CTA tries for a truce in "stroller wars," will asks parents to fold 'em on crowded buses

In response to rider complaints, the CTA soon will ask folks with strollers to fold them up on crowded buses so others can board.

CTA President Forrest Claypool noted at last week’s board meeting that he’s heard complaints from both riders and drivers on the issue.  “I’m very happy to be making a concerted effort to educate our operators to tell riders, politely but firmly, what the policy is,” said Claypool, according to a Sun-Times report.

Current CTA policy states:

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.

The whole “stroller wars” problem is a tough situation for the CTA. On the one hand, it wants to encourage transit use, especially at a young age. My daughter rode the CTA with my wife in an umbrella stroller or carrier from a young age. Now my daughter is a young adult without a car who relies heavily on the CTA.

On the other hand, I’ve seen parents board buses and trains with huge strollers. Some fold up three or four seats earmarked for seniors or the disabled. That’s a lot of seats to put out of service for a baby or toddler if others who need the seats are standing.

The stroller policy calls for parents and guardians to be “considerate” — and that’s where to solution begins and ends. My suggestion is to invest in a smaller umbrella stroller for those CTA trips. They are much easier to maneuver both city streets and narrow bus aisles. And they are easy to fold if a crowded bus situation warrants it.


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  • One problem is that you can't use an umbrella stroller for a small baby. Even the ones in your picture with a 5 point harness you wouldn't use until at least 4 months. Your average $20 target umbrella with a 3 point you wait until at least 6 months.

  • In reply to whateva:

    That's what carriers are for. Perfect for the newborn. That's what we used.

  • Good luck with that, CTA. Announcing but failing to enforce a "fold the stroller" for years has set a default position. Plus, most strollers that I see are serving double duty with all the necessary kid travelling supplies (plus purchases & parent stuff) that it would be really difficult for the stroller-pushing parent to empty the stroller enough to fold up - let alone get it done in less than 3 or 4 bus stops.

    Equally, though, awareness by the parent/nanny of the other passengers and the blockages caused by a stroller are important. If possible, schedule trips for less busy times and wait for a bus/train with some free space. And be aware that people (elderly, disabled, or not) already sitting in the senior/disabled seating may not be inclined to jump up and fold up the seat for you.

  • The rules already state who the priority seats are meant for, and that if the vehicle is crowded, strollers are to be folded. All we really need is enforcement of the existing rules.

  • I agree with Kevin, Use a carrier up to a 6 month old and then get an umbrella stroller.

    I don't know what happened but 10 years ago they had backpack strollers like this:


    We had one we got at Target. They were great on CTA because they convert from stroller to back by just folding in the frame.

    Oh, well. It would help to make everyone standing continue to the rear of the bus so there will be space to try to get around all the parents who won't fold their strollers.

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    This is a nice, safe, status quo blog. Full of wonderful information on how to better travel with children. Applause. But you're much more fun when you're violent.

  • In reply to Robert Tannahill:

    OK, I'll help you out.
    I think the people with those huge strollers should be executed & their children adopted out to people who won't take huge strollers on the CTA!

    But to be serious, the CTA needs to pass a rule that flat out prohibits strollers from the folded up area of the priority seats & ban them from blocking the aisles.
    Tell the drivers to enforce it & make the automated announcements tell riders to call & report drivers who don't enforce the rules!

  • They're still not making people fold strollers. I was on a packed 66 today with a woman taking up three priority seats with her mega stroller at the tail end of rush hour.

    Those things should just be banned, or at the very least treated like bikes.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    I was on a 22 just an hour ago & one took up the priority seats.
    Huge stroller for an infant in the carrier in the stroller.

  • Plenty of parents are conscience about riding buses with their children and make a point of traveling during non-peak hours. Parents also make a point of traveling on empty buses even waiting for several buses to ensure that we minimize disruption.

    If the bus configuration was made for a standing area for patrons there would be no problem. Where are parents supposed to store the stroller? And most importantly how are parents traveling alone with infants supposed to take their child out of the stroller, fold up the stroller, store the diaper bag and hold the child? Are bus drivers going to stay stopped while parents are required to do this? And how does one propose that a parent does this when an infant can’t sit upright on their own. And then how is a parent supposed to be able to get off the bus with the child, the stroller, and the diaper bag?

    Maybe drivers and passengers should remember that they were once babies too. And maybe there should start a campaign reminding people to be courteous to parents because I’ve noticed that is sorely lacking among Chicagoans. Remember public transportation is for EVERYONE!

  • In reply to ChicagoMe:

    Several years ago, the CTA tried a standing only area test on the driver's side of a few Forest Glen buses.
    It had to be ended much earlier than the test was scheduled for.
    It turned out that so many people crowded into that area, the buses weighed so much they couldn't move.

    As for your claim that "public transportation is for EVERYONE!"
    If you're going to take up four seats, then you should pay four fares!

  • In reply to ChicagoMe:

    I agree that passengers could be more courteous, but the same also holds true for parents. The ones I've seen with strollers on buses don't even seem to consider folding the stroller and having the child sit on the parent's lap. And they also seem to have a sense of entitlement to the seats reserved for the elderly, handicapped, etc. If the child is otherwise capable of walking or at the very least sitting upright in the parent's lap, the only reason the parent would keep the child in the stroller is convenience.

  • In reply to ChicagoMe:

    Some do, but not enough parents are this thoughtful.

  • I've actually seen parents get on the bus with a large stroller, and have the chutzpah to ask elderly people sitting in the fold-up priority seats to move! And then they get bent out of shape when those folks decline to do so.

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