(CBS) — CTA is turning up the heat a bit on riders who hog priority seating space with strollers when seniors or riders with disabilities are on board.
Effective immediately, if a rider in a wheelchair or with other disabilities, or a senior citizen, wishes to make use of the priority area, drivers are to announce that they have priority and ask others occupying the space to move. CTA President Forrest Claypool said drivers in such cases also could tell riders with strollers to fold them if they wished to stay on the bus.
For now, however, Claypool said he will not seek to implement the Pace stroller policy, which requires strollers to be folded at all times. He said “more draconian” measures such as that could be considered if problems on board buses and trains continue.
Claypool reacted to an appearance before the CTA’s transit board Wednesday by Ray Yung, a 46-year-old Rogers Park resident who, for more than 35 years, has had a disability that limits his ability to stand and frequently forces him to resort to crutches.
He said his legs “swell up like a donut” if he is forced to stand — and he said he often is.
Yung said he has encountered a cold reception from riders and bus drivers alike.
“I see a stroller there and I ask the lady nicely if I can have the seat because this is priority seating,” he said. “I need the seat. And they say, ‘No. I got here first. You can stand.”
He said he’s had bus drivers tell him he has no right to ask, and said some have put him off their buses.
CTA, Pace and Metra have long had policies that gives those with disabilities first priority, with senior citizens right behind. CTA statistics show that complaints from those who are eligible for priority seating but were denied access are down. Claypool said signage aboard buses and trains will be renewed.
Claypool said the first focus will be the routes Yung regularly uses, which include the 22/Clark, 36 Broadway, 78/Montrose, 147/Outer Drive Express, 151/Sheridan and 155/Devon bus routes.
Yung said he was “very pleased” by Claypool’s actions, although he said he will wait to see how it works in everyday transit use.