GO Transit going to the dogs with new pilot project for pet owners
Between July 20 to October 15, leashed dogs will be allowed on GO trains
Dogs may have finally got their day — on GO Transit, at least.
Metrolinx is launching a pilot project running from July 20 to Oct. 15 allowing customers to bring a maximum of two leashed dogs on GO trains.
This comes after dog owner Kimberly Flemming petitioned for Metrolinx to update its pet policy in last August.
Since then, her petition has garnered 25,485 signatures and counting.
"I'm so happy for the people that need to be able to use GO Transit," she told CBC Toronto. "It's a fantastic situation."
GO train riders were previously required to put their animals in enclosed carriers, regardless of their size.
Flemming says it was impossible to take her 30 pound miniature Australian shepherd, Tess, in a carrier.
She says she had to drive 20 minutes from Port Credit to Kipling station to ride the TTC, which allows leashed dogs, into downtown Toronto to visit her daughter.
"This links all of the systems together," she said. "So, it's much easier for the transit user."
'We tried to strike a balance'
Anne Marie Aikins, Metrolinx spokesperson, says the new pet policy won't be without conditions.
On weekdays, commuters will be allowed a maximum of two leashed dogs between 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and from 6 p.m. until the end of service. They are allowed on all day on weekends and holidays. However, during rush hour, dogs will have to be transported in carriers.
Service animals will still be allowed to ride GO trains all hours on weekdays and weekends.
Aikins says if dogs have "an accident," owners must not only pick up the waste but also take it home.
"If you leave it on the train, it won't be emptied for quite a number of hours," she said. "It will fester and that will be unpleasant for the rest of the customers."
At the halfway point of the trial period, Aikins says Metrolinx will be conducting a survey for customers to vote on the fate of the pet policy.
When it's over, she says a decision will be made "fairly quickly."
Flemming says when she first started the petition last year, it was because "thousands" of people in the GTA needed it.
"I think it's a fantastic project," she said. "I'm so glad they're doing it."