NYC campaign urges subway riders to give up seats for pregnant, disabled and elderly

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Monday, May 15, 2017
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New York City subway campaign urges riders to give up seats for pregnant, disabled and elderly. Alicia Vitarelli reports during Action News at 4:30 p.m. on May 15, 2017.

NEW YORK (WPVI) -- The MTA in New York City has launched a new campaign to encourage subway and bus riders to offer their seats to pregnant, elderly and disabled people.

The agency is hoping its courtesy buttons will make it easier for people to identify who needs a seat.

One says "Baby on Board," while another reads "Please Offer Me a Seat," which can also be worn by customers who have disabilities and seniors who choose to wear them.

The pilot program began on Mother's Day and runs through Labor Day.

The MTA already provides disabled customers "priority seating" on buses and trains, with riders required to relinquish seats in those areas under federal regulations and MTA rules of conduct.

"Pregnant riders, seniors and those with disabilities often need seats more than others but their condition may not always be visible," said MTA Interim Executive Director Ronnie Hakim. "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 awareness button pilot is considered to be the first of its kind in the United States and marks the first time the MTA is using buttons as part of a courtesy campaign.

Transport for London has had a similar program for the London Tube since 2005, with approximately 130,000 of the badges distributed every year, the MTA said.

The free buttons can be requested on the MTA's web site.