New York City is prized for its accessible transit service with extensive subway, taxi, bus, and commuter rail systems. With just over 8.5 million people—many of them pet owners—the city’s transit system needs to be convenient and efficient. New Yorkers love their animals, and local companies and transportation providers have taken notice. Our New York City pet travel guide has the information you need about the city’s most popular pet travel options—from commuter rails and busses to rideshare services and pet taxis.
In fact, pet parents will find that nearly every mode of New York City transportation—train, bus, cab, and airplane—includes some kind of pet-friendly option. The work lies in figuring out which works best for you, your schedule, and your pet.
New York City Pet Travel Options
Traveling with Pets on Trains and Subways
If you’re traveling to or from New York City, you will likely need to use one of the area’s several commuter rail services. These trains can be used to navigate satellite towns and the larger metro area. All NYC commuter rails allow animals, but their policies differ slightly. See below for specific details.
- AirTrain JFK—If you’re traveling to or from JFK International Airport, AirTrain JFK is an excellent option. This three-line, 8.1-mile-long elevated railway provides 24/7 service at 10 stations, connecting with the subway system and the Long Island Rail Road for both urban and suburban access. AirTrain JFK is a fast and easy way to access major destinations in New York and New Jersey. The railway allows small, domestic animals in secure carriers.
- MTA Long Island Rail Road—The MTA Long Island Rail Road is New York City’s largest commuter rail system. It runs 24/7, covers more than 700 miles, and has 124 stations. Passengers may travel with pets provided they are small, domestic, and carried in kennels or similar containers. The pet must fit on your lap without disturbing other passengers.
- Metro-North Railroad—The Metro-North Railroad is the other MTA-owned commuter rail. This system provides service between New York its northern suburbs, extending into Connecticut. You may travel with an animal provided it is carrier within a kennel or similar container. You may also travel with a larger animal if he is securely controlled on a leash throughout the trip and does not disturb other passengers.
- Staten Island Railway—The Staten Island Railway is the only rail transportation in Staten Island. It operates 24/7, and there are no direct rail links between SIR and New York City’s subway system. However, SIR riders receive a free transfer to NYC subway lines. Small, domestic pets are allowed provided they are carried in secured carriers or are tethered with a harness.
Traveling with Pets on the NYC Subway
If you are traveling within the city, you will likely utilize some of the NYC Subway. This subway system is the largest rapid transit system in the world, and it offers unmatched convenience with 24/7 service to all parts of city. Adding to this convenience, the NYC Subway system is accessible to pet owners. Per the MTA rules of conduct:
“No person may bring any animal on or into any conveyance or facility unless enclosed in a container and carried in a manner which would not annoy other passengers.”
Put simply, if your animal can sit quietly in a container, he can ride with you on the subway. If your pet does not fit in a container, you may want consider alternative transportation or adopting a New Yorker-inspired strategy.
Traveling with Pets on Buses
In some cases, taking a bus is more convenient than hopping on the subway. Luckily, New York City’s bus system is regulated by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority—the same governing body responsible for setting subway rules and regulations. The MTA bus pet policy is the same as the subway: Your small, domestic pet can ride with you provided he is carried in a closed container and does not disturb other passengers. In this case, however, we don’t recommend getting creative with your “container.” Bus drivers are aware of this policy, and they may refuse entrance if you attempt to board with a large dog. In fact, they are known for strictly enforcing the enclosed carrier policy.
Taxicabs, Uber, Lyft, and Ride-Sharing Pet Travel
A Taxi or rideshare service is likely your most convenient option for New York City pet transportation. Taxis may pick up dogs, but the decision is up to the individual driver or taxi company. Some companies adopt a strict no-pets rule, while others leave the decision to the cab operator. If you are hailing a taxi, ensure that your animal is visibly leashed or in a container at your side. This will allow the driver the opportunity to decide if he or she wants to stop and collect you and your animal.
Rideshare companies, such as Uber and Lyft, are great alternatives to standard taxi service. These companies pet policies are similar to one another: They both encourage the rider to contact the driver immediately after he or she accepts the ride request. In alerting the driver to the presence of an animal, the passenger allows the driver to cancel the request if there is an issue with having a pet in the car. When messaging or calling the driver, include information such as temperament, breed, and whether or not the pet is in a carrier.
