Two years after establishing a policy to allow bus riders to keep children in strollers, Pittsburgh Regional Transit is getting pushback from riders who use wheelchairs.

Advocates for those who use wheelchairs told the authority’s board of directors Friday that riders with strollers are taking their assigned space and drivers are sometimes refusing to let them board because there isn’t a safe space. CEO Katharine Eagan Kelleman said the agency will hold public meetings to talk about the policy and look for solutions.

Before 2022, riders with strollers were required to fold the strollers and either put the child on a seat or hold the child. Kelleman, who had children 16 months apart, said she couldn’t have imagined trying to navigate a bus ride holding a child and a stroller, so she changed the policy with little fanfare and no public input.

Now, some riders who use a wheelchair say the policy has become a problem because strollers often use the same space set aside at the front of a bus to secure wheelchairs. If those spaces are taken by strollers, riders with wheelchairs can be passed by until a bus with appropriate space arrives.

Reading from a letter submitted to the board, Daeja Baker of Pittsburghers for Public Transit said this creates potentially dangerous situations for riders who use wheelchairs that aren’t strapped in place and children in strollers that have no method to be secured.

“The new policy has resulted in increased barriers for people who use wheelchairs and scooters, and we are troubled by implementation that appears to not to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said the letter, also signed by the Committee for Accessible Transportation and Access Mob Pittsburgh.

“It also has not been applied in a way that keeps riders, especially young children, safe. We are concerned that the failure to ensure both strollers and children are secure will result in harm to some of PRT’s most vulnerable riders.”

The groups urged PRT to enforce designated seating for riders with disabilities and created s separate designated space for open strollers.

Before the riders spoke, Kelleman said during her monthly report that she set the stroller policy based on her experience as a mother but admitted there should have been more input. That will happen beginning in the fall, she said.

“I apologize for creating more of an issue than we needed to,” she said.

In an interview after the meeting, Kelleman said the transit industry faces a challenge trying to accommodate everyone with special needs on the same vehicle. Drivers can face a balancing act with riders with luggage, large packages, backpacks, wheelchairs and strollers, she said, and they shouldn’t have the added stress of trying to police who can ride and where they should sit.

John Tague, an advocate for people with disabilities who use a wheelchair and sits on the PRT board, said he’s confident the agency will address the concerns properly.

“What we want to do is be welcoming to all riders,” he said. “Let’s not overstate the problem. Let’s come up with a solution.”

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at