LRTA Delays Enforcement of Folding Strollers, Carts Policy
LOWELL -- Bus riders won’t have to fold up those grocery carts just yet.
Following pushback from local residents and officials, the Lowell Regional Transit Authority announced Wednesday it would put plans to enforce a policy affecting grocery carts, strollers and walkers on hold Wednesday.
“We did this obviously for the right reasons,” said James Scanlan, administrator of the LRTA. “But sometimes even if you do it for the right reasons, sometimes you miss some things along the way.”
In April, a notice posted on buses and the LRTA website announced all stroller and grocery carts must be folded before entering the bus. Additionally, some walkers must also be folded and all items must fit under the seat, according to the post.
The announcement caught the attention of riders concerned they would no longer be able to ride the bus to shop for groceries or properly store their walkers.
On Tuesday, a motion submitted by Councilor Karen Cirillo resulted in the City Council asking City Manager Eileen Donoghue to contact the LRTA to at least delay the change.
Wednesday morning, the first day the policy was expected to go into effect, Scanlan called Donoghue. The two decided to postpone the change to allow time for more conversations with city officials and members of the community.
“Their willingness to hit pause on this while we work through issues is very commendable,” Donoghue said.
Scanlan said while this policy was never on the LRTA’s website or in its operating procedures prior to the post, it’s a standard in the industry and posted on bus doors. He previously said these items can pose a safety issue if left in the aisle.
Further discussion of the issue will be “deliberate,” he said. Scanlan said he hopes to have more answers in two to three months.
Donoghue suggested discretion on a case by case basis.
Some strollers and walkers are not collapsible or the user is physical unable to collapse them, Scanlan said. In some cases, when walkers do not fit under the seat he asked whether they could be stored on top of the seat.
“We want to be flexible and we want to have discretion and at the same time we’re going to talk to our employees and make sure they understand exactly what we’re saying,” Scanlan said. “Sometimes it’s not just cut and dry. Sometimes there’s circumstance that they can allow discretion on some of these things.”
Scanlan said the notices of the policy change were taken down when it was put on hold Wednesday morning.
“I think it’s trying to work collaboratively with the riders and with the LRTA,” Donoghue said. “I think the main take away from me is this council raised important issues and respectfully asked the LRTA to consider them. So I applaud the fact that the LRTA is taking the time to consider this and to work together so people aren’t prevent from riding and at the same time making sure that the aisles are passable.”
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