Robb Wilson / Flickr

The U.S. House passed a bill that would allow train passengers to carry-on cats and dogs.

Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to authorize about $8 billion in funding for Amtrak by an overwhelming 316-101 vote. That's mixed news if you're a person, as the bill has high and low points. But you're probably wagging your tail right now if you're a cat or a dog, because it also outlines a pilot program for passengers traveling with pets—the Pet Car:

Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, Amtrak shall develop a pilot program that allows passengers to transport domesticated cats or dogs on certain trains operated by Amtrak.

It goes on to describe how the pilot program would designate "where feasible, at least 1 car" for ticketed passengers traveling with pets, provided the animal is contained in a kennel that meets Amtrak's size requirements for carry-on bags. A separate provision allows the animal to travel as cargo as long as the baggage area "is temperature controlled in a manner protective of cat and dog safety and health."

Passengers will pay a pet fee that covers the "full costs" of the pilot program. Republican Congressman Jeff Denham of California believes the Pet Car could ultimately be a money-maker for the train service. Here's Denham talking to The Hill:

"This is something that will allow new riders that didn't previously want to ride the train before because they couldn't take their pet on there to do so, but also a new revenue generation with paying for those pets the same way that our airplanes across the country are paid for taking their pets," Denham said.

This isn't Denham's first foray into the world of Amtrak passenger pets. In 2013, he sponsored a "Pets on Trains Act" that bears a strong resemblance to the new pilot program. And Amtrak is currently conducting a similar pilot in Illinois: the pet fare was $25 and made on a first-come, first-serve basis up to four reservations per train, with passengers required to keep pets under their seats and prohibited from bringing them into the kibble, er, café car.

Amtrak also lets service animals on board, a policy that wouldn't be impacted by the Pet Car. Under the terms of the House bill, the success of the pilot program would be evaluated after a year. The Amtrak bill now moves to the Senate—though it's reported to have the support of the White House. Including, obviously, Bo.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of a cyclist on the streets of Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood.
    Equity

    Can Historic Preservation Cool Down a Hot Neighborhood?

    The new plan to landmark Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood aims to protect more than just buildings: It’s designed to curb gentrification.

  2. A cat lays flat on a bench at a park on the outskirts of Tokyo.
    Life

    Why Don't Americans Use Their Parks at Night?

    Most cities aren’t fond of letting people use parks after dark. But there are good lifestyle, environmental, and safety reasons to reconsider.

  3. Rows of machinery with long blue tubes and pipes seen at a water desalination plant.
    Environment

    A Water-Stressed World Turns to Desalination

    Desalination is increasingly being used to provide drinking water around the globe. But it remains expensive and creates its own environmental problems.

  4. a photo of a woman covering her ears on a noisy NYC subway platform
    Life

    My Quixotic Quest for Quiet in New York City

    In a booming city, the din of new construction and traffic can be intolerable. Enter Hush City, an app to map the sounds of silence.   

  5. Design

    What Cities Can Do to Help Birds and Bees Survive

    Pollinators—the wildlife that shuffle pollen between flowers—are being decimated. But they may still thrive with enough help from urban humans.

×