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69 TABLE 39 OC Transpo within days of the incident but was not satis- DOES THE AGENCY HAVE ANY BROCHURES SPECIFICALLY fied; and she was unsuccessful in her efforts to have the ABOUT USING/BRINGING ANY OF THE LARGE ITEMS driver fired. The Ottawa Citizen reported the city's response: SPECIFIED IN THIS SURVEY ON BOARD VEHICLES? "City of Ottawa ... said [that] the driver was immediately Yes 43% (16) suspended," and scheduled for retraining. The newspaper No 57% (21) quoted the city's explanation of the official regulations: n = 37. "There is no policy, per se, that restricts the number of stroll- ers. However, drivers do, on occasion, restrict the number if they feel they are blocking the aisles or if the bus is too A number of respondents also sent along links to their crowded or whatever" (Gonczol 2008). online information. One agency "has a video library" on its website offering instructional videos about "How to Ride the Refocusing on the Issue Bus," including one on stroller use. Another noted that "in many cases information is on the web, but not necessarily in Editorial response to the incident was mixed. One reader printed material." wrote that she found "that strollers have become a major headache for bus drivers and other passengers." She contin- ued that she was "fed up with tripping over [strollers] while ONE AGENCY'S EXPERIENCE: OC TRANSPO, trying to get seated before the bus starts." Her letter drew OTTAWA, ONTARIO--DEVELOPING, REFINING, AND particular attention to the fact that OC Transpo's policies ENFORCING POLICIES, AND PUBLIC OUTCRY were either not well defined or not well publicized: "What happens if a person in a wheelchair wants to get on and the Prelude to a Policy Shift bus is packed with strollers? Who has priority? Do a couple of strollers have to get off?" (Swallow 2008). On Saturday, October 4, 2008, an OC Transpo bus driver stopped to pick up passengers waiting near a shopping area Another reader, a mother who uses a stroller to transport in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada--among them, two mothers her infant daughter, offered a different perspective. Because with children in strollers. One of the mothers was traveling she is reliant on public transit, she said, she has "encoun- with her two children: a seven-month-old infant in a stroller, tered numerous scenarios" involving either bus driver sym- and a two-year-old toddler walking alongside. Upon the bus's pathy or apathy toward her situation. "Some of the drivers arrival, the driver stated that he was restricting entry to only graciously wait as I find a seat before leaving the stop," she one of the passengers with a stroller. Apparently, although in wrote, "while others have taken off at an alarming speed the words of the toddler's mother, the bus was "pretty much as soon as I step on the bus, making it very difficult to get empty," the driver thought that more than one additional situated." She concluded that "drivers need to think about... stroller could cause capacity issues (Gonczol 2008). how they should be treating their customers," and "that OC Transpo [should make] their stroller policy clearer to the According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, the mother public" (Delisle 2008). "told the driver they should both be allowed to board and said that she wanted to speak with his supervisor. The driver A local columnist writing for the Ottowa Citizen also refused, prompting other passengers to argue that both pressured OC Transpo into clarifying its policy. She cited women should be allowed to board." Ultimately, upon the Vancouver's TransLink as a model for a stroller policy, prais- irritated passenger's attempt to lift the stroller on the bus, ing its specific pronouncements of priority rankings and the driver reiterated his "no" answer, and quickly closed the stroller size. "How can an organization this vital to the city's doors. What the driver did not realize was that the wom- well-being," she questioned of OC Transpo, "be unable to an's two-year-old had gotten on the bus as soon as the doors figure out where to put a stroller?" (Egan 2008). opened, and was now separated from her mother. After sig- nificant onboard outcry, and with the help of another hopeful OC Transpo Proposes a Policy Update boarder running alongside the bus, the driver stopped the vehicle about 300 meters down the road. Upon allowing the In response to the outcry, OC Transpo made a comprehen- toddler to alight, the driver "simply shut the door and contin- sive effort to update its policies on priority seating rules and ued on his route" (Gonczol 2008). stroller usage. "The intent of the new stroller policy," a staff report read, "is to provide a method for operators and riders The incident was ultimately a watershed event, prompt- to better manage the front area of the bus in a safe and con- ing public outcry, an accumulation of complaints, and a sistent method." Because the updated policy incorporated "a distillation of calls for equity among users of OC Transpo number of parameters investigated at other transit agencies," transit operations. The mother received an explanation from key excerpts are quoted here:

