Much easier
Much easier

In the comments of my post last week it came out that Metro had actually adopted a new stroller policy about a week earlier, it just hadn’t made it’s way down to all employees or their website. Later that day we obtained the new operator bulletin confirming the change and outlining the policy. This weekend a spokesperson from the agency got back to us with some good background info.

Here’s the new policy:

• Once on board the coach, a child may remain seated in the stroller as long as the child is strapped in the stroller and the stroller is secured in the securement area. If the securement area is not available, the child must be removed from the stroller and held in the lap of the adult customer or in a seat alongside the adult customer. Customers with disabilities using mobility devices have priority in the securement area. (This rule does not apply to ADA Accessible strollers.)

• Folding strollers must be folded and placed under or between seats, unless the stroller is too full to do so or if the stroller is occupied and secured per above.

• Non-folding strollers:

  • Must not block the aisle or doorways.
  • Must be under the control of the owner at all times.
  • May be parked with the brake set in the priority seating area if space is available. Note that customers with disabilities and seniors have priority use of this area.

This is similar to progressive stroller policies adopted by Chicago’s CTA and L.A. Metro, and is a good common sense solution. Thank you Metro!

Below the fold, background info from Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer:

“We’re trying to balance customer convenience and safety, and we saw this as a way to help families with children travel more easily with strollers but keep them as safe as possible on moving buses. This is good news, and we hope parents with small children benefit.” – Michael List, Metro Transit Operations Manager.


We recently reviewed and updated our rules and procedures regarding baby strollers after hearing concerns and requests from parents, especially a woman who explained her difficulties managing two infants and a toddler on the bus. Parents increasingly were asking drivers to allow them to leave their child in their stroller, some citing that other transit agencies in the country allow it.

Our goal all along has been safety of the children and passengers, and concern that a quick stop can mean injuries for people or children if a stroller weren’t secured. We also try to ensure adequate and safe circulation on crowded buses. Having strollers with children in the aisle can create both a safety hazard and make getting into and off the bus harder.

To see what we could do, our operations manager Michael List met with safety staff and accessible services staff to discuss what compromise might be possible.

After discussing and reviewing options, they concluded that children can stay in strollers provided they are strapped into the stroller and the stroller in turn is strapped in the securement area using safety straps. If a person using a mobility device needs the space for priority seating, a driver can ask that the stroller to be moved.

In summary, we allow children to remain in strollers as long as they are strapped in and the stroller is secured to the bus; and priority seating is still available for customers with disabilities.

We’ve issued this as a bulletin to operators and will update it in the operator’s printed rules and procedures book later this year.

23 Replies to “Metro’s welcome update to its Stroller Policy”

  1. I appreciate the balance that Metro is trying to strike here. I wonder how often a securement area is available in practice. I’ve heard parent friends say before that public transit can be impractical for parents, especially those with small children, and I’m chewing on whether this new policy makes it more or less so (while acknowledging that having strollers clog the aisles is also undesirable).

    1. The issue for us wasn’t the availability of the securement area; the big issue was having to take the child out of the stroller. My wife would get our son to sleep strapped in the stroller, get on a nearly empty bus, and the driver would make her take him out (waking him up) to hold him in her lap.

      The rest of the bus ride was a mix of a tired and screaming child, grumpy parent(s), and a newfound resolve to buy a cargo bike and forgo the Metro experience. We got the cargo bike and resumed taking the bus once he no longer needed the stroller.

      1. Ah, having never taken a stroller onto a bus here, I didn’t realize drivers asked passengers to take children out of strollers. In that event, yes, this is a good move: better for parents and other riders alike.

  2. I think the new policy makes sense. And, although Mike makes a good point that public transit can be impractical for parents, for many it is really the only option. If the goal is to accomidate as many people as possible with public transit, this policy helps achieve that for people traveling with small children.

    I occationally take our 3 kids on the train and/or bus as an adventure them. Being able to bring a stroller on board, room permitting, will make that a much more enjoyable experience for me.

  3. Good that’s fixed.
    Now, can we move on to having a special Orca-Canine card for all us dog walkers that must pay double, even though Fido can’t sit on the seat or are to short to be a ‘strap-hanger’.

