Stroller wars continue on CTA

In my eight years of blogging about all things CTA, I think the most divisive issues I've encountered is strollers.

I've heard complaints from both sides:

Huge strollers clogging up the narrow aisles on both buses and trains.

And moms saying how tough it is to get around on the CTA with their strollers.

A report last week from the now closed down Chicago News Report said two No. 151 bus riders almost came to blows when a woman admonished a person with a stroller "don't touch my stuff" when he tried to move her cart around his aisle-clogging stroller.

I've seen people on trains and buses grousing about the mega-strollers. Moms, dads: invest in a folding umbrella stroller for your CTA trips. They don't take up as much room, and can be folded easily so you can put the kid on your lap.

The CTA changed its stroller policy about nine years ago to be more lenient. It used to require that all strollers be folded. Here's the current policy.

Chicago Transit Authority's "Policies and Practices" regarding children in strollers

Children in open strollers are welcome on CTA, however we encourage parents to be considerate of other customers and adhere to these rules when traveling with a stroller.

Keep strollers clear of aisles and doorways aboard buses and trains.

Seniors and customers with disabilities have priority use of the Priority Seating area aboard buses and trains. If these seats are not in use, open strollers may be parked in this area. This will help you to avoid blocking the aisle. Please yield this space if a customer with disabilities, a senior, or a person using a mobility device wishes to board. On buses, you may request use of the access ramp or lift to help you board and exit.

Please fold your stroller in the event that a bus or train becomes crowded, in order to make room for others. Be aware that in the event that a bus or train is crowded, a CTA employee may ask you to fold your stroller or wait for another vehicle. Please follow their instructions. Also, during certain periods of high ridership, we may require that all strollers be folded before you board.

Children in an open stroller should be seated and secured in the stroller before boarding the bus or train.

Note that strollers are never allowed on escalators. If traveling with an open stroller in a multi-level facility, please use elevators or ramps where available. On train station platforms, position your stroller parallel to the platform edge (not facing it), use wheel locks/brakes and stay with it at all times.

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  • The huge strollers are totally out of control!
    Last week I got on a bus & couldn't get past the driver's seat.
    There was one stroller in a wheelchair spot & another planted right between the two wheel wells of a New Flyer.
    It was impossible to go any farther back.
    Finally, she moved back, left some space & two of us, stuck up front were able to get to seats in the rear.
    Another day, a woman got on, paid cash for the fare, blocked the aisle in the same place & got off two stops later!

  • A reader emailed a comment to me last night. This is it, from Jim:

    I just read the CTA Policy on strollers, it's crap, all strollers should be folded and they should be size restrictions and drivers should enforced and if threaten with violence they should call the transit or regular police of the jurisdiction they are in at the time of the incident. Let's get real here, if one can't hold a baby on their lap for a short duration of bus trip, I just don't know what to tell you, or them.

  • Given the epidemic of twins I don't know if Jim's last sentence is going to work.

    Also, as best as I can tell from the video, I'm not so sure why the CTA is a conveyance for a cart that loaded to the gills; whoever with the yellow helmet is going to block the aisle, anyway, but I guess farther back.

    Since this was the 151 bus, it appears that CTA has become a zoo everywhere, and thus I don't see how its ridership is up if conduct has descended to this level. Maybe all the babies count as boardings and free rides. Probably stuff in the cart, too, as it breaks the plane of the passenger counter at the door.

  • Its not just strollers..its also laundry carts,walkers, motorized carts..there is NOT enough room for PEOPLE!!!

  • In reply to notaaveragejoe:

    I'll give you the laundry carts and even throw in granny carts full of groceries during rush hour, but are you really suggesting people with walkers and motorized wheelchairs shouldn't be allowed? Really?

  • In reply to notaaveragejoe:

    Your proposed walkers and motorized carts (I assume you mean mobility scooters) ban would get an ADA suit real quick.

    Even CTA knows better than that.

