Expanded ‘Pets on Trains' program begins Saturday on all Metra trains

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CHICAGO (STMW) - Small pets in carriers will be allowed on all weekend Metra trains beginning Saturday and lasting through January.

“We are pleased that the test on the Rock Island Line went well and that we can now offer this option to all of our customers,” Metra Executive Director and Don Orseno said in a statement. “It’s in Metra’s best interest to offer a program like this that serves our riders and, for some, makes travel by train an even more convenient choice.”

The pilot pet program, which began July 4 on weekend Rock Island Line trains, allowed pets to come on board in a crate small enough to fit under a seat or in the owner’s lap.

Metra’s citizen advisory board approved the program after more than 4,000 people signed an online petition supporting the idea. It was implemented after rider concerns about allergies, barking dogs and animal odors were addressed. Metra policy allows conductors to boot animals who are disruptive, noisy or smell.

Only 39 riders took advantage during the three-month pilot period, Metra said. But riders who completed an online survey overwhelmingly supported the program (68 percent to 24 percent, with 8 percent not answering) and endorsed expanding it to weekends on all lines (62 percent to 5.5 percent, with 32.5 percent not answering).

According to Metra, the transit agency did not receive a single complaint during the Rock Island Line pilot.

After January, Metra will assess how the expanded program worked and then determine whether and how to proceed. Metra will again ask riders to complete a survey at metrarail.com about their experiences with “Pets on Trains.”