    1. One serious advantage of making children welcome and comfortable on transit is that every child who develops an early favorable impression of transit will help swing every election pro-transit until they can qualify for senior passes.
      And still not let their grand-kids give them their seats.

      For transit in general, for this reason extremely important to improve children’s and their parents’ comfort on buses. It’s possible for a very young child to enjoy a ride on a crowded train. Buses still need work.

      Not only vehicle interiors, but lane and signal priority. Hard stops only happen when bus suddenly can’t keep moving. And stop-and-go driving makes bus passengers less patient about everything.

      Also: strap hanging would be less of a problem for monkeys and leopards than for dogs. Leopards generally don’t like the taste of humans very much unless injured. Meaning, don’t hurt them or stop the bus too suddenly.

      Monkeys, on the other hand, will bite you for trying to get back anything they just stole, including your taser and your fare card reader. With no gratitude for their free ride.

      Be great to at least program those messages onto PA announcements and reader-boards.


  4. I always thought it was bit bizarre that in a car you are legally required to confine your infant into a car seat but put that exact same car seat on a stroller on a bus and you are required to remove your infant from the seat and hold them on your lap.

    I can say from personal experience that I have been on many more bus trips where the driver suddenly slams on the breaks than has ever occurred when I have been driving (very poor sample size but just saying the risk of sudden stops still exists on the bus).

    1. I witnessed this very situation last week. A woman with a toddler carried in her stroller and set it under the seat in the fold up section. The driver took off and then slammed on the brakes to board a runner. The toddler fell forward and hit his head on the stanchion. Kids hit their heads all the time on stuff but this was an impact that I’d be a little worried about.
      I think I was angrier than the Mom was. Kid would have been fine in a stroller and a runner is no reason to slam on the brakes.

      1. That’s a preventable accident, and since it involved a child, a serious one. A child hitting their head is something the driver should have noticed- and an aggravating factor if he didn’t.

        If the driver had reported the accident immediately over the radio, it’s very likely he would have been ordered to wait for medics. Think for a minute what would have happened if several hours later, somebody noticed, or claimed, that the child had suffered a brain injury.

        At the very least, especially a driver who honestly believes they weren’t to blame should be sure to file an incident report upon returning to base- for both their own protection and the agency’s.

        Especially on service with long head ways, it’s often very human for a driver to try not to leave a passenger behind. Also, if the driver doesn’t stop, there can also be a chance that the runner will fall under a back wheel. But injuring a passenger by braking hard enough to throw a passenger down could mean termination too.

        It’s a testament to both training and the drivings skill and of even new drivers that anybody lasts through probation at all, considering the machinery and every driving variable. Or that there’s anybody left alive anywhere near a bus. But close calls of every kind get fewer the longer someone drives.

        One thing: In the DSTT, stopping for a runner ought to be an infraction. Service down there is slow and rough enough already. And any stop reverberates back up the tube.

        Notice that with LINK, passengers soon get the idea that shut doors mean step back. Though as bus headways shorten toward that of LINK, fewer passengers will also see any need to run.

        Mark Dublin

      2. Agree drivers should never stop for runners in the DSTT.

        Also should not happen downtown at all during AM and PM peaks.

        The equation is a bit more complex outside of downtown mostly because of long headways.

        But if drivers are going to stop for runners they need to do so gently unless there is a real danger of the runner going under the rear weels.

  5. It’s very good to read that Metro is trying to accommodate its passengers under difficult conditions. Though it doesn’t speak very well for either the agency or its workforce that it has always taken so long for any policy to be transmitted and understood by everybody on the line.

    Also true that successful communication depends first of all on all sides communicating clearly, knowing the importance of understanding, and not being openly hostile to either the subject, content, or source of the message.

    For every transit system, important subject and content include quickly improving bus interiors for heavy urban use. Two and one seating should be easy both to try, and to implement.

    Recall reading recently, or hearing on the radio, an example of an argument developing on between a bicyclist and a woman parking a car re: the new lane arrangement on Dexter.

