Getting Around Town with your Four-Legged Friend: A Guide to Pet Friendly Public Transportation

If pet travel by car with your furry best friend isn’t a possibility, or if you’d just like to see the city sights together in a brand new way, there are many bus lines, subways and trains in cities across the country and in Canada that accommodate pets.

Unfortunately, if you’re looking to travel long distances, your options at this time are very limited. Amtrak, America’s only cross-country train track, currently only allows service dogs.  The same is true for Canada’s cross-country train system, the VIA, and for the interstate Greyhound bus line.

There is a glimmer of hope, however; a bill introduced in May would require Amtrak to propose a policy that designates at least one pet friendly car on each train, and allows passengers to bring their dog or cat aboard as either cargo or carry-on, provided they are enclosed in kennels. This is a fantastic bill that would make traveling long distances with pets easier and more affordable. To read this bill in its entirety, click here . To help get it passed, please contact your state’s house representative, or click here to pledge your support.

For now, using local public transportation with your pooch is your best bet. Rules vary from region to region, but generally speaking, only small animals (usually dogs) are allowed on buses and trains. Be prepared to pay full fare for your pet, and keep in mind that your dog should be well-behaved and quiet so that they don’t disturb other passengers.

We’ve compiled a short list of states and cities with pet friendly transit. Always contact your local transit authority to verify that their transportation is pet friendly. If you don’t see your city here, call anyway; many transit agencies don’t advertise their transit pet policies openly.

Northeastern Region

  • Boston:  In Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority  allows small dogs on the T Subway System, T Bus System and the T Commuter Rail system. During rush hour, small domesticated pets must be transported by subway in a container that fits into a lap, and they must be kept away from exits. During off-peak hours, leashed dogs can ride, provided they are under your control, don’t cause annoyance to your fellow travelers, and don’t take up a seat. Small dogs are also allowed on the T-Bus System and the T Commuter Rail System.
  • New York:  As far as transit is concerned, you won’t have a problem getting around NYC with your little dog, or even your cat. According to the MTA, “small domesticated animals” are allowed on New York City transit subways and buses, the New York Long Island Railroad, and the Metro-North Railroad. On subways, buses and the Long Island Railroad, pets must be secured in carriers that fin in your lap. On the Metro-North Railroad, animals must be either be in carriers or controlled by leashes, and they must not occupy a seat or disturb other passengers.
  • New Jersey:  Small pets are allowed on New Jersey Transit trains and buses, provided they are carried in crates or carriers.

Southern Region

  • Virginia:  A representative of Richmond’s GRTC Transit System  informed us that very small dogs are allowed on buses, as long as they are contained in a pouch, purse or carrier.   
  • Georgia:  In Atlanta, the MARTA, or Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, allows small dogs to ride its rail and bus system, provided they fit in a lap-sized, latched or locked rigid carrier.
  • FloridaCentral Florida’s LYNX transportation system crosses three counties, including Orange County, in which Orlando is located. The system features 290 public buses -- on which small dogs are allowed -- provided they ride in a closed pet container that fits on your lap.
  • Texas:  A customer service representative from the Dallas Area Rapid Transport advised us that pets are allowed on buses, the rail system, and the commuter train, but they must travel in a pet taxi.

Midwestern Region

  • Ohio:  The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, or RTA, allows pets under 35 pounds to travel on trains and buses, provided they are enclosed in a container and the owner stays with them at all times.
  • Illinois:  The Chicago Transit Authority allows small dogs on its buses and trains. However, they must be in carriers, they can’t take up a seat, and they must be on their best behavior.

Western Region

  • CaliforniaSan Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency allows dogs of all sizes on its historic rail cars, trolleys and cable cars – just not during peak hours. From 9 AM to 3 PM, Fido is welcome to ride, provided he’s leashed, muzzled, and stays under the seat or in your lap.
    In San Diego, small dogs are allowed on the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System’s buses and trolleys, but they must be in enclosed carriers that you’re able to hold in your lap.
  • Colorado:  In the city of Denver, small dogs can ride the Regional Transportation District (RTD) buses and light rail, provided they are contained in rigid carriers.
  • Washington:  In Seattle, dogs of any size are allowed on the King County Metro Transit buses, at the sole discretion of the bus driver. If your animal is unruly, has an offensive odor, or disturbs other riders, or there are already dogs on the bus, the driver can refuse to allow your dog to board. Your dog must be on a leash and under your control at all times.


  • Toronto:  In Toronto, Ontario, dogs of any size are allowed on the Toronto Transit Commission’s buses and trains, providing they ride during off-peak hours, show no signs of aggression, and remained leashed or crated and under your control at all times.

If your dog is comfortable with crowds and noise, likes being in his crate and loves new adventures, public transportation can be an excellent way for you to see the sights, or simply get where you need to go. For more information, contact your local transit authority. And don’t forget to show your support for the Amtrak bill!