Sydney’s urban landscape is on the brink of a pet-friendly transformation, thanks to a forward-thinking proposition put forth by the City of Sydney.
Under the initiative, all modes of public transport within the city may soon be accessible to our furry and feathered friends. The proposal, championed by Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, seeks to overhaul current restrictions and usher in a new era of pet-friendly commuting.
As it stands, pets are only permitted on select modes of public transport, including light rail, ferries, and buses, provided one secures verbal consent from the vigilant vehicle staff. This, however, may soon be a thing of the past, allowing a broader spectrum of commuters to enjoy the company of their pets while travelling within Sydney’s bustling metropolitan area.
University student Caitlin Farrugia spoke about how these rules would affect her, as the owner of multiple high-maintenance animals.
“I have two pets, Daphne, who is a Moluccan Eclectus parrot, and Misty, who is a Border Collie,” she said.
Miss Farrugia spoke on her previous struggles in transporting her animals to the city, and how it has often caused her unnecessary stress.
“My parrot got really sick a few months ago and needed to see a specialist in the city for a vet appointment,” she said.
“Having a sick animal as well as expensive vet bills is stressful enough, the added hassle of trying to drive into the city because I can’t bring them [the animals] on the train makes it worse.”
Assistance animals, such as guide dogs, are the only current exception to the ban on animals on public transport.
Guide Dogs Australia Mobility Specialist, Harrison Vause spoke about his concerns regarding the proposed change.
“If the change allows more animals on public transport, it could potentially create a more challenging environment for guide dog users,” Mr Vause said.
“Guide dogs are highly trained to provide safe navigation for individuals with visual impairments, the presence of other animals in close proximity can distract and stress guide dogs, which affects their ability to do their job effectively.”
Mr Vause also brought the potential for irresponsible pet owners into consideration.
“Irresponsible behaviour by pet owners in confined spaces can cause undue distraction and potential aggression towards Guide Dogs,” he said.
“Guide Dogs are trained to focus on their handler and ignore other distractions, however, they are not infallible, and a distracting or aggressive animal can prove to be a challenge.”
Caitlin Farrugia spoke about a potential balance between allowing the public to bring pets onto transport, without causing unwarranted stress towards those with assistance animals.
“Maybe separate train carriages would be a good idea,” she said.
“We already have quiet carriages, maybe we could have designated carriages for those with service animals, and the public can bring their pets into a carriage elsewhere.”
A community-led petition calling for Transport NSW to allow pets on public transport is available for those who want to be involved to sign. The petition will be closing on the 9th of November.