I ride the bus with little kids, and being able to bring a stroller on board makes the ride a lot easier for me. For this, I like the Green Line the best, with its level boarding, wide walkways and space for a stroller. I have been very excited for the A Line to start service, and to see how easy it would be to take a stroller on board. Here is the story of my first A Line ride with three kids and a double stroller.
We arrived at Snelling and Saint Clair northbound station, where my three year old son Alex immediately hit the emergency call button in the shelter. Dispatcher Mike promptly responded and was very polite when I told him we had no emergency. But I was happy to know that if there were an emergency at the station, help is easy to reach.
My eleven year old daughter Sylvia and I scanned our Go To cards at the station, since the A Line offers preboarding fare payment, like the Green Line. I really appreciate this feature, because I don’t have a hand free for scanning a card when I’m boarding a stroller.
The station pylon informed us we had 5 minutes to wait until the next bus arrived. I planned to board through the back door when the bus arrived, since you can board the A Line through either door and the back door is extra wide.
When the bus arrived, the bus driver stopped with the front door right in front of us, so we boarded through the front door. The bus stopped a few inches from the curb, and required a step up for my stroller. It was easy for me to board without help, but a person in a wheelchair would need the ramp. The door and walkway were wide enough for my stroller to maneuver.
The bus driver suggested to me that many riders fold up their strollers and hold their babies because it’s safer, but said it was up to me. My stroller is difficult to fold up and carry while holding my baby, so I chose to leave my baby in it. I noticed the Customer Code of Conduct still requires strollers to be folded up while riding, so I appreciated that the driver told me it was my choice.
The A Line buses have spaces to accommodate two (or three?) wheelchairs, so I lifted up the seats on one side and parked the stroller there. I liked that there is a separate companion seat, so I could sit next to the stroller.
As we rode north, I noticed that the Snelling and Como northbound station was relocated for the weekend to Snelling and Midway Parkway, to accommodate riders attending the MSRA Back to the 50s car show at the State Fair grounds. I’m guessing Metro Transit will do the same during the State Fair.
We arrived at Rosedale and exited through the back door. The curbs at Rosedale have not been rebuilt like the other A Line stations, and it was a big step down. We didn’t get any pictures of the stroller offboarding, because I needed designated photographer Sylvia to help me with it. But she got this one of Alex jumping from the bus to the curb.
Final thoughts: the A Line buses are a nice improvement over regular Metro Transit buses for people boarding with strollers, carts, and wheelchairs. I hope Metro Transit adopts this style of bus for its regular routes, as well as future arterial bus rapid transit lines.