  • In reply to notaaveragejoe:

    Seniors and customers with disabilities have priority use of the Priority Seating area aboard buses and trains Please yield this space if a customer with disabilities, a senior, or a person using a mobility device wishes to board. Priority Seating is Federally Mandated for use for people with disabilities (if they choose to use it).
    This is a civil right for people with disabilities (of all ages), and with a mobility aid to use public transportation.
    Jim at Ability Chicago

  • In reply to AbilityChicago:

    How can we present this to CTA so that the rules are enforced? I've seen way too many seniors and disabled (permanently and temporarily) riders being denied seats because of situations like this....

  • In reply to goofyjj:

    You can send customer service an e-mail and get back an autotext saying that the supervisor will look into it.

    However, given that CTA and apparently CPD have no means of enforcing anything with respect to passengers (and if a driver says something to a passenger, is likely to be assaulted), don't expect any enforcement.

  • In reply to goofyjj:

    The Passenger with a Disability (of any age) either needs to ask the driver to announce a priority seat is needed, or the passenger can do it themselves. - but please remember there are many unseen disabilities (epilepsy, joint replacements, heart conditions, etc), so no-one passenger is more important then another. ( I use a wheelchair for mobility, but if a CTA bus is full, I wait for the next bus) But current CTA policy "Be aware that in the event that a bus or train is crowded, a CTA employee 'may' ask you to fold your stroller or wait for another vehicle. " But also aisle should not be blocked, and this is the drivers responsibility.
    Its a Catch 22 by the policy that CTA put in effect.

    Though for anyone who feels that the baby strollers are an issue - Please call CTA customer service or email them with information, or your concerns. CTA does keep this info and includes it with there statistics. Please voice your opinion at that the CTA Board of Directors meetings and/or the CTA ADA Advisory Committee meetings - info on CTA website.
    TY, Jim at Ability Chicago

  • believe me - I understand how difficult it is to get around without a car.

    However - ALL strollers should be folded during the rush hours. and those big, bulky, super-strollers should be banned at all times.

    I've seen (sorry - it's ALWAYS) women take up 6 - 8 seats on a bus with those monster strollers. And I've had difficulty getting on and off the train while they block the doors.

    I don't mind too much about me, I can wait for the next bus or train. Or I can move to the next car. But my mom walks with a cane and damn if these rude women won't let my mother have a seat.

  • In reply to goofyjj:

    I saw a man with one this morning, so it's not always women. It is mostly women, but then it's mostly women who end up taking care of small children.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I do stand corrected. The only time I see men do this is if they are with their wife/girlfriend. But you are right - it's normally the women taking care of the small children.

  • Thank you Kevin. I was getting on a bus on St. Patrick's Day and there was a family with a wagon. I'm talking about the big plastic one that seats two kids. They actually got on the bus and then there was a family with two scooters that got on the bus. CTA needs to crack down on these people. I am a mother of two and when my children were small we took the CTA but I used an umbrella stroller or a backpack carrier. I always closed my stroller when I travelled during rush hour.

  • In reply to Tracy A. Stanciel:

    PROVING it can be done. Thank you Tracy!!! :)

  • This comment came in from a mom who is "averse to having to give out all kinds of personal information" to comment on a blog:

    I think what a lot of non-moms and non-city-dwellers are missing about the stroller issue is that it's not just a matter of folding up the stroller and putting the baby on your lap. If it were that easy, we'd do it every time. The fact is that when you are city mom who depends on public transportation the stroller is also holding your diaper bag, the bag of groceries you just picked up at jewel, an extra blanket in case the Chicago weather turns cold, a rain shield for the stroller because it is due to rain later that afternoon, some snacks and water bottles, and perhaps six loose pieces of sidewalk chalk that your 3-year-old threw in the basket on the way to the park. Imagine trying to unload all of that from the bottom of the stroller and hold onto to it while juggling a baby in your arms and toddler by your side. It's not the baby, it's everything else!

