Ticket to ride: Greens call for pets on public transport

The ACT Greens today reaffirmed calls for a trial to allow pets to travel on ACTION buses, in step with community views and consistent with other transport regulations.

“Our public transport system should serve the needs of the public. As most Canberrans do own a pet of some kind, it must be as convenient and accessible as possible to travel with them,” Greens spokesperson for Active Transport Caroline Le Couteur said today.

“Currently Canberrans cannot take animals onto a bus without permission, with exemptions in place for assistance animals or guide dogs. However, Canberrans can travel with their pets on light rail. The Government should look to close this obvious gap.

“From an environmental perspective, it’s also important that we do all we can to encourage more Canberrans to shift away from car use.”

As part of the trial, domestic animals would be allowed as long as they were secured in an appropriate carrier and there was no impact on the safety and comfort of other passengers or the driver.

In late 2014 the Transport and City Services Directorate conducted public consultation on a proposed code allowing pets to travel on public transport. The recommendations of the consultation showed strong community support for the proposed changes.

As ACT Greens spokesperson for Seniors, Ms Le Couteur also noted the role that pets play for older Canberrans. “Older members of the community often rely on public transport, and pets can be helpful for a person’s mental and physical health, particularly as we get older. We need to assist in making it as practical as possible if a person needs to take their dog to the vet, or would like to take them to the local dog park in a nearby suburb,” Ms Le Couteur added.

Greens Minister for Road Safety Shane Rattenbury recently introduced legislation that would allow pets to travel on light rail.

“With light rail stage one well underway, there is an opportunity here to make this consistent across all public transport by doing the same with ACTION buses.”

A recently published study estimates that dog owners make about 2.4 million dog-related trips a week in Sydney, and that pet owners wanted to be able to travel on public transport with their pets.

In March, Wellington Council (NZ) decided that any animal that could be considered a domestic pet would be allowed on off-peak services for free – provided they were in a suitable carrier that could fit in the luggage areas or on the owner's lap.