Recently, there’s been a resurgence of stories in the media about pregnant women and their negative experiences on London’s public transport. Here’s how you can best prepare yourself in the hope that your time spent commuting (or otherwise) is an easy ride
Earlier this month, a story in the Evening Standard revealed how a woman, who was 8-months pregnant, had to stand for two hours on a train after her fellow passengers declined to offer her a seat. The 31-year old, who commuted into London Bridge from Crawley, had hoped to be offered one, but to no avail.
“People don’t like to make eye contact,” the woman, only identified as Lauren, said. “Everyone just looks down. It’s not a long journey but when you’re 31 weeks pregnant it’s knackering. I asked the carriage: ‘Would anybody be able to give me their seat?’ But the response was just silence.”
Unfortunately, there’s no way to entirely guarantee that a pregnant woman receives a seat on her daily commute. She has every right to ask for a seat, but, quite frankly, she shouldn’t have to. Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to increase you chances, other than praying for a carriage of kind, thoughtful passengers, of bagging a much-needed seat.
TfL Baby on Board badge
If you use London’s public transport, you’ll almost certainly have seen a few of these floating around. Pinned to coat lapels, emblazoned with ‘Baby on Board!’, these are particularly useful in the chillier months or earlier stages of pregnancy when a bump might not be visible. You can pick these up form most manned stations, or by filling in a form online. Watch out; the envelope your badge will arrive in is branded, so perhaps tell your fellow house dwellers you’re expecting before ordering it.
Cards for Priority Seats
Trains nearly always have marked priority seats (typically nearer the door and with more leg room) specifically meant for those less able to stand. Able passengers occupying these areas should automatically offer them up, but if they are more engrossed in their book / mobile / tablet than their surroundings, a card may help relieve some of the awkwardness in asking for their seat. Many train operators operate a priority seat card scheme.
Season Ticket Upgrade
Abellio Greater Anglia, South West trains, First Great Western and East Midlands trains all offer a season ticket upgrade for pregnant women. Details vary, but most involve sending off your annual pass with a letter from your workplace or GP confirming when you are due to take maternity leave. These passes allow you to sit in First Class seats when there are none available in standard.