Navigating New York's public transporation system with a stroller

Wondering how to juggle baby and stroller through the city's miles of track?  Read what our members have to say:

Question :
We just got our first umbrella stroller (Maclaren Quest), and I'm
wondering what the protocol is for bringing it on the subway and bus.
1) Can you roll a stroller onto escalators, or do you have to fold it
and carry the baby?
2) If the stroller doesn't fit through the turnstiles, do you have to
approach the station agent's booth to get them to open the special
entry gate, or is there a way around this?
3) Is it okay just to open the gates when getting off and let the
alarm go off, or is it better to ring the button and get buzzed through?
4) If it's a full subway or bus, are you expected to fold your
stroller and hold your baby, or is keeping the baby in the stroller
acceptable, even though it's using up space? Are the rules different
for subways and buses?
5) If the subway is fairly empty and you get a seat, what's the best
position to park the stroller in so it's next to you but not using up
too much space?

Any advice on these and anything else would be appreciated!


Member replies :

I take my six  month old on the subway all the time. He is always in his
bugaboo and loves it.
Below please find my answers to your questions:

1) Can you roll a stroller onto escalators, or do you have to fold it
and carry the baby? I wouldn't recommend you take the escalators.

I always take the steps (unless there are elevators such as on
Atlantic Avenue Station) and ask someone to carry the stroller with me.

2) If the stroller doesn't fit through the turnstiles, do you have to
approach the station agent's booth to get them to open the special
entry gate, or is there a way around this?

You should talk to the agent and ask him to open up the gate for you
so the baby can go through because most strollers do not fit through
the turnstile.

3) Is it okay just to open the gates when getting off and let the
alarm go off, or is it better to ring the button and get buzzed through?

I always just open the gate and haven't had any problems with doing
so.

4) If it's a full subway or bus, are you expected to fold your
stroller and hold your baby, or is keeping the baby in the stroller
acceptable, even though it's using up space? Are the rules different
for subways and buses?

Nobody would expect you to take your 6 month baby out of the stroller
I think. I have never taken my baby out of the stroller even when it
is really busy. I just feel it is too many people and in the stroller
he is much more protected from people coughing on him etc.

5) If the subway is fairly empty and you get a seat, what's the best
position to park the stroller in so it's next to you but not using up
too much space?

I usually just park the stroller in front of me and put it on its
brake.

Good luck with taking your baby on the subway. My baby loves it and
usually falls asleep.


________


Answers to questions with which I am too familiar:

1) Technically you have to fold the stroller on the escalator, that is
their rule. I never have, I drive on and proceed carefully. Going
down, front wheels up, back wheel on the step below me; going up, wheels
on two different steps. However, I would only do it with a lightweight
narrow stroller, like a Maclaren, because a wider one might get stuck
and a heavy one can't be lifted up if the escalator breaks while riding
(happened to me once), nor could you lift it up at the end if it didn't
go over the hump for some reason, which would make it risky for a fall.

2) Yes, you must get the gate agent's cooperation. Get their attention
and they will watch you swipe the card and turn the turnstile (but don't
go through), then they will open the gate for you. At busy stations,
like Herald Square, I swipe and then wait for someone else to open the
gate coming out, it is easier.

3) Open the gates and let the alarm buzz. Otherwise you'll be there
forever.

4) Technically you are supposed to fold your stroller on both subways
and buses. However, nobody enforces the rule on the subways. The buses
are sticklers, though, and they will not under most circumstances let
you bring a stroller on that is not folded. I did see a sympathetic bus
driver let a mom with a sleeping newborn leave the stroller intact, but
that has been the only sighting ever, and I have always been forced to
fold, which makes the buses much less attractive to use with stroller
aged kids. What a pain.

5) On the subway, I take a corner seat if possible and park the
stroller parallel to the line of seats, enough out so people can get to
the two other seats. On a crowded subway, watch out for people who want
to hold on to your stroller for support, it can tip your stroller when
the subway starts and stops. Make sure you engage your stroller brakes.

_____________


I'd like to put a vote out there for pressing the call button and
waiting for the station attendant to buzz the gate open whenever
possible. There are certainly times and stations where you just can't
get anyone's attention, etc, but at least here in the neighborhood,
I've always found that they will open the gate for you pretty
quickly. The alarm that goes off when the gate is opened is an awful
sound - not so good for our ears, our babies ears, and all of our
psyches. I spent a year and a half commuting with my son and stroller
on the subway and spent so many days cringing through that gate or
praying that the alarm wouldn't wake him up from a much needed nap.

___________

In some stations, if you push on the door and not the big bar across
the door, it will open without the alarm sounding. In such cases, if
you try to buzz the station attendant, they might just roll their eyes
and bark at you to push the door (in my experience).