Dogs on Trains: Travel Guide for Pet-Friendly Trains

We have the pet train travel information you need to feel comfortable with your transit choice. The below sections have essential costs, pet policies, carrier information, and service animal policies for both national and regional rail systems. Amtrak is the only nationwide passenger train, and its pet policies are surprisingly friendly. Regional commuter trains and other forms of rail transit have distinct, carrier-specific policies, but you can determine your animal’s ability to ride with the information provided. If you’re looking for information about animal-friendly city transit and subway travel, we recommend checking out our individual city pet travel guides.

 

Amtrak Pet Policy

Amtrak provides geographical reach comparable to most airlines, making it an excellent form of long-distance travel. The train line allows pets to travel in the Coach Cabins of most train lines, but some western United States lines have dedicated pet cabins. There is a maximum of five pets per train, though service animals don’t count toward this limit. We encourage you to make your pet reservations as soon as you decide to travel with Amtrak.

At just $25 per pet, bringing an animal on Amtrak is far cheaper than other forms of pet travel. However, not all pets can ride with this carrier; the system imposes size and age restrictions on all traveling animals. To that end, Amtrak has its own set of pet carrier restrictions, required paperwork, and check-in procedure. To learn more about specific Amtrak pet policies, see our guide.

 

Regional Train Pet Policies

 

Northeast—

MBTA Commuter Rail (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority)—Eleven lines comprise this Boston-centered rail service. The system serves much of eastern Massachusetts, but one line extends south into Rhode Island. Service animals are allowed at all times. All other animals may

ride during off-peak hours, but they may not ride during rush hour. Small animals, such as cats and rabbits, should be kept in pet carriers, which must sit on your lap and away from vehicle doors.

 

Metro-North Commuter Railroad—This railroad extends from New York City’s Grand Central Station north to upstate New York. One very busy line also extends into Connecticut. Small domestic animals are permitted if they are carried in kennels or similar containers. Animals may also ride if they are leashed throughout the trip and do not disturb fellow passengers.

 

Long Island Railroad—The LIR is New York City’s largest commuter rail system, covering 700 miles with its 124 stations. Pets may travel via the Long Island Railroad if they are small, domestic, and carried in kennels or similar containers. This container must fit on your lap, and the animal may not annoy other passengers.

 

PATH (Port Authority Trans Hudson)—PATH is a rapid transit system serving Newark, Harrison, Hoboken, Jersey City, and Manhattan. Small dogs and cats may ride with PATH if they are secured in carriers.

 

New Jersey Transit—This state-owned public transportation system has eleven train lines extending throughout New Jersey. It provides service to the Newark Airport, Trenton, Atlantic City, Princeton University, Camden, and Philadelphia, PA. Small pets in carry-on travel cages are allowed on both NJ Transit trains and buses.

 

AirTrain JFK—This 8.1-mile-long system provides 24/7 service to John F. Kennedy International Airport. The AirTrain connects with MTA subways and buses, as well as the Long Island Rail Road. Small domestic animals within secured containers may ride the AirTrain.

 

SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority)—This transit system provides service around the greater Philadelphia area. This includes Philadelphia International Airport, and lines extend as far as the state of Delaware. Service animals are permitted on all SEPTA services, but non-service animals (including those used for mental health and emotional support ) must ride in carriers.

 

SLE (Shore Line East)—This commuter rail service operates along the Northeast Corridor through southern Connecticut. It provides access between New London and New Haven on both weekends and weekdays. Pets are allowed onboard, but they must be either leashed or confined in a closed, ventilated container.

 

CapeFlyer—This rail system provides summer weekend passenger service between Boston and Cape Cod. Trains run from Memorial Day to Labor Day from South Station to Hyannis. Stops include Braintree, Brockton, Middleborough, Wareham Village, and Buzzards Bay. Pets are allowed on the CapeFlyer, but dogs must be properly leashed or in a container.

 

Washington, D.C. Area—

MARC (Maryland Area Regional Commuter)—Several lines extend north from Washington, D.C. into Baltimore. Lines also reach into West Virginia. Only small pets secured in enclosed carriers can ride on MARC trains.

 

VRE (Virginia Railway Express)—This regional commuter rail service connects the Northern Virginia suburbs to Washington, D.C. Only small pets secured in enclosed containers may ride on VRE trains.

 

Chicago Area—

Metra—Metra trains serve Cook, DuPage, Will, Lake, Kane, and McHenry counties via eleven separate lines. Small pets in enclosed carriers are permitted on non-peak period weekday trains arriving in Chicago before 6:31AM and after 9:30AM, as well as trains departing Chicago before 3PM and after 7PM. All weekend trains accept pets, but there is no guarantee that pets can be accommodated. Train crews may refuse your pet service in the event of overcrowding.

 

South Shore Line—This is a single line running along the south shore of Lake Michigan. It travels from Chicago to South Bend, Indiana. Small animals transported in small carry-on travel cages may ride this train, but the carrier must fit under the seat. Animals, including police dogs and service animals, cannot occupy seats.