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    It's amazing how, in the past, pretty much ALL of our parents managed to accomplish the amazing feat of traveling on public transportation with their babies and didn't have to bring 500+ things with them....

    I get it. We get it. You need to bring all that stuff with you. But do you really have to do it at the height of rush hour?

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    To the moms who argue for big strollers that "hold everything": Having heard this argument many times, I have begun observing the large mess that fills these gargantuan strollers. It's piles of toys and books, more clothes and blankets than could possibly be used in one trip, several quarts of water (no baby drinks that much in one outing). Junk accumulates and these women appear never to clean out the holding area. Those huge strollers are a public menace and on a bus they are dangerous as well as massively inconvenient to other passengers. If you must transport your baby on the CTA, please use an umbrella stroller. This news may come as a shock, but young women and their infants are not the only people in Chicago.

  • LMAO because I see the second ad on the right is for an "easy fold stroller"!

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Get Adblock Plus. I'm glad I did. But we know why Google put that ad there. Not coincidence.

    My mother didn't drive when I was young, but apparently people were more civil on the bus way back then. The main thing with which she was concerned was that I would figure out that the bus driver had the same name as our street, and hence I would bug her whether the street was named after him. Thus, I agree with goofyjj. Mother might need a diaper bag and a bottle, but otherwise get a big purse. At least mother is not going to leave that in the aisle.

    Otherwise, it appears that that mother needs to hire the black car that Blago is no longer using. Airlines would never sell an unlinked trip for $1.01 just to carry on all that baggage. But it is clear that CTA operators, who have enough to do just trying to drive the bus, aren't able to enforce standards of courtesy or collect extra fees.

    Then you have goofyjj also pointing out that those with strollers don't follow the rule that they should give the seat to the disabled or elderly.

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    I'm a former Chicago mom who now lives in Seoul. I can identify with both sides of this issue, especially now that I live in an area where public transit congestion is extremely heavy. The biggest difference to me is that here in urban Korea, parents don't go on public transit with big, bulky strollers or the travel systems. Everyone uses compact umbrella strollers, and actually bulky strollers are hardly sold here because they're just not practical in heavily populated areas. Most moms with infants and babies actually wear them in carriers until they're too heavy, and only then do the strollers come out. And yes, you see a lot of moms with bags to carry all the stuff that accumulates on a trip out with the child, alongside the groceries or whatever other items needed to be picked up. Our son is 3 and can walk up to 3 miles without complaining now, so we haven't even taken the umbrella stroller out in about 8 months and it makes life a lot easier. It turns out we and our kids are capable of a lot, even without the convenience of a big stroller with a basket and storage space!

  • In reply to globalmommy:

    Thanks Global. you are doing it right, carrying your son and using the umbrella stroller. The last thing I want to do is discourage families with young kids from using the CTA. Just do it courteously.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Exactly. I'm not against ANYONE using public transportation. I actually encourage it..... But people need to remember it's PUBLIC.

    Just this morning there were two women with monster-strollers taking up 8 seats. The man that normally gets on the bus at the same time with me needs a cane to walk and needs to lean while waiting for the bus. NEITHER woman would offer up her seat for this man.... maybe if they were carrying the kids, he could have sat down. (he ended up getting a seat from someone further down the aisle of the bus). Now that is just RUDE....

  • Hi Kevin,
    The 'baby stroller' issue is one that the CTA should re-evaluate and reinstate the previous policy. As we know the aisles on buses cannot be blocked, yet people have to climb over the baby strollers daily. Priority Seating is Federally Mandated for use by People with disabilities (of all ages) - period. They are not for baby strollers, the CTA has caused an issue where People with Disabilities are putting themselves in danger, and fellow passengers if they fall down by not being able to access priority seating if they are in need of it. This is one of the reasons Paratransit Rides have increased in the city. We have been advocating for the CTA to do the right thing, reinstate the previous policy of Baby strollers must be folded before entering CTA vehicles.
    Jim at Ability Chicago

  • Kevin,
    I get it. I understand that the total weight of the items to cart around literally outweighs the child but what most stroller riders seems to not understand is that we're all sharing a public space. Not their own personal car service. There's plenty of room to fold the strollers and place them under the seats if a handicapped rider isn't present.

