Parents of young children say a proposed new policy for strollers on OC Transpo buses will make them feel unwelcome to use public transit.

The new policy would restrict the size and number of open strollers allowed on buses at any one time. If it is approved by the transit committee on Wednesday, only one open stroller would be allowed on a bus at a time, and it must be placed in a wheelchair position. If a person in a wheelchair requires that space, the stroller would have to be folded and stowed, while the child would ride seated on the parent’s lap.

Bay Ward Coun. Alex Cullen, chair of the transit committee said the policy comes from consultations with the accessibility and seniors’ advisory committees and around 20 other cities.

“It’s trying to deal with a difficult problem. We get a lot of complaints from passengers about strollers blocking the way,” he said. “We do want parents with young kids getting on the bus, but we have to do something about the strollers.”

However, Amanda Potts, the mother of a 17-month-old son who only bought a car three months ago, said the new policy will discourage new parents from taking the bus.

“As a mother of a newborn, it was so nerve-racking to take my baby out to begin with,” said Potts. “If I had known that I was unwelcome on the bus, I absolutely would not have been able to use the bus in that way.”

In her experience, Potts said people on the bus usually work it out amongst themselves. She said there have been many occasions when a senior in priority seating played with her baby while Potts stood nearby.

She wonders if bus drivers will wait until the strollers are stowed before driving. This could present safety issues for a lone parent holding a baby while attempting to stow the stroller with one arm.

Robyn Griffiths, a mother of a 19-month-old boy, said the issue comes down to mobility rights.
“My son needs to get on a bus. He cannot do that without aid, which requires a stroller,” she said. “What happens when the child is flung from a mother’s arms if there is an accident?”