The Tyne and Wear Metro has launched its own Baby on Board badges to help pregnant women get a seat when they need it.
Nexus, which owns and manages Metro, is introducing the scheme to make travel on Metro that little bit easier for expectant mums.
The badges are designed to overcome the awkwardness often felt by pregnant women in having to ask someone to give up their seat on the Metro.
Each badge bears the slogan ‘Baby on Board’ and has the iconic Metro logo underneath in Metro’s traditional yellow and black colour-scheme.
And Metro chiefs are also introducing an ‘I Need a Seat’ badge for people less able to stand, including those with a disability, elderly people, injured people, or people with hidden disabilities and conditions.
The badges, which also come as key rings, are free and will be available from all Nexus Travel Shops from Wednesday 17 May. Midwives throughout Tyne and Wear will also hand out the Baby on Board badges to expectant mums.
Managing Director of Nexus, Tobyn Hughes, said: “I hope that passengers will embrace this innovative scheme and that mums-to-be who wear the badges find travelling on Metro even easier as a result.
“Commuters might not always notice straight away if someone nearby needs a seat, and we’ve all been in that situation where we’re too nervous to ask whether someone needs a seat, in fear that we might be wrong and cause offence.
“The Baby on Board badge is designed to help women at all stages of pregnancy feel more confident on the Metro, and to make journeys less awkward for pregnant women and fellow passengers alike.”
Sheila Ford, head of midwifery at City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The badges will be particularly useful for those in early stage pregnancy who might not be obviously pregnant and might be too embarrassed to ask a fellow passenger to give up their seat.
“It’s much easier to get a seat when you have a visible, obvious bump, but in the early stages of pregnancy you are likely to start feeling nauseous, tired and lightheaded – not a good combination when you’re in the middle of a busy commute – so being offered a seat makes travel safer as well as more comfortable.
“Having a Baby on Board badge will make it easier by letting other passengers know that you have a very good reason to need a seat.”
Information about the scheme will be displayed on carriage cards on board Metro trains.
The scheme was first introduced on London Underground after a report revealed that pregnant passengers were made to stand for an average of five stops before being offered a seat, and 35 per cent of mums-to-be were never offered a seat.
The Duchess of Cambridge was famously presented with a Baby on Board badge on a Royal visit to the London Tube in 2013 when she was expecting Prince George.
All Metro trains already have a number of designated priority seats intended for those passengers in greatest need of a seat, such as people with a disability, elderly passengers, expectant mothers or people less able to stand. A priority seat can be used by any passenger, but wherever possible they should be given up to someone with greater need.
Transport for London also launched a similar Please Offer Me a Seat scheme in autumn last year for disabled people and people with hidden conditions. In the successful trial, participants reported 72% of journeys as being easier as a result of the badge and on 86% of journeys participants reported feeling more confident when asking for a seat. Metro hope that their scheme will prove just as successful, if not more so, for passengers in Tyne and Wear.
For more information on the Baby on Board and I Need a Seat schemes, visit www.nexus.org.uk/metro or visit your local Nexus TravelShop.