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MN Transit Experts Exploring Family-Friendly Changes

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Monday, September 12, 2016   

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- New research shows families who rely on trains and buses in the Twin Cities face challenges traveling with young children and accessing child care facilities, but some family-friendly changes could be coming to one of Minnesota's largest public transit networks.

The "Transit-Accessible Child Care" study found that licensed child-care providers are fairly well distributed along transit routes. But parents tell researchers their public transit travel times are too long and that it's difficult to get strollers on buses.

Allison Bell, everyday equity project manager with Metro Transit, said after seeing the research, they're hoping to address some of those issues.

"We would like to evaluate our stroller policy and see if there are ways we can adjust it to make it more friendly for families with small children,” Bell said.

She said they'll be exploring changes to the policy within the next six months.

The report also suggested that educating drivers on the needs of travelers with young children could help ease challenges for all riders.

Wilder Research scientist Jennifer Valorose, who prepared the report, said that making simple rule changes in the short term could benefit low-income families who can't afford or don't want to own a car.

"The more we can make that transit accessible and easy, the better it is for them to get high-quality care for the kids, and also access jobs that they need to support their families,” Valorose said.

She pointed to other short-term solutions, including keeping doors open longer to give parents and children time to get on the bus or light-rail cars.

Bell said streamlining a family's access to child care is a small way to help set up children for future success in life.

"We're really taking equity seriously here, and we believe that a person's race, income or zip code shouldn't determine the opportunities they have in life,” Bell said. "And so this is one way that we are taking on that issue."



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