Out of no where (it seems), the CEO of the Toronto Transit Commission Andy Byford said this morning that his service is no-way, no-how considering the charging of a premium on riders with strollers. “There is no question whatsoever of considering a charge for strollers,” he told the Toronto Sun. “I’m not going to go there. That is not on my agenda at all. I think that would be wrong.”
Okay. The comments were made after commissioners asked for a report to see the impact of charging more for strollers on TTC buses, streetcars and subways. I'm not sure specifically where the request came from, the TTC, like a lot of transit systems, doesn't have a hard and fast policy about strollers whether it's how many strollers can be allowed on a vehicle at any given time, or at what point the size of a given stroller becomes restrictive.
Our own transit system, Guelph Transit, has rules about strollers having to be folded up when riders get on the bus, but it's a rule that's enforced with some degree of indifference, and drivers all differ in terms of how many strollers they'll let on the bus at any time; some will pile them on, others are a bit more cautious.
Now someone might construe any measure where people with strollers pay more as anti-child, anti-parent, or just simply categorized as inhumane. This may make people fire from the hip upon hearing someone float the idea of targeting them to pay more, like this editorial in the Toronto Star, but notice the picture that accompanied the article:
I've seen those strollers, they've been around for a while and they're fairly easy to fold up, but the problem is that most of the strollers I see on the bus on a daily basis are more like these:
These ones don't fold up so easy. They're the stroller equivalent of sports utility vehicles: stupidly large considering how their used, and rarely used for the purpose it was designed for. Paternally-speaking, the sturdy build of these strollers, which are actually intended as jogging strollers, is probably the reason for their appeal, but like SUVs, these strollers are built sturdy for action, not to drift gently over the pavement at a regular pace. They're big, there's no way for them to be folded up and stowed easily, and if you get three or four of them on a bus not only are you congesting the aisle, but you're creating a potentially deadly gauntlet if the bus gets in trouble and people have to get off fast.
Obviously, one might infer from all this I'd be for people with strollers getting charged more to ride transit, but I don't know. Trying to modify people's behaviour by making them pay more doesn't always work, and some people will even pay more for the privilege. Of course, trying to modify people's behaviour through education (and, dare I say, nagging) is not without difficulty either, look at how hard it is to convince people that's there's no constant threat from tap water to keep them stocking up on the bottled variety.
Do you really need such a stroller if simply going out with your baby? And by "baby," I mean baby because I've seen kids damn close to being eligible for kindergarten still being pushed around in these things. If you do have to use a massive stroller, try and think of others. Perhaps catching the bus around school time or rush hour - you know, when the buses are packed - is not such a great time to be leaving to run errands. But if that is the time you want to leave, don't be surprised if some driver says there's no room for you and your tank, and don't get angry about it. Unlike strollers, buses are one size fits all.
In an effort to not let this turn into a tirade, I'll pull the 'chute here and not mention the obnoxious trait of many people with kids demanding that the will of the world bend to them simply because they're parents (I really hate that. (Yes, you can procreate. Good for you.) But if you want transit systems like the TTC to give you respect as a parent, then give it back to the rest of your fellow transit riders by carrying your child in something a little more portable.