This morning I woke up to a news story that the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission for those of you not from around these parts) is being asked to investigate measures to LIMIT the number of strollers allowed on transit during peak hours. The wonderful citizen (and a woman, no less) who raised this also suggested an extra $2 stroller fare ON TOP of the parent’s existing transit fee, which is now $3 per ride.
Sure enough, I went on my Twitter to find that it had exploded with moms raising their objections (I was one of them!).
Here’s the thing. I totally get that strollers are a pain in the butt. I pushed one of those things around for about 6 years straight and I can tell you that they do take up a lot of space and can be unweildy and awkward when you have to go on transit or into smaller retailers and restaurants. Strollers have also gotten really really big. Maybe unecessarily so, but I would argue that a stroller was our family’s main method of transportation for many years, and we needed the extra room for diaper bags, and groceries. Also, smaller umbrella strollers seem to be made for those well under 5’5 and I would have long ago developed some kind of hunchback or major spinal problem had I pushed one for all those years. And quite frankly, it is incredibly nerve wracking to bring a flimsy umbrella stroller onto a full streetcar because it is so low, leaving your child virtually unprotected from the surrounding people who press against it.
Strollers were a major consideration when we moved into our current house. We had a 2 1/2 year old, one on the way, and no car. No way were we buying off the subway line and becoming dependent on busses or streetcars. Why? Because there was no way I could lug strollers on and off, but also because I knew how stressful it was when you dared try to take your kid onto a relatively busy mode of public transit. The stink eye and attitude you get from other travellers was something I knew I could not handle on a regular basis.
So, here’s what I have to say to the TTC stroller haters. Lighten up and get some freaking perspective people! Do you think we parents (mostly moms, let’s face it) bring stroller onto the TTC just to piss you off? We are going to or from doctor’s appointments, and daycares, running errands, and living our lives. Just to get onto transit, we have to exhibit superhuman feats of strength and coordination getting the damned strollers up and down stairs and escalators. We park awkwardly on the bus because nobody has the courtesy to shove over a little and let us through to a more out-of-the way-location. Maybe it will shock you, but we moms are actually reluctant to use OUR CHILDREN as battering rams to force people to move out of our way, especially when dude with the big backpack or lady with the monster sized handbag keeps turning around and almost hitting my kid in the head because they aren’t paying any attention to what is going on around them.
To the woman who decided to bring up this complaint in the first place, I say ‘thank you’ for being incredibly selfish and self-serving and setting feminism back a good couple of years. Did it never occur to you that many of the people who take strollers on transit HAVE NO OTHER MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION? There are many single parents out there who can barely afford the $3 fare for themselves, never mind a $2 surcharge on a stroller! Or would you rather they and their children just stay home and keep our of your line of sight? Because I get the impression you seem to think that public transit is only for those middle to upper class suburban Torontonians who can pat themselves on the back because they are helping the environment by driving their minivans to the nearest subway stop and then taking transit into the city.
EVERY citizen of this city has the right to be on public transit whenever they damned well need to be. Yes, that sometimes means waiting for the second or even third bus or streetcar before you can get on. And sometimes it means that a baby in a stroller will be crying because of the crush of people around it and the mother’s physical inability to pick it up and soothe it on a packed train. If the whole thing is making you so miserable that you need to launch an official complaint with the TTC about it, then maybe you should consider relocating and cutting down on your own, obviously miserable, commute. Or maybe you should get yourself a car and make the trip in to work through our lovely commuter traffic. Let’s see how quickly you change your tune then!