For the price of absolutely nothing, the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority is now offering the pregnant, elderly and disabled wearable buttons to help encourage fellow subway, train and bus riders to give up their seats.
The free yellow and blue buttons that come complete with the official M.T.A. logo, are part of the agency’s ongoing effort campaign to encourage courtesy and politeness when using the public transportation system. As part of a pilot program, the buttons will be available from Mother’s Day through Labor Day. “Baby on Board” buttons will be available for expectant mothers while the elderly or people with disabilities can order a separate button reading “Please Offer Me a Seat.” Doctor’s notes will not be required when applying for a button.
This new initiative follows in the wake of the agency’s efforts to do away with ‘manspreading,’ better known as the impulse to sit with one’s legs spread wide, effectively taking up more than one seat. “Pregnant riders, seniors and those with disabilities often need seats more than others, but their condition may not always be visible,” explained Veronique Hakim, the M.T.A.’s interim executive director. “We hope this campaign will help their fellow riders to be more willing to offer them a seat without having to ask a personal question first.”
The idea for this newest step in the authority’s etiquette campaign was inspired by none other than Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, who wore a “Baby on Board” button when riding the London subway while pregnant in 2013. London transit officials hand out close to 130,000 of the buttons to riders every year.
While many riders say they often hesitate to offer their seat to women whom they aren’t certain are pregnant for fear of offending them, the M.T.A. hopes that the buttons will help clarify the choice for riders and encourage them to be courteous.
Read the full story at The New York Times.