Pets on public transport: making it possible

Imagine you are living alone with a beloved dog or cat. They are your family, your companion, your best friend. You want to go out but you don’t want to leave them behind.

Imagine that you don’t have a car or can’t afford a car. You can’t walk terribly far but you can manage to catch a bus.  And there is a bus or a train running past the door.

You want to take your dog with you to visit other dog-owning friends, to sit at a dog-friendly café or pub, go to a dog park, and meet other dog owners, like you, and to get to the vet for regular check-ups and in an emergency.

Pets are allowed on public transport in the UK and extensively across Europe, in North America, and recently too in Wellington, New Zealand!

In most places, this has been happening for years.

Requirements on pet owners differ by city and by form of transport (this can be trains, trams, ferries, buses etc.) but the intention is the same - pet owners can travel with their pets on affordable and accessible public transport systems.

A recent study by Dr Jennifer Kent and Professor Corrine Mulley (University of Sydney) showed the significant economic and public transport benefits of pet-friendly public transport.

For example: in a sample of 1,257 dog owners who made 9635 dog-related trips per week, 4,832 of these trips started in a private car – this means households are making 3.8 dog-related trips by car per week. With 1.6 million households in Sydney and 39% of these households own one or more dogs they estimated that some 2.4 million dog-related private car trips could be occurring in Sydney each week!

Sydney and Victoria allow pets to travel on some forms of public transport under strict conditions.

However, many places in Australia do not yet have pet-friendly public transport. This is a particular issue for older Australians who want to use public transport and, in some cases, have no other affordable option.

If you have a pet and you can’t now take your pet on public transport, please contact your transport authority and tell them how important your pet is to you and ask ‘Why can’t I use public transport with my pet?’

Make sure to tell them what it would mean to you to be able to take your pet on public transport.  If you get an answer please post it on this blog.

We are especially keen to see this made possible for older and isolated pet owners.

Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. Let’s make Australia truly a pet-friendly country, in the interests of millions of pet owners and their pets.

If you are in the ACT, please contact Meegan Fitzharris MLA, Minister for Transport, GPO Box 1020, CANBERRA, ACT 2601 or email

This article was written by Pets and Positive Ageing Inc and published with their permission.


Jan Phillips, President - 0412 411 424

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