In the “ideas from abroad” column, the Metropolitan Transit Authority will begin offering pregnant riders a better shot at getting a seat on packed subway cars by way of a big yellow and blue button that reads “Baby on Board” and bears the MTA logo in an attempt to encourage passengers to offer up their seats, the NYTimes reports. Reportedly the idea began in London, where the underground has had a similar program in place for pregnant riders since 2005. Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge, got some public attention when she wore one on the Tube in 2013. Officials said about 130,000 buttons are distributed on the London transit system every year.
It’s the first time this strategy has been attempted in the U.S. according to officials. It’s not uncommon for pregnant women riding the subway to be ignored by either rude or clueless passengers; the big yellow signs will ostensibly give them less of an excuse. One pregnant New Yorker says she got so fed up with not being offered a seat by rude dudes that she took to carrying a trophy reading “#1 DECENT DUDE” in case it actually happened–though it’s worth mentioning that some riders may hesitate to offer up a seat if they’re not certain that a rider is pregnant for fear of offending the woman in question (also that women have been known to ignore pregnant riders as well).
Still, the London button campaign has had its bumps, including mothers-to-be who say they’re still ignored even while wearing the button. One woman says a man even asked her to prove she was pregnant.
The New York buttons will be available from Mother’s Day through Labor Day as part of a pilot program. There won’t be any penalties for ignoring the button, and a doctor’s note isn’t required for the mom-to-be. The buttons are free and can be ordered online. They should take about three weeks to arrive according to officials. A button that reads “Please Offer Me a Seat” is also available, intended for older people and riders with disabilities.
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Tags : MTA