    What I find gratifying is when the wheelchair folks get on and the stroller folks *HAVE* to move. Then there's no excuse. I'm always amazed at how quickly the folder can be folded when there's little room.

  • Given that umbrella strollers cost about $20, there's no excuse for not having one for bus travel. Save the gargantuan one for long walks. And most baby/diaper bags now come in backpack form so unless you have twins, you don't need to take the big buggy on the bus.

  • A mom with lots of kids can travel on a bus or train without taking up all the aisle and seats; I've done it--its called "ORGANIZATION"!! Use a small fold up stroller, carry a back-pack, put a back pack on the kids, leave all the 'stuff' at home!! That blanket can be small and the size of my hand instead of the giant fluffy one that takes up so much space.
    A lot of the women I've seen don't want to shed the extras, its 'status' to have those aisle hog-strollers, and for some reason today's parents think their kids are special (we all do), and refuse to teach their tots good manners--oh, wait, the parents don't have good manners either!
    And re-arrange your schedule so you are not riding during crowded rush-hours--esp if you are a stay-at-home or part-time working parent.

  • Amazing. I remember clearly my mom with three kids, and no strollers, no diaper bags, no mounds of baby crap riding the CTA. Some mothers today are somewhat selfish.

  • The problem is more that the "strollers" are getting bigger and bigger. 20 years ago, they were little things that the kid sat in like a beach chair on wheels. Now they are these huge things with a canopy and all. We had these kinds of things back in the 1950's when I was a baby, but nobody dreamed of getting on a bus with them. When Mom and I went downtown then, I would have to walk or she would have to carry me. The baby carriage was for going around the neighborhood. Secondly, because buses have changed dramatically in the last 20 years because of accessibility demands, there is less room than ever on a bus. A bus used to have 50 seats, now they have 38, with these huge "humps" over the front wheels that under the best of conditions make for a choke point. Add in a gigantic two-baby carriage coming on, and it's "squeeze, squeeze, by"

  • Here's a simple solution to the giant strollers that will encourage smaller not larger ones on the buses and trains. CHARGE one dollar per seat that they block. Sometimes they take up as many as seven seats with strollers and then parking themselves in still another seat. You better believe if they had to pay, they would be less likely to get on the bus with a stroller wider than the aisle. I have seen women refuse to move their strollers even when someone gets on the bus with a walker or crutches. Once I saw one woman scream, "I ain't movin' tell the cripple to wait for the next bus." The last time I checked a baby is a blessing not a handicap. It's time to start charging for the greed and selfishness displayed. There is no "right" to bring your stroller on board its a privilege, one that could help fill the budget holes in the CTA.

  • Good day everyone,

    I agree with the comments regarding the size of the strollers, the lack of disregard to a passenger's safety (fire hazzard), the disregard of the Disabilities Act and the common comfort a passenger should have in riding the bus. I feel the main problem that exist is the number of moms (for some I use the terminology loosely) that expect one should give them special treatment. They are the only species that belt out "I'm a single mom" in an attempt to receive empathy and handouts. I have NEVER heard a man just walk around and say "I'm a single dad. " They simply and proudly say "I'm a dad." It appalls me and I am a mother myself. I nor anyone else should feel obligated to give up 1 seat because they chose to have baby #1, #2, #3, #4 and so on and so on and are to downright lazy to hold their own child. That's is called making a grown-up decision. Let's keep it real shall we? This is a CTA bus we are speaking of, not Greyhound or a School bus. I know most of you have seen kids at least 3 years to 7 years of age, feet dangling on the ground being pushed in a stroller! It is outrageous and folks wonder why these kids are so complacent in not doing anything productive. Some of them leave their kids in the stroller crying their little hearts out while they are yelled at and/or hit to be quiet, or are simply ignored while "mommy" talks on the phone or Facebooking someone. All because they do not have the emotional campacity to hold and comfort their child. And yes, also because they are too lazy to do so. Under PACE, a driver will flat out tell a passenger to fold their stroller BEFORE they board the bus. I have seen it occur a many of times. Passengers are so used to it now that they already have the stroller folded by the time the PACE bus arrives. Talk to me....

