NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new campaign on New York City’s buses and subways is urging people to give up their seats to people in need.

Specifically pregnant women — even if it isn’t obvious that they’re pregnant.

Christy Botello is 6 months pregnant. It’s easy to see that if you’re looking, but she said people aren’t usually looking – at least not at her when they’re on the train.

They’re busy with smartphones, tablets, books, or newspapers, and she can’t always get a seat because she finds it hard to ask.

“Unless you’re really feeling terrible, you don’t feel comfortable asking someone,” she told CBS2’s Elise Finch.

Dewanna James is 7 months pregnant, she said she’s hardly ever offered a seat on the subway.

“It’s usually men more than women, and very rarely. If it’s a crowded train then not at all,” she said.

The MTA’s new awareness campaign could put an end to that.

It’s a program where pregnant women can go online and order a button that says ‘baby on board’ then wear it when they’re traveling by bus or train in hopes that someone will offer them a seat without having to ask.

“Sometimes you feel sick, sometimes the train is really crowded and hot and it messes with your temperature and everything, so it makes a big difference,” James said.

Queens mother Christine Serdjenian Yearwood is thrilled about the MTA’s new effort because she pitched to idea to them late last year.

“People who want to give up a seat can, they can identify who to give it to, and that people who want to ask for a seat are empowered to do so. They’re supported by the MTA, and that it doesn’t have to be a confrontation,” she explained.

She’s the founder and CEO of Upstand, an organization that advocates for pregnant women and their families as they navigate public spaces and transportation.

Olivia Carter, a Londoner who lives on the Upper West Side, thinks it’s a great idea.

“What they are so great for is these first few months when no one can see you’re pregnant, but you feel really grim and you want to sit down and so that’s when they have them, so… they’re great! We love them!” she told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

The MTA’s program will also let people choose a button that simply reads, ‘please offer me a seat.’ It’s designed for pregnant women as well as seniors and anyone with a medical issue, even if it isn’t obvious.

“I wish we didn’t need that. I wish that people could just use their own politeness and get up for people who are pregnant or sick,” Insung Mim said.

The program is part of the MTA’s larger campaign that says ‘courtesy counts.’

Right now this is a pilot program that launched on Mother’s Day and will run through Labor Day.


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