    The moderator’s observation was that in more aggressively aggressive places, like the entire US east of Snoqualmie pass, people yell at each other more than here. With accents painfully evolved for maximum content transmission through background noise.

    No question “HOID YA!” best transmits past tense of “hear you.”

    But moderator thought that despite the dramatics, people acknowledge, through long habit, an aggravating public situation and quickly figure out what common sense dictates in each particular instance. Also, general good manners, however grumpily expressed.

    Meantime, the number of young people who offer me their seats really gives me hope for our society when desperation finally forces these passengers to get active in politics. And also strengthens my hope I won’t ever see the day I have to stop refusing their offer.


    1. If someone is thoughtful and courteous enough to offer me their seat I don’t want to hurt their feelings by refusing.

      1. Me too, Elbar. Both for unwillingness to seem ungrateful, but more from fear of being on You-Tube.

        And Twitter would be literally a billion times worse, with raging virtual mobs tearing each other to bytes over whether I was being condescending, or reacting from guilt over the huge break I get on fares.

        And whether I do or don’t deserve to feel guilty. And also how ashamed I should feel about depriving cats of the bandwidth they deserve. Hey- don’t the Cheshire ones just curl up on top of the overhead hand-rail and disappear, leaving their smile in place?


  6. Great news. I have been riding the bus a lot with my grandchildren over the past few years, and having to take the child out of a stroller, even a small foldable one, was always a big hassle. Looks like strollers have gotten much much bigger during the past few years, though, some are as large as, or even larger than most wheelchairs.

  7. And you people thought passengers who pay with cash delay the bus. Just wait for this scenario … There’s one wheelchair on board the bus, then a secured stroller with a child in it in the other wheelchair area, then there’s a wheelchair passenger at the bus stop wanting to board. The bus won’t be able to move until the parent unstraps and removes the child, unstraps the stroller and folds it, and finds a new place to sit and stores the folded stroller, and only then can the other wheelchair board.

    1. And how often does that happen?

      Cash-paying passengers are magnitudes more common than your scenario.

    2. Actually, I thought it was the line of cars in front of the bus (full of single-occupancy vehicles) that was delaying the bus. But you’re telling me it’s the stroller and wheelchair scourge who are causing those 20 min delays?

      Alright, I’ll grab the pitchforks, you get the torches.

  8. Strollers…how positively…common.

    My mother brought me up in a big dark blue buggy, with a double hood…plenty of room for a tyke to roll around in.

    Of course you would have needed a descending ramp and an entire cargo bay in which to accommodate it on a bus.

  9. De finely a failure to communicate within the organization the new policy. Metro’s own customer service department wasn’t aware of this new policy as of April 2nd when I sent them an inquiry and a request to allow children to remain in their strollers on the bus.
    This is the response I got back on April 2nd:

    Thank you for contacting King County Metro Transit.

    Metro Transit’s policy regarding strollers is as follows:

    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.

    If you have additional questions, please contact Metro Transit’s Customer Information Office at (206)553-3000 to speak with a Specialist.

    Again, thank you for contacting King County Metro Transit.



    King County Metro Transit
    Customer Information Office
    (206) 553-3000

    1. Wow, this is disappointing. I trust that customer service representatives and drivers do their best on whatever information is given, so clearly, the information hasn’t been conveyed.

      I hope Metro quickly rectifies this. Until then, print out a copy of the bulletin to have with you.

    2. And how much do you want to bet that, A), Over 90% of Metro bus drivers do not know about this policy change, and 2), Metro hasn’t removed the canned PSA from the list of interior bus announcements that says strollers must be folded?

    3. I rode the bus with kids in my double stroller last Friday. One driver was friendly and helpful, leaping out of his seat to fold up the handicapped seats for the stroller. I thanked him and commented on the new policy. He had no idea about the new policy. I hope it comes down to all the drivers. Not all are so nice as this guy!

  10. This is bullshit. Metro kowtowing to breeder privilege. Yet those of us who need to use priority seating get shunted to the back. Even when I bring my cane breeders and drivers tell me to move to the back. Guess what? Having kids doesn’t make you disabled!

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