Amtrak Pets on Board Trial

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rickycourtney

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Amtrak made the surprise announcement today. At this point it's a trial program on one train that will last six months.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

ILLINOIS DOT AND AMTRAK TO ALLOW PETS ABOARD AS A TEST BETWEEN CHICAGO AND QUINCY

Six-month program will evaluate idea for other trains nationally

CHICAGO -- Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation are teaming up to let travelers bring their pets along between Chicago and Quincy on Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg trains. Reservations are now available for travel from May 5 through Nov.2, as a test of the service.

Ticketing and travel with pets can begin only at staffed stations in Chicago, Naperville and Galesburg, advance reservations are required and a surcharge of $25 will be assessed for travel. Dogs or cats up to 20- pounds each will be accepted in carriers such as those used in airplane cabins and placed at the feet and under the seat of each pet owner. Trains 380-383 operate to and from Chicago, LaGrange, Naperville, Plano, Mendota, Princeton, Kewanee, Galesburg, Macomb and Quincy.
Full press release and Passenger Service Notice posted here.

I look forward to reading some trip reports from our members on both sides of this issue as they ride the Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg.
 

AmtrakBlue

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I better make sure my big kitty stays under 20 lbs. He generally weighs about 19 lbs.

Wonder if the 20 lbs includes the weight of the carrier.
 

Allypet

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They have toyed with the idea of a pet car for the Auto Train. That will become a reality when they address the HEP and braking issues.
 
H

Henry Kisor

Guest
Time to trade in your 140 pound Neapolitan Mastiff for a chihuahua.
 

SarahZ

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I better make sure my big kitty stays under 20 lbs. He generally weighs about 19 lbs.

Wonder if the 20 lbs includes the weight of the carrier.
It doesn't appear so. Sometimes airlines will make a note that the carrier + pet have to be under a certain weight, but the way the Amtrak article reads, it sounds like the animal itself has to weigh 20 pounds or less. I imagine the carrier's weight wouldn't be an issue on a train as it would on an airplane.
 
W

Wildcat

Guest
I have pets. But I do NOT want them on a common carrier. Service dogs? Of course. No others, though. All this pet-centric nonsense is just new-age, crystal-worshipping nonsense for and about fearful people. I truly do NOT care if you are afraid of travel without Rover by your side or that you get anxious or whatever. That is your problem, not mine.
 

fairviewroad

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This is such a limited scope trial that you have to wonder how useful the data/anecdotal evidence will be. They are only accepting pets at three stations--Chicago, Naperville, Galesburg.

Since presumably there is no CHI-NPV traffic, this is really only useful for people traveling round-trip CHI-GBB and NPV-GBB. I mean, you could disembark at any other station along the route but you'd be out of luck for the return trip. Also, with the pet fee exceeding the base rail fare on those segments (for advance purchase tickets) you have to wonder how many people will avail themselves of this service.

My guess? After six months, so few people will have used it due to cost/impracticality/lack of awareness that Amtrak/IDOT will simply say "Look, we tried and no one wanted it." [Alternatively, they might say "We tried it and over the first six months there were no problems, so let's expand it system-wide"] Either way, the conclusion will likely be based on a minimal amount of evidence.
 
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MattW

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I have pets. But I do NOT want them on a common carrier. Service dogs? Of course. No others, though. All this pet-centric nonsense is just new-age, crystal-worshipping nonsense for and about fearful people. I truly do NOT care if you are afraid of travel without Rover by your side or that you get anxious or whatever. That is your problem, not mine.
So people with pets that need to move them are just out of luck? So I assume you're against the pet policies on airlines too right? People don't bring their pets just because they're "afraid" of being without them. Many people are actually going places and staying there a while. It's not fair to the animal to lock them up for days or weeks while they're gone. Given that the trial route connects from smaller cities to Chicago, a good many of the pets brought aboard might just be headed for better vet care than can be found in the smaller cities. Why do you care so much about what other people do?
 

rickycourtney

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This is such a limited scope trial that you have to wonder how useful the data/anecdotal evidence will be. They are only accepting pets at three stations--Chicago, Naperville, Galesburg.

