I always see photos of dogs of all sizes riding on public transportation in cities like Boston and New York. The practice is particularly common in countries abroad, as big dogs lounge about the aisles of the London Underground. But what about Philly?
My relationship with SEPTA, Philadelphia’s own public transit, is less love/hate than it is deal-with/hate. I use the service frequently, but I loath to think of the inevitable day that I have to use SEPTA for my daily commute.
For now, I use the subway and the Regional Rail Line to get to my parents’ house in South Jersey. Mobility and transportation were huge issues when I began seriously considering bringing a dog into my life. I assured my parents that passengers could travel with their pets on SEPTA, but could I really?
Like any good Millennial, I took to the internet for an answer. Unfortunately, no amount of Google searching revealed anything even remotely helpful. Nearly all of the results were, and still are, questions from as early as 2009 asking if pets are allowed to use SEPTA’s services. The transportation authority’s own site continues to leave out any language regarding non-service animals.
I decided to take my chances this past weekend when I traveled to my parents’ on SEPTA. Packed into his inconspicuous pet carrier–it looks just like a duffel bag–Dipper and I took the subway to 30th St. Station and from there, onto the Regional Rail Line.
Four SEPTA conductors on Regional Rail looked directly at Dipper while his head was out of his carrier. None of them said anything. Another SEPTA worker sat next to us on the platform and proceeded to fill out paperwork with Dipper in plain view.
Despite Dipper hating the subway (me too, buddy), we were able to make the trip—and back—without a hitch. Granted, a few laid-back conductors don’t make the rules, so I decided to get a real answer.
Essentially, if a pet can’t make it onto an airplane, then it probably can’t use SEPTA. But as Dave noted, the rules for service animals are different. Buses and Regional Rail probably stick pretty closely to the closed-container rule for non-service pets, as conductors and drivers are there when passengers board. I’m sure it would be easy to slip a dog onto the Market-Frankford or Broadstreet Lines, but as nervous as that made Dipper, I don’t think dogs and the subway mix very well.
Rules are there for a reason, and I’m not so sure Philly’s public transportation is ready to go to the dogs.