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America’s “best cities for public transit:” Pet policies for Miami, Milwaukee and Cleveland

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.

The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) operates a fleet of buses in Milwaukee and Milwaukee County. Pets are not allowed on board: “Properly controlled service animals accompanying persons with disabilities are the only animals permitted on the bus.”

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.

6 comments

  • Susan

    Hi Mary Alice, I fully agree – not allowing pets on public transit should certainly be taken into consideration in a city’s overall public transportation score, and it’s definitely not an environmentally friendly policy. Nor can I imagine what the problem could be in taking pets along in a carrier. I guess I’m lucky here in Germany – pets are allowed on all forms of public transportation with no carrier necessary (except on the long-distance trains).

  • Pamela

    I live in uber-progressive Ithaca, NY. Six months ago I decided to go car-free and the only major problems we’ve had with the change involve having a dog.

    Mass transit does not allow dogs. Car Share does not allow dogs. Local taxi cabs do not allow dogs. If Honey were ever injured and unable to walk to our vet, I’m not sure what I would do.

    We figured that going car-free would have us enjoying entertainment options closer to home. But the outdoor pedestrian mall does not allow dogs. And the city park on the waterfront does not allow dogs.

    Supposedly Ithaca is all about helping people make “green” choices. But if you have a dog, you’re just out of luck.

  • Hi, Pamela — Thank you for your comment. How vexing! You must have a larger dog, right? Ithaca Carshare does allow pets in carriers (http://www.ithacacarshare.org/csh_orient_ba4.html ) — does your pup fit in a crate? If so, you could head for the minivans or the Scion (but of course that depends on your being somewhere near where the larger vehicles are located). Drat! I don’t have a good suggestion for you, but I understand your unhappiness, for sure.

  • Pamela

    Yes, Mary-Alice, my problem is having a Golden Retriever. I’ve been able to use CarShare to transport foster puppies to and from the SPCA because they fit in small carriers. But the options aren’t great for a large dog.

    I’m working on crafting an appeal to CarShare that they make one car in the fleet dog friendly and hold users to the same standard of cleanliness that everyone else has to follow. I’ve rented houses and cars for years without problems. I’ll see how it goes.

  • Celia

    Wow, even in struggling-to-become progressive Pittsburgh contained pets are allowed on all public transportation. I would expect that every other city was more tolerant of pets. We’re just getting off-leash dog parks!

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