Currently in New York City, only small dogs which can fit into carriers are allowed on public transportation. For dog owners wishing to travel on the subways, this can be a major inconvenience, especially when: you want to take your pet to a park that is outside of walking distance; you want to take your pet to a friend's home that is outside of walking distance; you must take your pet to the vet; or you do not have a suitable dog run in your neighborhood. While taxis are an alternative, many taxi drivers refuse to pick up passengers with dogs, and it's also far more costly than a subway ride. Allowing pre-certified dogs to ride in designated dog-friendly cars would provide pet owners with a much-needed transit option, and a new revenue stream for the MTA.
Just as dogs must be licensed in the city in order for their owners to take advantage of the many dog runs and parks, a similar transit license could be created that permits dogs to ride on designated cars of the subway lines. Dogs would have to pass health tests (easily administered by qualified veterinarians), be certified as having received necessary vaccines, and as is the case with many private dog boarding and day care facilities, pass a basic temperament test. They would also have to be spayed or neutered. The cost of administering this program within the MTA would be offset by charging annual fees for pet transit licenses, and if administered well, could even provide a profitable revenue stream to the authority.
Further opportunities for new revenue would exist in the MTA’s Licensing Program, developing branded merchandise for the new dog-friendly subway.
Just as Amtrak has easily incorporated Quiet Cars onto its NE Corridor lines, the MTA could designate a car on each train as dog-friendly. This means that dogs would be allowed in clearly marked cars only, and would not be permitted in other cars. For passengers with allergies, or who simply did not want to ride in these cars, it would be easy enough to avoid them, especially as the practice becomes socialized throughout the community. Owners would be fined for any dog which soils a car – and obviously, in the event of accidents, owners would be required to clean up after their dogs. Providing dispensers with clean-up wipes and poop bags would help to encourage this. These could be financed by including advertising on the bags and dispensers.
It’s conceivable that rider demand might make dog-designated cars impractical during peak rush-hour times. If so, then allowing dogs on the subway during these times could be suspended.
New York City should join the ranks of great cities like Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver and Toronto, and open its subways to responsible pet owners and their dogs!