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It's Now Easier for Moms to Ride the Train in This City

Photograph by Twenty20

Being an expecting mama while living in a big city can be rough enough, with having to walk with your belly down crowded streets and commute on even more-crowded public transportation. And, if you've ever navigated public transportation while pregnant, you pretty much deserve a merit badge. But if you're in New York City, your life may just have gotten easier.

On Mother's Day, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) revealed their brand new Baby on Board program, which gives pregnant women buttons that they can put on their bags or coats in order to let other riders know that they need a seat. In an effort to make commuting as a mom-to-be little bit easier, subway riders will now have no excuse to not give up their seats to a woman in need. (That is, if their faces aren't buried in their smartphones.)

Currently, the MTA has plastered subway trains with signs asking for priority seats to be set aside for people with disabilities, the elderly and pregnant women. But not only are there not enough of these signs, they also go regularly ignored. It's not that New Yorkers are rude, really, they just like their own comforts and tend to ignore things when it's convenient. Setting their best manners aside during a long commute isn't so much being impolite as it is ignorant. Well, now there are buttons and absolutely NO excuses.

The MTA, which runs the city's public transportation, has released two different types of buttons in a pilot program that launches on Memorial Day and runs through Labor Day. The "Baby on Board" button is made specifically for pregnant women who wish to find a seat on the subway while the "Please offer me a seat, courtesy counts" button is for the elderly or someone with a chronic injury.

"A little courtesy goes a long way. Providing a seat to a special-needs user, without having an awkward conversation, can make a big difference with a small gesture," said Veronica Vanterpool, an MTA board member and the executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, in a statement. "I’m glad the MTA is launching this pilot campaign to remind its customers of priority seating while also explicitly including pregnant women and older adults to the group of special-needs transit users."

The idea may have actually come from a similar program in London, during which Kate Middleton wore a similar pin, according to Hello Giggles. At the time, the buttons were well received, though there was at least one instance in which a man asked a woman to "prove" that she was pregnant. Apparently he hadn't heard that having a baby bump wasn't the only sign that a woman is expecting.

In the meantime, New York mamas are rejoicing at the news. Although it might be hard for people to remember to keep their manners during those oh-so-busy and headache-inducing commutes, it's important to not let that keep you from doing the right thing to let pregnant moms take a seat. Thanks to these new "Baby on Board" signs, that will be easier than it was before.

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