  • I would support a ban on the larger strollers because, no, you don't *need* to bring that on the bus. But I like the idea of charging people per seat blocked by their megastroller.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I concur Cheryl regarding the blocked seat charge.

  • In reply to Le’Mia:

    With the general unwillingness of passengers to pay their own carriage, plus the guy who was arrested in Chinatown over a dispute regarding his "seniors ride free" card not scanning, I see that enforcing that will also be "fun," not that such passengers shouldn't pay that freight, as I suggested 23 hours 21 minutes ago.*

    ___
    *If this system won't post an absolute time, do da math.

  • In reply to jack:

    I see your point and I did not take the liberty nor had the time to view all comments, however I thank-you for re-sharing your view to me.

  • In reply to Le’Mia:

    Le'Mia: Thank you for showing fellow commenters how to be so polite. If only everyone on the CTA were so polite, we would never have problems such as stroller wars.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Thank-you so much Kevin! Very kind of you of you to say and acknowledge.

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    If someone is unable to walk and uses a device with wheels, it is acceptable to the general public...unless that person is under the age of 5.

    I agree that in a perfect world, parents using public transit would use smaller strollers but did you ever consider that it is precisely because they are walkers/pubic transit users that they need a sturdy stroller? It has to stand up to Chicago winters!

    The CTA and others should be focussing their energy on the companies that make strollers.

  • In reply to Susan Clemens:

    Consider, Susan Clemens, that if you MUST take your baby out in "Chicago winters" you have other options than to inconvenience others. 1) An umbrella stroller will work fine on a plowed sidewalk. 2) Carry the baby. 3) Have TWO strollers, a huge one for better weather (you probably aren't taking Baby to the park in blizzards anyway) and an umbrella stroller specifically for CTA use.

  • As a former nanny who worked in Chicago, I can see both sides to this. I agree that you should be considerate of others and not let your giant stroller take over the bus or train car. There are plenty of baby carriers for when they are infants and the umbrella stroller is a wonderful invention for once they can sit up on their own. Thankfully the family I worked for had a car that I could use, but there were times that using a car just wasn't practical in the city. That said, I rarely ever used a huge stroller on the bus or train and avoided rush hour. I don't think I ever used the CTA with all 4 kids, but I did when there were still just 3. The littlest one of the 3 was a very busy and curious little boy who got into everything. Trust me, you wanted him strapped in his stroller. Otherwise he might have been terrorizing you! I can't imagine if I'd had to take him out of the stroller on the bus or train. It would have been a disaster! His sisters were busy but thankfully were too scared of strangers to go far from me,when we were out (especially at that age) so I could have and probably would have folded the stroller if I had to. I still remember the one time the batter was dead on the car and I had to get the older two to school. That was the only time I ever road the trains at rush hour with a stroller, but even then it was just a little umbrella stroller and I had it pulled into my seat as much as possible. Sadly the subway stop by their school didn't have an elevator so I had to pull the kid out of the stroller and carry it and him up the stairs while making sure his sisters were still with me. Just that little bit of time being out of the stroller, he fought going back in it and threw a fit about it. It's not just parents on the CTA with children, sometimes it's nannies and babysitters who are just using what the parents give them. The only reason I had that umbrella stroller is because the nanny before me made them buy it. Otherwise I would have had a huge jogging stroller or a huge double stroller.

