CHICAGO — Metra's policy of allowing passengers to bring small pets aboard trains on weekends and holidays has proven so successful and problem-free that the commuter rail agency is expanding the practice to weekdays.
During a six-month test beginning May 1, Metra riders will be allowed to take pets in carriers aboard trains during off-peak hours, officials said Wednesday.
Allowing customers to carry pets on weekends has been popular and virtually complaint-free since it was initiated as a pilot program on one of Metra’s 11 lines in the summer of 2015, so much so that officials concluded it made sense that the practice be expanded to weekdays.
“A lot of people want to bring their pets downtown to walk along the lakefront or whatever” during the week, said Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno. “We have heard no complaints.”
The pets on trains policy was prompted by a passenger’s petition in 2013. Metra surveyed other transit agencies and found that many allowed small pets on trains and buses.
“We’re one of the last commuter railroads to have this policy,” Deputy Executive Director Peter Zwolfer told Metra’s board of directors on Wednesday. “Some are less restrictive (than Metra) and have had no problems.”
The pilot program was expanded to all Metra lines in October 2015 and Metra’s board approved a permanent policy in January 2016.
Pets will now be permitted on weekday trains arriving in Chicago before 6:31 a.m. and after 9:30 a.m. and trains departing Chicago before 3 p.m. and after 7 p.m.
Service animals are allowed on all Metra trains at all times.
In addition to the times when pets are allowed on board, Metra said pet owners must abide by the following rules:
•Only small pets in enclosed, protective carriers are allowed.
•Carriers will not be allowed to take up seats or seating areas, obstruct pathways on trains or in stations and must be small enough to be carried on by a single person. •Carriers must fit in a passenger’s lap or under the seat at all times.
•Metra reserves the right to remove passengers with pets that are noisy or disturb other customers.
•Owners are responsible for the behavior and cleanup of their pets.