I missed the train, again.
It was the third time in a week, but I knew I had better get used to it because getting on the subway with a baby carriage takes forever.
First, I have to get down the stairs because none of the stops near where I live have elevators. Then, I have to wait in line to tell the attendant that I’ll need him or her to open the gate, walk to the turnstile, swipe my MetroCard, try the gate, which is locked, walk back to the attendant to ask to open the gate again, and then, and only then, push my stroller through the gate to wait for my train.
The process makes it so difficult, it’s almost as if the MTA wants me not to pay for my ride and just walk through the gate behind another parent. For the record, I have a monthly MetroCard, and I’m too honest not to swipe. I could do what many parents are forced to do: leave the baby carriage by the gate while I swipe in and enter and then open the gate door for myself — but I’m too nervous she would be gone by the time I got there.
Look, I know that people with disabilities have it worse than most subway riders, with the lack of handicapped-accessible stations around NYC. But they get a special MetroCard to swipe through the gate, so it will open automatically. Why can’t I and the scores of other adults with baby strollers who routinely ride the subway also get such cards?
Being a parent of a baby is not a handicap. But in NYC, it sure feels like one. People often lament New York’s high cost of living — in part blaming it for the flight of the middle class to the suburbs.
But the difficulty of movement in NYC plagues me and other parents who would love to stay, if only getting around with our children were easier. (Woe to my poor neighbor with a new baby living in a walk-up!)
I know that the MTA is looking to end the MetroCard system, hoping to upgrade to a modern payment system, such as tapping a bank card or using a smartphone on an electronic reader. I hope the authority can take into account people with baby strollers, bikes, wheelchairs and other transport systems, and let us in through the gate.
That, and build more elevators, of course.
Amy Klein lives in South Harlem and writes about health, travel and parenting.