Expectant moms may soon be able to ride public transportation in Chicago more comfortably.
According to a report from the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Transit Authority confirmed on Monday that they have a plan to begin supplying buttons for pregnant women to wear, in an effort to raise awareness about giving them a seat on otherwise full buses and trains.
A CTA source divulged to the outlet that the rollout would “happen sooner rather than later,” but additional button details — including the look, exact date of availability, cost (if any) and more — have not been released yet.
“The details of the CTA program — specific launch date, distribution plan, button design — are close to being finalized,” a spokesperson for CTA, Brian Steele, told the Sun-Times about the initiative that they’re “stoked” about.
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In a statement obtained by NBC 5 Chicago, the CTA said the idea for the buttons didn’t arise from rider complaints — instead, they said, “We’re always looking to evolve and find ways to improve the public transit experience.”
Speaking with the Sun-Times, 38-year-old Chicago-based mom Erin Fowler said she brought up the idea of the buttons at a CTA board meeting in 2013, citing her own experience with finding it difficult to get a seat on the L train during her daily downtown commute.
She was inspired by “Baby on Board” buttons she saw worn by pregnant tube riders during a trip she took to London, telling the Sun-Times of her public request, “I had a script and I tried to be articulate and get them to take me seriously, and I submitted a summary of my comments.”
In an interview with the Sun-Times, obstetrics and gynecology instructor Dr. Julie Levitt of Northwestern Memorial Hospital said pregnant women are “more prone to motion sickness when you’re not the driver or the navigator.”
“Just being able to take a load off by sitting down would be outstanding,” she added, explaining that expectant mothers who are standing for long periods of time are “more prone to fainting because the circulation in terms of moving blood back to the heart is a little slower.”
The CTA has made strides in the past to help pregnant women be more comfortable on public transportation via loudspeakers, signs and more, even launching a “courtesy campaign” in 2015 that encouraged riders to keep their spaces neat, limit phone conversations and other noise and, yes, give up seats for pregnant women.
“Remember, your mother was pregnant once,” one advertisement said, according to the Chicago Tribune, showing a man sitting while a clearly pregnant woman stood next to him, her belly pressing into his cheek. The headline read, “Ride with heart. Won’t you offer your seat?”
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