The MTA launched a new awareness campaign encouraging commuters to show some courtesy by getting up and offering their seats to pregnant, senior, or disabled riders who need to sit.
The pilot program launched yesterday, on Mother’s Day, and will run throughout the summer until Labor Day, September 4. The MTA will distribute free blue and yellow buttons reading, “Baby On Board” or “Please offer me a seat” to help commuters easily identify fellow riders who need to take a load off.
The London Transport system has been distributing similar badges since 2005, handing out approximately 130,000 each year. Kate Middleton reportedly wore a “Baby On Board” badge in 2013 while pregnant, though it’s not clear whether the Duchess actually took a ride on the London Underground or not.
While the MTA already sets aside “priority seating” on subways, buses, and trains for disabled passengers, the campaign encourages riders to give up any seat to someone wearing one of these MTA-issued buttons. Like the London program, the MTA’s awareness campaign is voluntary and self-enforced, meaning offenders will not be fined or penalized apart from the shaming glares they’ll receive from other passengers.
The courtesy campaign buttons are part of the MTA’s plans to make the transit system more accessible.
“The MTA is committed to promoting access to our system for people with disabilities,” MTA Interim Executive Director, Ronnie Hakim, said in a statement introducing the program.
“Over the coming years, this will involve spending billions to make more of our system ADA-accessible through the addition of elevators at stations and focusing on ways we can improve the availability of our existing elevators,” Hakim added. “This awareness campaign is another step we can take to help our riders and to encourage kindness throughout our vast system.”
Anyone with a disability (temporary or permanent) that affects their need to sit on the subway, bus, or train can request one (1) button by completing an online application. Buttons will be mailed in approximately three weeks. No fee or documentation is needed.
The MTA is the largest public transportation system in North America. This awareness button program is the first of its kind in the United States.