Since presumably there is no CHI-NPV traffic, this is really only useful for people traveling round-trip CHI-GBB and NPV-GBB. I mean, you could disembark at any other station along the route but you'd be out of luck for the return trip. Also, with the pet fee exceeding the base rail fare on those segments (for advance purchase tickets) you have to wonder how many people will avail themselves of this service.

My guess? After six months, so few people will have used it due to cost/impracticality/lack of awareness that Amtrak/IDOT will simply say "Look, we tried and no one wanted it." [Alternatively, they might say "We tried it and over the first six months there were no problems, so let's expand it system-wide"] Either way, the conclusion will likely be based on a minimal amount of evidence.
Go back and read the document I posted again. Passengers must begin their trip at Chicago, Naperville, Galesburg but they can go to any other station on the line and once the pet is ticketed, they can make a return trip from an unstaffed station.

It sounds like Amtrak wants an agent to inspect the animal at the station before issuing a ticket.

I expect this could be the model used by Amtrak nationwide if this trial is successful.

I'm okay with the fee. It has the side effect of making passengers stop and think if they really need to bring their cat or dog... If they do, they'll pay the fee.
 

amamba

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I think this is a great idea for short haul trips. If they did this on the NEC I would absolutely travel that way for holidays when I visit my family. Right now I have to drive because my dog comes for thanksgiving/christmas and its a huge PITA. It would be great to get my car off the 95 gauntlet and the NJ turnpike and get me back onto the train. My dog can easily hold it for the 4 hour trip. He would probably just sleep the entire time.
 
B

berlin

Guest
I have pets. But I do NOT want them on a common carrier. Service dogs? Of course. No others, though. All this pet-centric nonsense is just new-age, crystal-worshipping nonsense for and about fearful people. I truly do NOT care if you are afraid of travel without Rover by your side or that you get anxious or whatever. That is your problem, not mine.
So people with pets that need to move them are just out of luck? So I assume you're against the pet policies on airlines too right? People don't bring their pets just because they're "afraid" of being without them. Many people are actually going places and staying there a while. It's not fair to the animal to lock them up for days or weeks while they're gone. Given that the trial route connects from smaller cities to Chicago, a good many of the pets brought aboard might just be headed for better vet care than can be found in the smaller cities. Why do you care so much about what other people do?
In most other countries, especially in Europe, it is VERY common for animals to be allowed on trains as well as in restaurants, etc. Rather than the US being "pet-obsessed" as some have suggested, I think it is more accurate to say that many in the US are pet-phobic (and/or animal haters?).
 

zepherdude

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On a recent Delta flight, a sweet girl sat next to me on the floor for a 6 hour flight. She was not a service dog. Just a dog on a leash. The owner said nothing to me the entire flight. My seat was 1B, on the bulkhead, and there was enough room for all 3 of us, Since the owner offered no words, I was just as quiet and forgot the dog was there. I am pet friendly and it was not an issue. I can not see this in coach however, there is little room for a floor traveler. On arrival I let the dog and owner go first off the airplane. Both passengers declined any comments.

Coast Starlight recently, 2 dogs on a leash boarded in Oregon and Washington in coach on a leash. Both were bound for SEA. They both went to the snack bar and lounge car as well.

The point is maybe times are changing for dogs. On the flight, I felt sorry the dog had no water for 6 hours. The lady used the facility once, which is quite close in this cabin. Dunno folks, dogs are family members. Maybe they are being treated as such now.
 

Green Maned Lion

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Frankly, if pet carrying is done it should be done in a special room in a baggage car. People are allergic to pets, you know. And what do you do if someone's dog won't stop barking? The babies are bad enough.
 

amamba

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Frankly, if pet carrying is done it should be done in a special room in a baggage car. People are allergic to pets, you know. And what do you do if someone's dog won't stop barking? The babies are bad enough.
So do you have a problem with people bringing their pets on planes as they do now with similar restrictions?

I am not saying that pets should have free run of amtrak trains, but I think some common sense regulations allowing pets in carriers on short haul trips (like on a plane) are reasonable.
 

