riders and operators has been overwhelmingly positive and there have been no incidents involving open strollers on our pilot buses,” said Frank Annicaro, vice president of NYC Transit Buses.
Inside the bus, the designated space will be identified with a sign that specifies its use.
The field will be outfitted with wheelchair seating, which will remain at its current number.
Councilwoman Julie Menin said, “It’s really important that families in the city have this level of access and it’s also important that people in the disability community are able to do that.”
The councilor posted a message on social networks commenting on the measure.
“As a working mom, mom of 4, and daughter of a disabled parent, I know how difficult traveling with kids and people with disabilities can be. Preventing the need to fold the stroller is great for all travelers. Maddy and I look forward to the @MTA expanding this program,” the councilwoman wrote.
As a working mom, parent of 4 kids, and daughter of a disabled dad, I know how hard traveling with kids and people with disabilities can be. No longer does the stroller need to be folded, an essential accommodation for all riders. Maddie and I looking forward @ MTA Extension of this program! pic.twitter.com/vD94RqE5am
— Julie Menin (@juliemenin) January 24, 2023
According to the MTA, buses that are part of the program will have a sign with a stroller on the outside of the vehicle and will be readily visible before boarding.
At present, the MTA is studying the areas where these buses will be most needed.
“We can all feel this expansion equally in each county but we are also focused on a service for the communities where we see more cars,” explained Cumuel Arroyo, Director of Accessibility for the MTA.