  • I hate the strollers, but what else are these people to do, especially if they don't have a car? But what really brothers me are the jerks with backpacks who have other options but feel perfectly comfortable with constantly whacking people on the back or front if the head or other body parts on a regular basis.

  • I'm so glad I don't have to ride the CTA anymore. The stroller situation doesn't get any worse than the south side. The cottage grove and king drive bus are the worst. Every other stop is a baby mama with a stroller. They actually have the nerve to fold back the seats for the handicap and expect you to move. They refuse to fold their cart when the bus is busy and everyone must go around them, and the bus driver is an enabler by not saying anything about it. So yes something must be done about this.

  • In reply to carmelcutie:

    They can expect all they want, does not mean Iam going to move, especialy if the bus is filled, not gonna happen, I was on a bus and a lady motioned with her hand for me to move. I gave such a look and she stalked off. Did not say a word, but she got the message.

  • In reply to trolleycoach:

    Trolley: are you saying you had a stroller blocking an aisle or seat when someone asked you to move?

  • In reply to trolleycoach:

    Trolley, the handicapped space on a bus is required by law---Google "Americans with Disabilities Act". its purpose is to allow handicapped passengers to use public transportation. Your threatening looks and words as you refuse to yield a disabled space to a disabled person can cause a CTA driver to call a policeman who will remove you from the bus no matter how mean you act. Being mean isn't enough. You have to obey the law.

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    Provide separate but equal services, a bus designed for strollers is implemented with a much higher fare. Great service, you get your stop instead of having to board on an already cramped bus. Did I mention you pay a higher fare? Sorry, we have an awesome transport service, that never took into account that strollers might one day make the stops too. And I guess I am mentioning discrimination. No, it's not the kind that kicks you on your ass for being a something. It's a system that says, sorry, you can not board this bus. I have pressed a button or my camera has recognized you as a stroller transpo, or you have pressed a button - whatever, a service is on it's way. And hey, since you're charging a higher fare, it will be here and fast. Heh (yeah right) Of course if the stroller is folded, and child is strapped to a parent's body - i kinda like those baby holders i see folks wearing.. then you can board the regular bus. Either way, you have to instill in people that they need to be responsible and fold, be efficient. We have to teach people, we don't have to be a**h***s about it, but do it in a way people understand. $$ talks.

    Pipe dreams in a world that does not exist. Nice to dream though.

  • In reply to Joseph Palmer:

    Thanks for you last sentence. As I indicated above, the stroller passengers (or any other passenger) is not going to be willing to pay for another 1700 buses at $600K-1M each, another 400 or 500 drivers, etc. My black car suggestion was more feasible, but obviously those passengers, unlike our former governor, haven't found someone to pay for that, either.

  • I've been taking CTA since I moved to the city in '83. "Back in the day" commuters would always take an "inside" seat allowing other commuters to sit down. Also, common manners dictate that you don't put your wet snow and ice covered shoes on the seat in front of you whereas, people need to sit. Not anymore! And the bus drivers that take up 1/2 of the back of the bus, always sitting in aisles seats. Or, the bus drivers that honk and wave and talk to every other bus driver at intersections or the bus drivers that talk with other bus drivers at the door when you try to board. The strollers are totally out of control, besides common manners.

  • And what would people do if there were N O CTA bus drivers?

    I don't see how they can take it - I WOULDN'T be a CTA bus driver FOR ALL THE MONEY IN THE UNIVERSE.

    You'all would just have to W A L K.

  • I once saw a woman with a stroller require four seated seniors to move, yielding the "handicapped" space to her. Two of these elders were on walkers. When I spoke to the woman she said "And what am I supposed to do?" and the driver refused to intervene. The stroller women are a rude, aggressive, and entitled lot. My elderly disabled husband was on a scooter and not once did I ever hold a door open for him that a stroller woman didn't push ahead of us through the open door as if assuming that I was holding it for her.

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