This post was inspired by the results of a recent Walk Score survey, published in The Atlantic, listing the 25 “best cities for public transit” in the U.S. At the top of the list is New York, and Raleigh, NC is at the bottom. I’ve been researching the pet policies of major public transit systems since Dog Jaunt’s earliest days, and I’ve been happily surprised by the results. Most public transit systems do allow pets on board, though it has to be added that small pets in containers are the rule — there are some U.S. cities (like Seattle) that allow large, leashed dogs on board, but they are the exception.
Of the top 15 cities listed in the article, 12 are already covered in Dog Jaunt’s handy guide to public transit pet policies. The three that are missing are Miami, Milwaukee and Cleveland, so I did some research, and here’s what I’ve learned:
Miami and environs is served by Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) and its Metrobus, Metrorail (rapid transit), Metromover (downtown), and STS (flexible paratransit) systems. While there is an “Animal” page for each system, they’re not currently working. The customer service rep I spoke to told me that small pets, fully enclosed in a carrier, are allowed on all forms of public transit. [8/1/16 More details about Miami-area public transit here.]
The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) operates a fleet of buses in Milwaukee and Milwaukee County. Small pets in carriers are allowed on board: “Non-service animals or comfort animals are allowed on the bus if it is in an enclosed carrier that fits on the passengers lap.” [8/1/16 Please note that this is a change, since this post was first written.]
The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA, but more commonly RTA) operates trains and buses in Cleveland and surrounding communities. The customer service rep I spoke to told me that pets 35 lbs. or under may travel on all forms of RTA transit as long as they are fully contained in a carrier and are in their owner’s company at all times. There is no fee for your pet.
Milwaukee is one of the rare larger U.S. cities — Austin is another — that does not allow pets to travel on public transit. For me, that would instantly drop it down, or even off, a list of “best cities for public transit.” Pet owners who cannot afford a car, or who prefer to reduce congestion and pollution by choosing not to own a car, should have the option of taking at least their small pets to the vet, work, or day care by public transit.