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BABY BOTTLENECKS | Globe Editorial

Big strollers squeeze T riders

May 10, 2011

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IN RECENT years, baby strollers have grown to almost comical size — a trend that poses a growing headache for the MBTA. There’s simply not enough space on buses for the wheeled personnel carriers that many parents now prefer.

Indeed, baby bottlenecks have become a top complaint of riders, who sometimes have to run a gauntlet of strollers to reach their seat. The problem is especially acute for riders in wheelchairs, since strollers often end up in spaces designated for the disabled. In response, the agency is considering asking parents to fold up strollers aboard the bus.

A tighter policy would bring the T closer to many other large transit agencies, which don’t allow open strollers on buses. It is unfortunate that some parents are abusing the T’s unusually permissive policy by parking their behemoths next to the entrances or in handicapped areas. Still, before adopting new guidelines that might reduce transit options for parents and could prove difficult to enforce, the T should try a stepped-up campaign to encourage common courtesy.

In the long run, bigger strollers are probably here to stay, and it may also be time to update the layout of buses to take them into account. For example, buses in Ann Arbor have designated stroller areas. Better bus design might also recognize that more riders in wheelchairs are taking public transit. The T should study whether to reconfigure seating to accommodate them both.

Providing transportation options to parents with children and the disabled are both admirable accomplishments, but they do have the undeniable side effect of occasionally creating traffic jams and inconveniencing other passengers. Yet with common sense and common courtesy, the T should be able to ensure that “baby on board’’ won’t be a sign of frustration for other riders.