When I first learned you could take your dog on the MBTA in Boston I was skeptical. I assumed you could, but would be treated like social pariah and the whole situation would be incredibly uncomfortable. Granted I love living in Boston and I think nothing of walking from one end of town to the other; especially when walking with my dog. However on some days, I either have places to be on time or quite frankly don’t feel like walking. Boston’s subway or trolly, known as the “T”, is a great way to cut across town. Whenever Boston is listed as one of America’s most pet friendly cities, the pet friendly MBTA is reason for Boston making the list each year. Still, when you mention to others you can take your dog on the MBTA, they are surprised. So here is a little write up of our experiences….
Keep in mind, Boston’s entire MBTA system is open to well behaved dog’s unless it is rush hour (7 a.m.-9 a.m. and 4 p.m.-7 p.m.) . The ultimate decision is left up to the operators, if you are getting on a bus, the driver can turn you away, if they feel your dog will be a problem. So, your dog needs to be well behaved. You can imagine, other riders would not be pleased to spend any time with an out of control dog in a confined space; shocking as it may seem.
When we have brought our dog along on the “T” the MBTA staff as well as other passengers have been outstanding. Usually someone comes over to say hello and give our pooch a good scratch. An experience far from what I had expected beforehand. These days I think nothing of grabbing the “T” with our dog. Here is a little of what I have learned along the way.
When taking the “T”
Keep in mind, the MBTA can be very busy and loud, especially when underground in the stations. Make sure you have a good collar on your dog, one that will not slip off. The last thing you would ever want is for your dog to get spooked, slip out of their collar and run off willy nilly into a tunnel full of trains. Especially during your dog’s first few experiences, a reassuring hand will help your dog cope with all the new noises and movement.
Use the stairs or elevators; do not let your dog stand on the escalator. Unless you can easily carry your dog, avoid the escalator unless you are looking to save on getting your dogs nails clipped. Actually, this is very serious; every couple of months an unlucky dog or two find their way to the animal hospital after getting their paws caught in the escalator. Sometimes this results in an amputation of a paw. Use the stairs or the elevator if you are not going to carry your dog. I would like to thank the MSPCA-Angell for making me aware of this issue.
Keep a short leash and be aware of how other people are reacting to the presence of your dog. Most people are thrilled to see a dog, but there will always be others who are terrified of even the cutest puppy. I would argue the confined space and noise can make the presence of a dog for some a little tougher to deal with.
Overall, riding the “T” with your dog is easy and kind of fun. Our dog loves it, but then again he knows where to go to get his belly scratched by strangers.
Water Shuttle and Water Taxi
The MBTA operates a water shuttle where dogs are certainly welcome. Our dog rides the shuttle from the Charlestown Navy Yard to Long Warf in the Financial District in Boston regularly. On the water shuttle, rush hour is not an issue, there is always plenty of space for everyone. The water shuttle is a fantastic way to commute to Boston. You will also see plenty of tourists riding the shuttle for a ultra cheap way to see Boston from the water. Our dog loves riding on boats, especially on the bow.
The rush hour policy is more strict for commuter boats so you will need to plan accordingly.
Riding the MBTA Buses
When you are riding the buses with your dog make sure you are respectful of those around you. The driver makes the ultimate decision whether or not your dog can come aboard. Rush hour is not really an option and you need to keep your dog off the seats.
MBTA iPhone Application
I just thought I would make other Bostonian dog owning iPhone users (bit of a mouthful) aware of a great application which provides all the schedules for the entire MBTA system on your iPhone or iTouch. The best part it stores the data on your phone so this works even when you are underground without a connection.
When you have a connection MassTransit will find the closest T stop for you and provide T alerts as they happen. No more standing around wondering when the next train, ferry, commuter line or bus will arrive. Now you can spend more time goofing off with your dog instead of standing around wondering when the T is going to arrive.
The MassTransit iPhone App was created by Cambridge based Sparkfish Creative and is incredibly well designed. You can follow this link to the App Store to add this to your Apple iPhone or iTouch.
Here are some links to the MBTA websites: