Free buttons will let other passengers know when you’d appreciate a seat
Pregnancy is an amazing, wonderful experience. But it can also be exhausting and painful. If you’ve ever ridden public transport while carrying a +1 in your womb, then you know all too well how much of a relief it can be when someone offers you a seat during a crowded commute. But getting a seat when you’d love to sit down isn’t always easy. Between people who are more aware of their phones than fellow passengers, the dreaded manspreader, and those who don’t want offend a woman by assuming she’s pregnant, sometimes you’re left standing when you’d really appreciate a seat.
Luckily the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has a plan to help, at least for those in the tri-state area. From now until Labor Day, MTA is offering free “Baby on Board” buttons to pregnant women with the hope that seeing a woman wearing one will encourage other riders to offer up their seat.
The buttons are yellow and blue, and have the official MTA logo. Riders can order a free button online and expect delivery in about 3 weeks. They’re also offering a “Please offer me a seat” button for seniors, riders with disabilities or those with invisible illnesses who would benefit from sitting while riding.
“Pregnant riders, seniors and those with disabilities often need seats more than others but their condition may not always be visible, MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim said in a public statement. “We hope this campaign will help their fellow riders to be more willing to offer them a seat without having to ask a personal question first.”
Could a person who needs a seat ask their fellow passengers to stand for them? Sure. But deciding who looks most likely to give you their seat isn’t easy. And if they refuse or start to question your medical condition it’s going to be an uncomfortable ride for anyone in earshot. These buttons allow someone the chance to be gracious to a fellow passenger without anyone feeling singled out. And the person wearing the button doesn’t have to answer any questions as to why they need to sit.
This pilot program is free for anyone who would like a button and no doctor’s note or medical information is required. The program is self-enforced, so there’s no penalty to anyone who decides not to offer their seat to a person wearing one of these buttons (except for the sideeye you’ll probably get from your fellow passengers for the rest of the ride).
This is the first program of its kind in the United States. London has had a similar “Baby on Board” badge system since 2005 for expectant women and parents travelling with strollers. Hopefully this MTA trial run will lead to more cities adopting the idea.
Obviously, not every pregnant woman, senior or person with a disability or invisible illness needs or even wants a seat. But for those who do, these buttons are a great way to help with a common problem without having to discuss your medical history with strangers.
Being pregnant is hard enough as it is. How nice it would be to have one less thing to worry about.
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