 

California—

Amtrak California—This is a state-subsidized, interstate portion of the Amtrak network. This pet policy is the same as Amtrak’s; it will cost you $25 to bring a small animal (under 20 pounds) aboard. However, there are a few differences. The Pacific Surfliner (San Diego to San Luis Obispo), the Capital Corridor (San Jose to Auburn), and the San Joaquin (Central Valley) do not allow pets.

 

ACE (Altamont Commuter Express)—This train service travels from San Jose to Santa Clara, over to Stockton and through the Altmont Corridor. Trains go to San Jose in the morning and out to Stockton in the afternoon. With the exception of guide dogs, animals are prohibited on all trains.

 

BART—The Bay Area Rapid Transit is a public metro system serving the San Francisco bay area. Trains serve Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties and connect with Amtrak trains at the Richmond station. Pets are allowed aboard for no additional charge, but they must be secured in a container specifically manufactured for pet transport.

 

Caltrain—This hourly train service runs between San Francisco and San Jose, making several stops in Silicon Valley. Rush hour service necessitates more frequent and express service trains. Trained service animals are the only pets allowed aboard. While riding service animals must sit or stand on the floor; if the animal misbehaves, the customer will be asked to remove the animal from the vehicle.

 

Capitol Corridor—This service runs frequent trains between San Jose, Hayward, Oakland, Richmond, and Sacramento. Only service animals—those trained to perform a specific task for the benefit of a person with a disability—are permitted onboard trains. Emotional support and companion animals are not allowed.

 

Metrolink—This commuter rail system connects Los Angeles’ Union Station to suburbs and cities in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties. Small animals are permitted on board, but they must be kept in small pet carriers under the seat or on your lap. Large pets are not allowed on Metrolink trains.

 

The Coaster—This commuter rail service operates in the central and northern coastal regions of San Diego County, extending from downtown Santa Fe Station in San Diego to Oceanside in the northern suburbs. Known for its breathtaking coastal scenery, more than 20 trains run on weekdays (with additional weekend service). Small animals are permitted only in proper enclosed pet containers, and the carrier must be on the floor or lap.

 

Los Angeles Metro—Branded as “Metro,” this is the public transportation operating agency for the County of Los Angeles. Pets are allowed onboard Metro if they are secured in enclosed carriers. They must not block the aisle or doorway, and they should not deprive a customer of a seat.

 

VTA—The VTA Light Rail system serves San Jose, California and its suburbs in Silicon Valley. Customers are allowed to transport small pet permitted they are completely enclosed within their cage or carrier. The pet and carrier must be small enough to fit on a customer’s lap.

 

Northwest—

Alaska Railroad—Extending from Seward and Whittier to Fairbanks and beyond, this rail line provides scenic views of America’s northernmost state. Pets are only permitted onboard in the baggage car, and they must be in an airline-approved kennel. At the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop, kennels may be left next to the train upon disembarkation and picked up upon your return.

 

TriMet—This Portland, Oregon-area system provides bus, light rail, and commuter rail transit services throughout the greater metro area. Only pets within enclosed containers may board TriMet buses and trains.

 

Sounder—This regional commuter rail travels south from Seattle to Lakewood via Tukwila, Kent, Auburn, Sumner, Puyallup, Tacoma, and South Tacoma. It also travels north to Everett via Edmonds and Mukilteo on a separate route. Small pets are allowed on Sound Transit trains (and buses) provided they are carried in small, enclosed containers.

 

Other parts of the country—

Music City Star—This short train runs just 32 miles, connecting Nashville and Lebanon, Tennessee. The RTA Music City Star does not operate weekly service on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, or Thanksgiving. Animals are not allowed unless they are in approved animal transfer cages. Service dogs are the only exception.

 

New Mexico Rail Runner—This train system travels nearly 100 miles between Belen, Albuquerque, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Riders can connect to Amtrak and Greyhound transit at the downtown Albuquerque Alvarado stop. Companion and emotional support animals are not allowed on these trains, but service animals are permitted to ride free of charge. Rail operators may ask you what task the service animal has been trained to perform.

 

Tri-Rail—This commuter rail line connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, Florida. It is operated by the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, serving the area’s airports and various shuttle bus stations. Small pets are permitted on the trains if enclosed in a proper carrying cage.

 

Trinity Railway Express (TRE)—This commuter rail runs between Ft. Worth and Dallas, Texas, connecting the DFW airport at the Centerpoint station. Small animals are permitted onboard if they remain in enclosed pet containers.

 

UTA FrontRunner—This rail line runs along the Wasatch Front between Pleasant View, Ogden, Salt Lake City, and Provo, Utah. Animals are permitted on FrontRunner trains as long as they are in a carrying case and not exhibited threatening behavior. If the pet is not a service animal, it must be in an enclosed carrier.