We know that our family would travel more if the entire family were allowed to travel by train. Right now, there is a pilot program under way in Illinois and a bill pending in the US House (The Pets on Trains Act of 2015, or H.R. 674) that would begin to allow some people with dogs and cats to ride on Amtrak.
Poppy waiting for a ride on the MBTA
Our Westie Poppy is welcome on the MBTA outside of rush hours. All our dogs have been passengers on ferries in Boston Harbor, Provincetown, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and in Portland Maine. We have never witnessed an incident with dogs on any of these trips. And, on ferries, there is no size limit and no carrier is required.
If you think opening the rails to people with companion animals is a good idea, please contact your representatives in Congress and the President to ask for their support and quick action on the Pets on Trains Act of 2015, or H.R. 674. You can find the addresses here.
Responsible Access Only, Please
Not all dogs are appropriate passengers on all mass transit systems. And, it is often the worst case scenarios and most irresponsible people who ruin something like this for the rest of us. We would love to see a registry for dogs and cats allowed to participate, with microchip scanning as a part of the ticketed access.
This way you would only have to sign the responsibility waiver once and any person with a dog who jeopardizes the future of the program could be barred. It would be much better to have barriers to behavior than to size.
Here's Poppy in the back of a Zipcar. We do all we can to be sure her presence is not a problem for the next member to reserve the car.
Learn More and Take Action
Please take the time to learn a bit more about the value of this program to: those of us with companion animals, the environment, and businesses, then contact those who can make it happen. (As of this writing, our Representative, Michael Capuano of Massachusetts, is a co-sponsor of the bill, so we'll be sending him our support and thanks.)
- The sponsor of the bill, U.S. Representative Jeff Denham has said, “Last year I worked in collaboration with Amtrak, the Illinois Department of Transportation, and a small working group to launch a six-month pilot program to test the idea of having pets on trains,” said Rep. Denham. “This legislation builds on the success of that pilot program and would help families nationwide save money and time in traveling with their pets while bringing in much-needed revenue for Amtrak.”
- The original Co-sponsor, U.S. Representative Steve Cohen said, “For many Americans, pets are simply part of the family—and all of us lucky enough to have pets are incredibly blessed by the companionship they provide.” “I am proud to work with my friend, Congressman Denham, on this important legislation to ensure families can bring their pets when traveling on Amtrak and that pets aren’t left behind to fend for themselves.”
- The working group for this bill includes: the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), the Federal Railroad Administration, and Amtrak.
- Allowing people to leave the car behind and travel by Mass transit helps with the congestion on the highways and is less polluting.
- Businesses (like hotels, shops, and restaurants) that cater to people who travel with companion animals could see an increase in business if this passes.
- Thanks to our friend Amy Burkert over on Go Pet Friendly for inspiring this post. There is more background on this at her link.
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Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photography: © 2013 Penny Cherubino for Poppy on the MBTA and istockphoto for the traveling dog image.