Can I take my pets on public transportation?

Pets on Trains and Buses

With some exceptions, there are a few types of pets allowed on public transportation:

  • Small dogs are allowed more often than larger dogs.
  • Small dogs must be in a carrier that you hold on your lap for the entire ride.
  • Large dogs, if allowed, must be on a short leash at all times and cannot take up a seat.

You should check with your local authorities, but remember that Amtrak and Greyhound only allow service animals. Expect to pay the fare for your pet as you would for yourself, and expect to be allowed to board during certain hours (generally during non-rush hours). In addition, unruly, aggressive, noisy or foul-smelling animals can be refused -- even if they meet all the company's requirements.

California is one of the most public transportation pet-friendly places around. Sacramento and San Diego allow small dogs on buses and light rails, while San Francisco allows leashed and muzzled or contained dogs -- big and small -- on Municipal Railway's cable cars, historic streetcars and trolley buses as well as the Blue & Gold Fleet Ferry. Washington State and Massachusetts also allow large and small dogs to varying degrees. You can carry your small dog in a carrier on your lap in Atlanta, Ga., Dallas, Tex., Denver, Colo., Orlando, Fla., Chicago, Ill., New York City, Washington, D.C. and Vancouver, British Columbia [source: Pet Travel].

In addition, numerous smaller cities allow dogs on their trains, ferries and taxi services.

Even with the handy guide above, be sure to verify with the public transportation company before you head out to make sure the rules haven't changed. For more information, visit the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Americans with Disabilities Act. "ADA Business Brief: Service Animals." April 2002.(Accessed 1/26/09)
  • The Daily Mail. "Mystery cat takes regular bus to the shops." April 12, 2007. (Accessed 1/26/09)
  • Dog Friendly. "Dog-Friendly Public Transportation In the United States and Canada." (Accessed 1/26/09)
  • Pet Travel. "Pet Passport Information: Public Transportation." (Accessed 1/26/09)
  • Texas A&M University. "Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act (PETS Act)." (Accessed 1/26/09)