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Traveling by Los Angeles area public transit with a small dog

Photo by Ron Reiring

Photo by Ron Reiring

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA, MTA or “Metro”) operates buses, bus rapid transit, light rail and subway lines in L.A. County.

The bus services include Metro Local, Metro Rapid and Metro Express. LACMTA also operates the Orange Line, a bus rapid transit system connecting Warner Center and the North Hollywood Metro Red Line subway station in the San Fernando Valley. LACMTA also runs three light rail lines (Gold, Blue and Green) and two subway lines (Red and Purple). More light rail lines are under construction.

I spoke with a LACMTA customer service representative and learned that Metro allows pets on all of its bus and rail lines if they are in a carrier. There is no fee for your pet, but the carrier must be hard-sided. That’s the first time I’ve heard that requirement, and if you own a soft-sided carrier I’d give it a try before buying a new one just for Metro trips — I also suggest that your existing carrier is more likely to be overlooked if you’re careful to put your pet entirely into it before you get on board, and you keep her entirely enclosed while she’s traveling.

Metrolink

Metrolink operates a commuter rail service serving Los Angeles County and several neighboring counties (San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Orange, Los Angeles and North San Diego to Oceanside). Metrolink’s pet policy, according to the customer service representative I spoke with, is that pets fully enclosed in carriers are allowed. The carrier must fit in your lap or under your legs. There is no fee for your pet.

Other regional public transit providers

There are lots of other public transit providers in the area. Here are the better-known ones, with information about their pet policies (please note that where I have not given you a link, I got the pet policy information in a phone conversation):

Alhambra Community Transit (ACT) operates buses in an around Alhambra, CA. Only service animals are allowed on board.

Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) operates buses serving Palmdale, Lancaster and northern L.A. County. Its weekday commuter lines link Antelope Valley with Los Angeles. Pets (other than service animals) are not allowed on board.

Barstow Area Transit (BAT) operates buses in the city of Barstow and in surrounding San Bernardino County communities. Its pet policy states: “Only medical service animals and small pets in secure and humane carrying containers are permitted.”

Beach Cities Transit operates buses “connecting the Beach Cities – Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and El Segundo. Additionally, the service provides east/west connectivity to the City of Torrance.” Only service animals are allowed on board.

Big Blue Bus provides “bus service to Santa Monica and the west side of Los Angeles.” BBB’s pet policy is as follows: “All animals, except guide or service animals, must be in a pet carrier.”

Culver CityBus operates buses serving “the Westside communities of Venice, Westchester, Westwood, West Los Angeles, Palms, Marina del Rey, Rancho Park, Mar Vista, Century City, and Culver City.” Its pet policy is brief: “Only service animals are allowed on the bus.” [6/12/11 Happy, happy news from reader Bonnie, who wrote to tell me that the Culver CityBus pet policy now says “Only service animals are allowed on the bus. All other pets must be secured in a pet carrier to board.” Thanks, Bonnie!]

DowneyLINK operates buses in and around the city of Downey, CA. Only service animals are allowed on board.

El Monte Transit operates buses within the city of El Monte, CA and provides connections to Metrolink (at the El Monte station). Only service animals are allowed on board.

El Sol (or the East Los Angeles Shuttle) operates three bus lines in unincorporated East Los Angeles. Only service animals are allowed on board.

FlyAway Bus provides bus service to LAX from the Van Nuys Airport, Union Station, and Westwood. Small dogs in carriers are allowed; you may have to pay full fare for your dog (you certainly will, if her carrier occupies a seat).

Foothill Transit operates bus lines serving “the eastern San Gabriel Valley, California; including express buses to Los Angeles and Pasadena.” Foothill only allows service animals on its buses.

Glendale Beeline operates buses within the city of Glendale, CA and provides connections to Metrolink. Small pets fully enclosed in carriers are allowed.

Gold Coast Transit (formerly called South Coast Area Transit) operates buses in western Ventura County. Small pets in carriers are allowed on board.

Long Beach Transit operates a bus service in Long Beach, Lakewood and Signal Hill, and makes connections with Metro’s light rail service. LBT also runs the AquaLink, a water taxi “to the most popular attractions in Long Beach Harbor and on down to Alamitos Bay Landing,” and the AquaBus, a water taxi “to the most popular attractions on the Long Beach Harbor waterfront.” The customer service representative I spoke with said that small pets in carriers are welcome, at no charge.

Montebello Bus Lines operates express and local bus lines serving East Los Angeles, Commerce and Montebello. MBL’s pet policy states: “No animals or pets allowed on the bus. Service animals are excluded.”

Norwalk Transit operates buses in Norwalk, CA and nearby areas of southeast Los Angeles County. Pets in carriers small enough to rest on your lap are allowed on board.

