Thursday, December 29, 2011

New RIOC Policy Allows Open Baby Strollers On The Roosevelt Island Red Bus At The Discretion Of Driver - How Is That Working Out?

Image of Unfolded Stroller On Red Bus During  Rush Hour Earlier This Month

In response to requests from the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA), the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) changed its policy recently regarding allowing open baby strollers on the Red Bus during all hours at the discretion of the bus operator. Here's the new policy from RIOC
Revised Bus Policy

Hand baggage, instrument cases, bundles and parcels may be carried onto RIOC buses by customers provided that these articles can be carried on without inconveniencing other customers and/or the driver and does not obstruct the bus aisle or doors. Persons with unfolded strollers and/or shopping carts are not permitted to board RIOC buses unless the driver, at his or her sole discretion, determines that it will not cause an inconvenience or safety hazard to other customers or the driver. Orthopedic (wheelchair type) strollers for children with disabilities are permitted on buses just as wheelchairs are and must be secured in the wheelchair area. Bus operators must check strollers carefully to ensure that children with disabilities are not denied accessible service.

Updated signage has been posted on buses stating:

"Strollers and Shopping Carts must be folded upon operator’s request".
The policy has been in place for about a month now. How has it been working out for you?

This excerpt from a comment by an Octagon mother describes the problem for parents under previous policy of not allowing unfolded strollers on the Red Bus during Rush Hour:
Manhattan Park or the Octagon are great places to live if you have children...BUT for the whole Red Bus issue.  Let me tell you how fun it is to be 4 weeks post-unintended Cesarean birth, pushing your stroller home from the F train.  A lovely, 20 minute walk in the bitter cold and pouring down rain, pushing the stroller with one hand and holding your umbrella with another, all while worrying that you are doing irrevocable damage to your uterus.  The alternative is sitting in the F train station, waiting until the rain stops (which could take hours) or waiting until rush hour ends five hours later.  (And even then, people will give you dirty looks if you try to squeeze on the bus on a post 8 pm bus.)  Sometimes a mom just wants to get home before her baby wakes up, so she can avoid sitting in the F train station nursing for a solid hour, you know? If you take your sleeping newborn out, lay her on the dirty, wet ground while you fold your stroller, you still have to somehow carry everything on to the bus, and maybe, just maybe someone will give you a seat.  There's about a 50/50 chance on that.  Since I was told to not carry anything heavier than my child for the first 8 weeks, getting around was impossible.  I could basically carry her or the diaper bag, but not both.  So a stroller was necessary.

It seems to be the longtime residents who live in the middle of the island who are the most stroller unfriendly.  I also don't understand how enormous shopping carts (which don't have brakes) can go on the bus, but small children safely strapped into their strollers can't?  I folded my teeny tiny umbrella stroller when I got on to a bus one afternoon several months ago.  My daughter was about 18 months old at the time, and just didn't understand that she needed to stay seated on the moving bus.  I was balancing the stroller between my knees while I held her on my lap.  (And apart from that, I was relatively unencumbered...only had a small tote bag with me, which is not the case most of the time we moms go out.)  Well, my daughter started throwing a fit because she couldn't get down.  I managed to keep her safely on my lap, but she kicked the stroller hard enough that it fell across the aisle and hit a poor man standing there.  I was mortified.  And I only had one child to handle.  What if I'd also had a four year old with me that wanted to stand up on the seat at the same time?  What if I were already pregnant with a second child and having some health issues and walking the 20 minutes was difficult or not advised by my doctor?...
Another reader has a different view:
I agree with you that it would be awesome to have an unfolded stroller on the bus at any time when you need it (but I still wouldn't advocate for it). The problem is, that it can become a problem. Just like the elevators... everybody's got the right to take it and you see what's happening there. Plan your day in a way that the bus and its rules fit in there. Doctor's appointment? Make one at a time where you know you can take the bus. Reschedule if the weather doesn't allow it. Just saying that for most situations there is a plan B. It may not the most convenient one but it will work out just fine.
More on Red Bus baby stroller issue from previous posts.


Ratso123 said...

There should be one policy.  Leaving it up to the discretion of the driver removes the heat from RIOC and places it on the driver.  The driver has enough to worry about without angry passengers yelling at her or him.  There is always someone who will complain no matter what the situation  is.  The driver should be protected from these complaints.  A bus could be empty and a stroller allowed to be open, and at the next stop many people could get on.  The driver has no way of knowing that his or her decision may turn out to be wrong.  Just make one policy and stick by it.

residential said...

If one of the wheelchair seats was folded up, people with strollers and shopping carts could cluster there without blocking the aisles. Also, RIOC needs to enforce the front seats for seniors and disabled rigorously, including all the young able bodied with ipod headsets who are zoned out or texting on their cellphones, ignoring people on walkers or canes, and get people who are standing to move back from the front aisles. It's called courtesy, and along with phonics and cursive writing it's no longer taught at home or in schools.

YetAnotherRIer said...

Agreed. This whole discretion thing is nonsense. Imagine a mother with one kid walking and another kid in the stroller waiting for the bus. The bus comes and the driver decides that she cannot have the stroller open. What happens next? Mother will be late because she has to walk to the train now OR the entire bus will be delayed because everybody has to wait for her to get the kid out of the stroller and fold it up AND the driver may have to take the heat from the mother and the passengers for his decision. How is this any better? Have one clear cut policy (like it used to be: no open strollers during set rush hour times and they can be open at any other time - we have to include certain times on the weekend as well because the bus seems to get rather crowded at certain times on those days as well).

RIOC decisions don't make much sense... I cannot wait and see how they will mess up the food truck permits.

CheshireKitty said...

It's tough enough for moms - we should go a little out of our way to give them, their strollers, and kids some space on the bus, as well as the elevators.  It isn't asking that much.