NEW YORK — The MTA is expanding its pilot program to allow open strollers on New York City buses, but some riders with disabilities are wary.
Yasmin Campbell is visually impaired. She uses a cane to navigate the city, as well as the MTA bus she often picks up in her Bronx neighborhood.
“I want everybody to be safe on the bus, but just to be aware that, you know, there are different kinds of people riding the bus,” she said.
As vice president of the American Council of the Blind of New York, Campbell has concerns about the MTA soon allowing more baby strollers to stay open on buses.
“I don’t wanna trip on the stroller. I don’t wanna hit someone’s stroller or baby with my cane,” she said.
The longstanding rule has been for parents to fold their strollers before boarding a bus, but last year, the MTA launched a pilot program allowing parents to open their strollers in designated spots on 140 buses.
Now, the MTA is expanding this program to 1,000 buses across the five boroughs.
“The feedback from our customers and our operators have been overwhelmingly positive, and we have no reported incidents related to open strollers on our pilot buses,” said Frank Annicaro, senior vice president of buses for New York City Transit.
“For the first time, it realistically gives children and caretakers the opportunity to ride the bus safely,” parents advocate Christine Yearwood said.
Many disability advocates initially panned the change, but the MTA boasts there have been no reported incidents regarding strollers during the pilot.
“We’re actually finding that dedicated spaces for people with disabilities on the bus, as well as dedicated spaces for parents and caretakers to have open strollers on a bus, have been a benefit to both groups overall,” said Jeff Peters, with the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York.
The MTA does admit it needs to improve signage and communication as Open Strollers expands.
“So what happens if there’s three people waiting at a bus stop and there’s one stroller already open? You’re now leaving the onus on the operator … A lot of operators are not happy,” said Alexander Kemp, a bus operator with TWU Local 100.
The MTA says bus routes for Open Strollers will be announced in the coming weeks.
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