Whether you and your furry best friend are brand new in town and want to see the sights, or you'd just like to venture out using public transportation, you'll be pleased to know that many bus lines, subways and trains in cities across the country and in Canada do accommodate pet travel.
Unfortunately, long-distance, pet-friendly public transit options are very limited at the moment. Amtrak, America's only cross-country train track, currently only allows service dogs. The same is true for Canada's cross-country train system, the VIA, and for the interstate Greyhound bus line.
There is some hope on the horizon for those who love the idea of riding the rails with their pets. A bill introduced in May would require Amtrak to propose a policy that designates at least one pet friendly car on each train and allows passengers to bring dogs or cats aboard as either cargo or carry-on, provided they are safely enclosed in carriers. This bill would make great strides toward making long-distance travel with pets easier and more affordable. To help get it passed, please contact your state's house representative.
For now, getting around town with your pet on public transportation will have to suffice. While regulations vary from city to city and region to region, in general, only small animals (usually dogs) are allowed on buses and trains, and typically must be transported in enclosed cases. You will likely be asked to pay full fare for your pet, and you'll have to ensure that your pet is well behaved and quiet so that he or she doesn't disturb other passengers.
Below is a short list of states and cities that offer pet-friendly transit. It's important that you contact your local transit authority to verify that its transportation is, in fact, pet friendly. If you don't see your city here, call anyway; many transit authorities don't openly advertise their transit pet policies.
•Boston: In Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority allows small dogs on its subway, bus and rail systems. On the subway, leashed dogs can ride during off-peak hours if they're kept under your control, don't bother other riders and don't take up a seat. During rush hours, small pets must be carried in a lap-sized enclosed container. Small dogs are also allowed on the T-Bus System and the T Commuter Rail System.
•New York: Getting around NYC with your little dog - or even your cat - is no problem in the Big Apple. The MTA notes that "small domesticated animals" are allowed on New York City transit subways and buses, the New York Long Island Railroad and the Metro-North Railroad. On subways, buses and the Long Island Railroad, pets must be secured in lap-sized carriers. On the Metro-North Railroad, both leashed dogs and pets in enclosed containers are allowed, but they must not occupy a seat or disturb other passengers.
•New Jersey: Small pets are allowed on New Jersey Transit trains and buses, provided they are carried in crates or carriers.
•Virginia: Richmond's GRTC Transit System allows very small dogs on buses, as long as they are contained in a pouch, purse or carrier.
•Georgia: In Atlanta, the MARTA, or Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, allows small dogs to ride its rail and bus system, provided they fit in a lap-sized, rigid container that is securely latched or locked.
•Florida: Central Florida's LYNX transportation system features 290 public buses that traverse three counties. Small dogs are allowed on the buses - provided they ride in a closed pet container that fits on your lap.
•Texas: According to a customer service representative from Dallas Area Rapid Transport, pets are allowed on buses, the rail system, and the commuter train, but they must travel in a pet taxi.
•Ohio: The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, or RTA, allows pets under 35 pounds to travel on trains and buses, provided they are enclosed in a container and under the immediate care of their owner at all times.
•Illinois: The Chicago Transit Authority allows small dogs on its buses and trains. However, they must be in carriers, they can't take up a seat, and they must be well-behaved best behavior.
•California: Riding San Francisco's historic rail cars, trolleys and cable cars with your pet is easy. Just note that you'll have to take in the sights on off-peak hours. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Fido is welcome to ride, provided he's leashed, muzzled, and stays under the seat or in your lap.
In San Diego, small dogs are allowed on the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System's buses and trolleys, but they must be in enclosed carriers that you're able to hold in your lap.
•Colorado: In Denver, small dogs can ride the RTD buses and light rail, if they're securely contained in hard shell carriers.
•Washington: In Seattle, large and small dogs are allowed on King County Metro Transit buses, at the sole discretion of the bus driver. If your animal is poorly behaved, smells less-than-pleasant, or annoys other riders, or if there are already dogs on the bus, the driver can refuse to allow you and your dog to board. If your dog does ride, he must be on a leash and under your control at all times.
•Toronto: In Toronto, Ontario, dogs of any size are allowed on the Toronto Transit Commission's buses and trains, providing they ride before or after rush hour, show no signs of aggression, and remained leashed or crated and under your control at all times.
If your dog enjoys adventures, likes people and tolerates noise and crowds well, public transportation can be an excellent way for you to see the sights, or simply get from point A to point B efficiently. For more information, contact your local transit authority. And don't forget to show your support for the Amtrak bill!
TripsWithPets.com is an online resource for pet travel. Named best pet travel site by Consumer Reports, TripsWithPets.com's mission is to offer resources that ensure pets are welcome, happy and safe while traveling. The website features a directory of pet-friendly hotels and accommodations across the U.S. and Canada, as well as airline and car rental pet policies; pet-friendly restaurants, beaches and events; a user-friendly route search option; pet travel tips; pet travel supplies; and other pet travel resources.
Author Kim Salerno is the president and founder of TripsWithPets.com. She founded the pet travel site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her mission is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy and safe in their travels.