[UPDATE: Metro changed their policy about a week ago, it just hasn’t made it’s way down to all employees or their website. Read the new operator bulletin here. Thanks to STB reader Kimberly for this tip.]
As reported by PubliCola, the topic of strollers on the bus reemerged at a recent SDOT hosted public forum:
“[O]ne audience member complained that buses weren’t user friendly for moms with strollers: ‘Your boss [the woman had identified herself as working for King County Metro] buys a lot of buses. Part of the problem is on Metro.'”
I’ll be blunt. Any long outing with a small child involving buses in this city sucks. The current official policy is:
Baby buggies and strollers must be emptied and collapsed, while on the bus. If a customer requests the lift or ramp, the drivers are instructed to deploy the lift as long as the zone is accessible. An adult must ride the lift to control the stroller. Once the child and stroller have boarded, the child must be removed from the stroller and the stroller collapsed and stowed.
Metro Customer Service email – Friday March 27, 2015
The reality is that many Metro drivers take pity on us poor souls and use common sense. If it’s not in use they’ll let you park a stroller in the wheelchair area and ask you to lock the wheels. But you never know until he or she waves you on or holds you up. I call it Metro roulette.
A parent has two options. One, you risk it. There is a 50/50 shot the only disruption will be the use of the ramp or lift, and you hope no one who can’t or won’t move is sitting in the wheelchair space so you can park out of the way. Or if you don’t want to risk disrupting everyone you prep at the stop. This means unhooking your diaper bag and any other bags, removing the child, and then holding on the child while you break the stroller down and wait. So you not only have a folded up stroller and a couple bags (hopefully you didn’t pick up much of anything at City Target while downtown) you’re trying to hold on to, but a small child that is NOT tied down (and is upset at not getting to explore now that they are ‘free’). Lots of fun waiting on 3rd like that.
It sucks either way and is why I cut back on taking Isaac on any long outing that involves Metro. If we can’t get there by Link or Link + Streetcar, we don’t go by transit. Now that he can walk at a decent pace and doesn’t require 30 lbs of gear, we’ll jump on a 7 or 8 for quick trips within the valley but that is about it.
Not everyone has the benefit of living on a rail line or a spouse that drives. For their sake (and my convenience) it’d be nice if Metro had a more family friendly policy when it came to strollers.