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Vancouver's buses not stroller friendly

REBECCA KEILLOR, FOR 24 HOURS
Yeddanapudi Radhika - seen here with her son Himadri on the No. 20 Victoria/Downtown bus in Vancouver - laments that she has had difficulty getting onto crowded buses with her stroller. (TAMEEM BARAKAT FOR 24 HOURS)

Yeddanapudi Radhika - seen here with her son Himadri on the No. 20 Victoria/Downtown bus in Vancouver - laments that she has had difficulty getting onto crowded buses with her stroller. (TAMEEM BARAKAT FOR 24 HOURS)

A growing number of new moms are turning away from public transit, complaining that buses are not stroller friendly.

Katrina Lee, mother of twin 10-month-old girls, said she's stopped riding the bus because she never knows if she'll be able to get on.

"They were either too full or someone was in the wheelchair spot or they had another stroller on or they'd tell me my stroller was too big," said Lee, 34. "Now I drive everywhere, which I absolutely hate."

While Lee has simply opted not to ride, women in other cities have dug in their wheels and engaged in stroller wars.

Fights between commuters and bus drivers have been recently reported in Ottawa and Saskatoon. In a stroller standoff in Halifax earlier this month, police were called to resolve a dispute between a bus driver and group of mothers refusing to fold up their strollers.

In Vancouver, Coast Mountain Bus Company's Craig Peters admitted the issue has grown, partly because the modern-day stroller is not the pram of the past.

"In the old days, strollers were much smaller and they were all fold-up style," Peters said.

TransLink spokesman Drew Snider said trainers and operators commonly complain about what they call "4X4" strollers, which are considerably bigger and ungainly.

Strollers now compete with wheelchairs and scooters, people with disabilities and seniors for the open area at the front of the bus, and are ranked last in this list.

"I would like some recognition from the drivers that I'm just like any other passenger who has the right to get on board," said mother Yeddanapudi Radhika, 43.

TransLink says there's been 16 complaints "with the word stroller" as of August this year, down from 42 in 2010.

"We try to provide the best service we can for as many different types of people and as many different types of customers that we possibly can and if people have an alternative that works better for them - we encourage that," Snider said.

Vancouver city councilor Andrea Reimer said moms shouldn't have to seek alternative transportation, but rather more funding is needed for Transit and more bus service hours to alleviate overcrowding.