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Traveling by Boston public transit with a small dog

Photo by David Paul Ohmer

Photo by David Paul Ohmer

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) shuttles passengers around the Boston area by subway, bus, boat and commuter rail. The MBTA representative I spoke to said that “T” refers to all four transportation systems, which was news to me — I thought it was just the nickname of the subway. (Please note that poor Charlie was trapped on the “MTA,” which stands for Metropolitan Transit Authority and is what the MBTA used to be called.)

The MBTA’s pet policy is as follows:

Service animals are allowed on the T at all times.

During off-peak hours, non-service dogs are allowed at the discretion of T vehicle operators. Dogs must be properly leashed and are not allowed to annoy riders or take up a seat.  For safety and convenience during rush hours, small domestic animals must be carried in lap-sized containers.

I confirmed by phone that this policy applies to all four transportation systems run by the MBTA.

As always, I strongly recommend that you put your small dog entirely into her container and keep her there for the entire journey. The MBTA’s language doesn’t specifically say that your dog’s head can’t poke out (compare Washington D.C.’s public transit pet policy, requiring that your small dog be “in a secure container as long as there is no possibility that the pet can get free”), but putting her in a carrier with a zipper (and using it) may save you a tedious discussion with an uninformed T employee or fellow passenger. For the same reason, I also suggest that you print out the MBTA’s pet policy and tuck it into your carrier.

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


  • Todd Edelman, Dogs on Board project

    It seems that for many people the chance to take a dog on transit outside of rush hours without a carrying case etc. but just a leash – and a muzzle, if required – makes this mobility option more interesting. In warm weather it’s nice to go out wearing and schleping as little as possible, and then jumping on the bus, etc. even on a whim.

    Also, if people see friendly and sociable dogs in these relatively close quarters, they will tend to become more friendly and sociable to the dogs, and then this will enforce the dog’s good behavior, and so on.

    This at least is my experience from taking dogs on transit in Berlin and Prague for the last eight years.

    Of course if your smaller dog feels safer inside a case, then by all means one should be used.

  • farakanawal

    Todd Edelman! Your are absolutely right If peoples become friendly behave with dogs, so they also become more friendly with human beings. I also have a small cute dog. And dog is really attached to me. I always used to travel with my Tommy. Some times people behave so rude to him and i really against of that.

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