MORGAN PARK — Metra will allow pets that fit into a small carrier to ride weekday trains during off-peak hours beginning May 1.
The six-month trial program is an expansion of the commuter rail service's existing policy allowing small pets on weekend and holiday trains. The approach mirrors Metra's rules for bikes on trains in terms of the specific times of day.
Pets will be permitted on weekday trains arriving Downtown before 6:31 a.m. and after 9:30 a.m. and trains departing Chicago before 3 p.m. and after 7 p.m.
“So far, our pet policy has been successful. It just makes sense to test if we can expand it and make travel by train an even more attractive and convenient choice for these customers,” said Don Orseno, Metra's executive director.
Metra's written statement issued Wednesday goes on to say that the expanded pet policy could become permanent after the six-month trial period. Additional details include:
• Only small pets in enclosed protective carriers are allowed onboard.
• Carriers will not be allowed to take up seats or seating areas, obstruct pathways on trains or in stations and must be small enough to be carried on by a single person.
• Carriers must fit in a passenger’s lap or under the seat at all times.
• Metra can remove passengers with pets that are noisy or disturb other customers.
• Pet owners are responsible for the behavior and cleanup of their animals.
• Service animals are allowed on all Metra trains at all times.
The expanded pet policy follows a 2013 passenger petition asking that pets be allowed on trains. Metra went on to survey of the policies of other mass transit agencies found that many allowed small pets aboard their trains and buses.
Metra also consulted with its Citizens Advisory Board and surveyed its customers before the initial three-month pilot program began on the Rock Island Line in the summer of 2015.
And after expanding the pilot to all Metra lines in October 2015, a permanent policy was approved in January 2016 by the Metra Board of Directors.