This topic came up yesterday in a tweet from a new follower who wondered if I knew of a way for her car-less aunt to get from her new home in D.C. to NYC, with a dog. I’ve written about this before, but the details are buried in several posts about public transit pet policies. So here’s what I’ve learned, in an easy-to-reach location.
You can almost travel between New York and Washington D.C. via pet-friendly public transit systems, except for a 35-mile gap between Perryville, MD and Newark, DE. Here’s how: Starting in New York City, you’d take NJ Transit into the Philadelphia area. You’d change systems, and take a SEPTA train (the R2 regional rail line) to…not quite all the way to…the MTA Maryland system, which would bring you (via the Penn Line MARC train) in to Washington’s Union Station and into the arms of D.C.’s WMATA system. It would take a long time. Your dog would have to be small, and in a carrier. But it would work, except for that pesky gap between the MTA Maryland system and the SEPTA system.
Please note that the gap is currently bridged by a DART bus (#65), which will take you from Newark, DE to Elkton, MD, where you can catch “The Bus — Perryville Connection” to the Perryville, MD MARC station. However, DART does not allow pet dogs on board — only service dogs.
Until DART sees the light, or the gap between Newark and Perryville is otherwise bridged by a pet-friendly transit system, your best alternatives are to send your dog to New York or D.C. via Pet Airways (currently about $99 for a one-way trip between NYC and D.C.) and follow her by train or bus or other ground transportation; or get on Craigslist and catch a ride with a dog lover heading your direction; or rent a car.
This would all be so much easier if Amtrak once again welcomed pet dogs on board. As I said in a comment on a friend’s blog post calling for Amtrak to reconsider its 1976 policy change, “instead of carrying pets in sleeping compartments (which would require extensive clean-up) or baggage cars (which would require heating/cooling baggage cars), why not allow only small pets in carriers in coach cars, as they do on planes? I think even long-distance train travelers would be thrilled, even though they’d have to doze upright in coach seats, to be allowed to bring their small dogs on board with them. The issue, then, would be to provide enough time at stops, every so often, for pet owners to take their dogs out for a quick break — and those designated stations would need to have a patch of grass or gravel and be equipped with one of those poles bearing poop bags and a small trash can that you see at airport pet relief areas.”