Eris

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Mar 15, 2007
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People are bringing their pets now anyway- they call them service animals and the train crew is nearly helpless to do anything about it (though there was a young gentleman taken off the northbound Coast Starlight in Klamath Falls a few weeks ago with his utterly untrained "service dog"- he resisted leaving and was arrested- they had been on board since Van Nuys, so it took nearly 24 hours for the crew to feel it had a solid enough case to give them the boot). Perhaps by having an allowed way to bring some animals along, it will be easier for crews to call BS on ill-mannered dogs being brought on as service animals, or at least there is the possibility that some of the smaller ones will be paid for and kept confined.

I love dogs, would love to bring my dogs on the train, enjoy seeing any sort of animal, smuggled or not, on the train, but really dislike being growled at by a chihuahua for walking past its owner as she grips the dog with one hand and drags on a cigarette with the other right outside the door of the train at a fresh air stop. To be fair, I may have growled back, so maybe I need to be crated, too.
 

fairviewroad

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This is such a limited scope trial that you have to wonder how useful the data/anecdotal evidence will be. They are only accepting pets at three stations--Chicago, Naperville, Galesburg.

Since presumably there is no CHI-NPV traffic, this is really only useful for people traveling round-trip CHI-GBB and NPV-GBB. I mean, you could disembark at any other station along the route but you'd be out of luck for the return trip. Also, with the pet fee exceeding the base rail fare on those segments (for advance purchase tickets) you have to wonder how many people will avail themselves of this service.

My guess? After six months, so few people will have used it due to cost/impracticality/lack of awareness that Amtrak/IDOT will simply say "Look, we tried and no one wanted it." [Alternatively, they might say "We tried it and over the first six months there were no problems, so let's expand it system-wide"] Either way, the conclusion will likely be based on a minimal amount of evidence.
Go back and read the document I posted again. Passengers must begin their trip at Chicago, Naperville, Galesburg but they can go to any other station on the line and once the pet is ticketed, they can make a return trip from an unstaffed station.

It sounds like Amtrak wants an agent to inspect the animal at the station before issuing a ticket.

I expect this could be the model used by Amtrak nationwide if this trial is successful.

I'm okay with the fee. It has the side effect of making passengers stop and think if they really need to bring their cat or dog... If they do, they'll pay the fee.
You're right, I only saw the press release and did not see the passenger service notice. The press release does not mention the ability to make

the return trip from an unstaffed station. I still think this is of such limited scope that it will be difficult to apply the lessons learned to other routes,

but at least it's not as restrictive as I initially thought. Thanks for pointing that out.
 
G

guest

Guest
Frankly, if pet carrying is done it should be done in a special room in a baggage car. People are allergic to pets, you know. And what do you do if someone's dog won't stop barking? The babies are bad enough.
People are also allergic to peanuts, cleaning solvents, clothing fibers, fragrances, and too many other things to mention...all of which are found in public places, including on board Amtrak trains. You cannot expect an entire train to be "decontaminated" or have the upholstery replaced or the cafe stock removed simply because one person on board has an allergy. It is up to the allergic person to avoid such contact, such as asking for a seat that is not in contact with these things, as much as that is possible. It is not everyone else's responsibility, including that of the carrier.
 

Allypet

Service Attendant
Joined
Jul 17, 2012
Messages
161
I have pets. But I do NOT want them on a common carrier. Service dogs? Of course. No others, though. All this pet-centric nonsense is just new-age, crystal-worshipping nonsense for and about fearful people. I truly do NOT care if you are afraid of travel without Rover by your side or that you get anxious or whatever. That is your problem, not mine.
Service dogs have a whole host of meaning. There are even therapy/ anxiety dogs for our returning vets who suffer from PTSD. Are you prepared to tell him/her its their own anxiety and to get over it? Not me, in fact I for one would be most happy to share my bedroom with one of these dogs if needed.
 

FriskyFL

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Sep 28, 2008
Messages
782
Pets aren't people, they belong in the baggage car.

Bona fide service animals are most definitely not PETS.

Unfortunately, as with most things, some selfish arrogant people find ways to circumvent the laws regarding accommodating service animals, via brazenly bogus "certification", or baldfaced lying.

And no, "emotional support animals" don't count. Otherwise just about every pet would meet that vague definition.
 
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