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70 Stroller Eligibility: Other attendees worried that they would lose access to basic mobility and related opportunities if not allowed to travel with An open stroller occupied by a child will be allowed on the bus if: their children in strollers. One young mom who travels with her child in a stroller noted that OC Transpo's bus service, by It is capable of being folded giving her access to college, "has helped give back to It is capable of being safely stowed the community and [be] a successful person." Ultimately, the transportation committee found "that the policy was unrealis- I t will not interfere with other passengers or with the tic." OC Transpo thus maintained its original policy, wherein safe movement of passengers within the transit vehicle, "transit drivers...decide the size and number of open strollers It can be wheeled, or (when folded) carried, through that can be on board at one time" (CBC News 2009). the aisle without contacting the seats. Refining the Status Quo Strollers that are not occupied by a child must be folded and stowed upon boarding. OC Transpo subsequently sent the issue to other city orga- nizations for review, including the seniors' and accessibil- (OC Transpo 2009) ity advisory committees. The two committees, according to a February 2010 Metro article, "suggested changes to The new policy also specified that open strollers carrying the policy" with regard to the "co-operative seating area" a child "must be placed in a wheelchair position," best if "fac- on OC Transpo buses. Stroller users again rejected the ing to the rear with wheels locked." The policy addresses sev- changes, arguing that "parents were being discriminated eral contingencies as well: for example, if "a person using a against" because "strollers [should] not be allowed in the wheelchair boards and needs that position, the customer with aisle, but that shopping carts were fine." A transport offi- the stroller will be expected to fold and stow the stroller and cial responded, saying that "they originally restricted shop- hold the child." Furthermore, double strollers are required ping carts, but the advisory committees requested that to "fit all the required parameters for single strollers, other restriction[s] be lifted" (Wieclawski 2010). than being able to be folded." A double stroller "will only be allowed on board if a wheelchair position is available." All A press release from the Ottawa City Council's February of these actions are to be done "without assistance." The new 24, 2010, meeting details the new stroller policy agreement: policy was designed to be implemented in a trial period, in Caregivers carrying a child in a stroller are asked to put conjunction with general priority seating updates, and OC the stroller in a space designated for wheelchairs if there Transpo planned significant public outreach in support of the is one available. If a wheelchair position is not available, policy (OC Transpo 2009). open strollers are allowed in the aisle unless they interfere with other passengers or with the safe movement of transit users. If this happens, the operator may ask the Reaction and Rejection of the New Policy customer to fold the stroller. (This is current practice.) If an open stroller is in a wheelchair area and someone Ultimately, however, as the Canadian Broadcasting Corpo- with a wheelchair requires that space, the stroller will ration put it, "Bus-riding moms win Ottawa stroller fight." be required to move. As always, customers can fold and stow their strollers upon boarding. By doing so, they can The corresponding article reported on the city's transpor- sit in the Cooperative Seating area with their child on tation committee's November 2008 consideration of the their lap (Ottawa City Council 2010). new policy: "More than a dozen moms armed with babies and strollers rolled into Ottawa city protest rules that would have restricted bulky strollers on transit buses," In late March 2010, the Ottawa Citizen reported that the it summarized. "And in the end, councilors backed down" City Council had amended the new policy, requiring "OC (CBC News 2009). Transpo staff [to] be offered training with regard to dealing with conflicting needs and that drivers having received such The mothers' argument was tied to the practical necessi- training be accorded the necessary authority to deal with the ties of following the new rules, and incorporated concerns of circumstances that arise." The newspaper noted that despite social justice and limited opportunities. First, several protes- the fallout surrounding the stroller incident that inspired tors noted that even folding a stroller would be a difficult task: the controversy, "the [new] policy does not explain what "Where do you put the infant if you are folding your stroller?" happens to an open stroller on a route that becomes more one mom asked. "Do I need to hand my child over to a stranger crowded as the ride progresses" (Stroller Policy Amended to while I fold my stroller if there's no room for me on that bus?" Add Training Clause 2010).