OmniTrans (or “Omni”) operates buses within San Bernardino County and in parts of neighboring Riverside and Los Angeles Counties. Omni’s pet policy states: “Pets may only ride the bus if they are in a secure pet carrier that fits on your lap.”

Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) operates bus routes within Orange County and to neighboring Los Angeles county communities, as well as express buses to Los Angeles and major Riverside County and San Bernardino County cities. Pets in carriers small enough to rest on your lap are allowed.

Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency (PVVTA) operates bus routes in the Palo Verde Valley. Pets in carriers small enough to rest on your lap are allowed.

Pasadena Area Rapid Transit System (ARTS) operates buses in and around Pasadena, CA. Only service animals are allowed on board.

Pass Transit operates buses in and around Beaumont, CA. Its pet policy is as follows: “The only animals allowed on the bus are service animals and small animals in secure pet carriers.”

Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) operates buses and express commuter buses (“CommuterLink”) in western Riverside County, and a downtown Riverside “trolley” service. Its pet policy is the most detailed I’ve yet encountered:

Small pets and non-service or guide animals are allowed only if owners comply with the following rules:

1. Small animals such as birds and cats must be secured in a commercially made pet carrier or cage that can be safely placed on the passenger’s lap and does not require a separate seat.
2. Glass, breakable or homemade carriers are not permitted.
3. The animal must be completely enclosed within the pet carrier or cage at all times.
4. The pet carrier or cage must completely prevent the animal from escaping or physically contacting another passenger or of escape.
5. The pet carrier or cage must be constructed so that no bedding material or pet waste can exit.

The animal must not interfere with, disrupt or disturb any service or guide animals on the vehicle.

[2/24/12 Checking back on the site, this language has disappeared. However, the Dial-A-Ride part of the site states that “Small pets are allowed if they are secured in a pet carrier that can be safely placed on a customer’s lap.”]

Santa Clarita Transit provides bus service in and around Santa Clarita, express bus service between Santa Clarita and downtown Los Angeles, and connections to Metrolink. Only service animals are allowed on Santa Clarita Transit buses.

Simi Valley Transit (SVT) provides bus service throughout Simi Valley. Its pet policy states: “Only certified service animals, or animals confined in an approved animal carrier, are allowed on SVT vehicles.”

SunLine Transit Agency operates buses serving “Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, Coachella, Riverside County.” Its pet policy is as follows: “Keep small pets (except service animals) secured in carry-on cages designed for public transportation.”

Thousand Oaks Transit (TOT) “operates four routes serving Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Westlake.” When I first wrote this post, its pet policy stated that “Small pets in covered, well-secured cages are allowed if held on the passenger’s lap.” That language is no longer on its site, as of 2/24/12, but the customer service rep I spoke to told me that small pets in carriers are still allowed on board.

Torrance Transit offers eight bus routes “serving Los Angeles to Long Beach.” Small pets in carriers are allowed on board.

Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA) “provides local bus service for the communities of Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville, and San Bernardino County.” Pets in carriers small enough to fit on your lap or under the seat are allowed.

Whittier Transit operates buses in Whittier, CA and provides connections to Metro, Foothill Transit, Montebello Bus Lines and Norwalk Transit. Only service animals are allowed on Whittier Transit buses.

For other posts about traveling with dogs on public transit, take a look at Dog Jaunt’s handy guide!

6 comments

  • Steve Tanner

    Thanks for sharing the policies–I was denied boarding this morning with my cat in a regulation hard plastic carrier, after dozens of trips to the vet with no problem. The operator asked if I had ID for my cat, and if it was a service animal (I’m just now appreciating the humor of this.) A Metro customer service person checked with another driver for me and confirmed that the first driver was wrong. Two subsequent drivers let us on with no trouble. I’d like to stay positive and assume my first operator was simply mistaken. The 10-minute trip ended up costing $14 for a taxi. I plan to contact MTA Passenger Relations Monday, but don’t anticipate much help, since they require that you write down the bus number and operator badge number.

  • Hello, Steve — How vexing! I agree that you’re not likely to get more than an apology, but you might seize the chance to suggest that they put their pet policy in writing on their web site. That way, future users can print out the relevant page and carry it with them, to show to operators who don’t know the rules.

  • Shirley

    Thank you so much for the information. We have a small cat and taking him to our vet with a taxi will cost at least $100.00 round trip. I was refused once when I was taking DASH in Down Town Los Angeles, the first driver refused and the second driver let us in. We asked if the policy involved no animals allowed other than service animals even though they are in a hard case. The bus driver mentioned that it depends on the driver and the driver gets to decide rather they will let the animal in or not. If you happen to know the Gardena Busline pet policy, please let me know. I’ve been in contact with them but they have not responded to my email or when I call, I eventually get transferred around and they usually hang up on me. I will need to take me cat to vet soon but the place is located in Gardena so it will be nice to know.

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