Uber also recently introduced their uberPET initiative, which allows drivers to opt into automatic pet acceptance. Riders simply choose the uberPET option on their app, which imposes a $2 surcharge in exchange for a guaranteed pet-friendly ride. This service is available in New York City and promises pet parents a ride with a responsible and prepared driver.
Pet Taxi Services
As with most major U.S. cities, New York City hosts a variety of pet taxi services. This option is a guaranteed pet-friendly taxi ride. Pet parents can call one of several New York City companies to request a ride or reserve a car in advance online. If your pet is too large to ride on public transportation, you might have trouble flagging down a pet-friendly taxi. This is the optimal situation for utilizing this type of amenity.
Pet taxi prices vary widely, but they tend to be more expensive than a standard taxi or Uber/Lyft ride. Canine Car rides, for example, start at $30 within Manhattan and $50 outside of Manhattan. PetTaxi New York recommends that passengers reserve their rides at least two hours before pickup, and single rides start at $50 (1-50 blocks).
As a result, we recommend utilizing these services for immediate, time-sensitive, or long-distance journeys—this is a perfect option for traveling to a veterinarian, airport, or suburb. These companies are designed to accommodate animals and are thus available for pets too large to fit inside a carrier. However, you should always check with your pet taxi service provider for any company-specific restrictions.
Pet-Friendly Rental Car Companies
Though not the most obvious option, rental car companies provide a solution for both immediate and short-term pet transportation. If you need transport service for just a few hours or a couple of days, ZipCar is an excellent choice. Users can reserve a car for any length of time between one hour and seven days, and there are hundreds of stations throughout New York City. Zipcar requires that all pets be kept in carriers while traveling. They also strongly encourage pet parents to clean all pet hair at the end of the reservation.
For longer distance travel, consider renting a car from a pet-friendly New York City service: Hertz, Alamo, Budget, or Avis. Hertz and Alamo require that all animals travel within containers, but Budget and Avis allow animals to ride outside of their carriers. Additionally, Hertz recently introduced a pet-friendly initiative. When you make your reservation at least 24 hours prior to pick-up, their staff will install protective grills and dirt protection in the car. The grilles serve to shield the animal from sliding luggage, and the dirt protection ensures you won’t have to pay additional cleaning fees. To that end, riders should note that these companies require cars to be clean upon return. Failure to adequately clean up after your animal may result in hefty fees.
New York City Airport and Airline Pet Travel Guide
Whether you’re a New York City resident or traveling here for business, you’ll likely need to pass through one of the city’s airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport. Each has a separate pet policy and animal-related rules, so we recommend reviewing our airport guides before booking a flight.
- JFK International is one of the country’s most pet-friendly airports. Sporting seven total pet relief areas and an even balance of pre- and post-security options, this is an excellent departing or arriving station for those traveling with animals. As with most airports, dogs must stay within crates or carriers while on the campus. If you plan to ship your animal to or from JFK, he will pass through the ARK Pet Oasis, which serves as the central resource for all airline animal shipping. This amenity boasts easy access to aircrafts, vans for safe transport, a veterinary triage area, 100% air exchange, and dedicated outdoor relief areas for dogs.
- Though LaGuardia does not have JFK International Airport’s frills, it remains a reliable pet-friendly transit option. This airport houses five pet relief stations—four outside and before security, one inside a secured area. As with JFK, LaGuardia requires that all pets remain in their carriers while in the airport and aboard the aircraft.
Airport pet policies rarely diverge, but airline regulations vary greatly between providers. In addition to researching your departing and arriving airport, spend some time learning about your airline. Some offer several pet transit options, while others have banned non-service animals completely. In researching your airline, you can be better prepared for your big travel day.
Don’t Hesitate to Bring Your Pet with You to New York City
With so many pet-friendly transportation options in New York City, you’re practically guaranteed to find one that works for you and your furry friend. In some cases, the journey may require some patience and creativity, but between public transit and airport options, rideshare services and dog taxis, you can get your pet from Point A to Point B. If you’re planning a visit and like having your pet with you, there’s no reason to hesitate when traveling to New York City.