NSW Transport will begin actively enforcing rules prohibiting leashed dogs from travelling ‘freely’ on ferries from July 1, a spokesperson has confirmed.
Current government policy is that dogs must be in a box, basket or other container (unless they are an assistance animal) while travelling on NSW transport, including ferries. For ferries, it also requires the permission of the crew. Same too for buses. Therefore this is not so much a new decision to ban dogs from boarding when only on a leash, but a decision to actively enforce existing rules that they be in a box or carrier.
Up until now, however, authorities have tended to turn a blind eye to the rules, and many residents have enjoyed boarding ferries with their leashed pets without use of a container or carrier. One such passenger is Balgowlah’s Cathy Kell, who regularly travels with dog Chelsea [certified 11/10 good doggo] on the Manly ferry.
Cathy said she is incredibly disappointed with the decision to crackdown on well-behaved dogs enjoying travel, and she always thought it was perfectly legal to do so.
But signs have been erected around the ferries recently confirming the change in policing will take place.
The signs read: “From 1 July Staff will be enforcing current NSW Passenger Transport Act and regulations. All animals and pets must be in a carrier to travel on ferries and be under control at all times. Animals and pets on leashes will not be allowed. Staff have the right to refuse travel. Assistance animals are permitted to travel without a carrier.”
A Transport for NSW spokesperson also confirmed the enforcement. “Dogs are not banned on ferries,” the spokesperson clarified. “When travelling on ferries dogs must be in a box, basket or other container, unless they are an assistance animal. This is not a new policy but will be enforced from July 1,” he said.
A leaked email from operator Transdev, viewed by our friends at Mosman Collective, showed that Transdev will allow a grace period for customers at the discretion of the Master. But from next month “pets MUST be retrained in a suitable box, basket or container at all times while on board. This requirement cannot be overruled.”
Manly Observer understands, but has not cited evidence to confirm, that the enforcement is in response to a dog bite occurring on a ferry recently.
You can view the full policy on animals on public transport here: https://transportnsw.info/travel-info/using-public-transport/travelling-with-animals-pets
Fines of up to $550 can apply.
A study by University of Sydney found that while European cities allowed dogs on public transport, most cities in North America and Australia did not. Most cities in Europe charge a fare for dogs at a concession or child price. Zurich went one step further to offer an annual travel card for dogs, they report.
The work, (viewable here: https://www.sydney.edu.au/business/news-and-events/news/2021/05/03/riding-with-dogs—what-can-it-tell-us-about-transport-.html) concludes the following:
So why does Australia maintain such a restrictive approach? Does it reflect attitudes towards dogs in public in Sydney? This is unlikely as Australia has one of the highest rates of dog ownership in the world, and dogs are slowly increasingly welcome in pubs, bars and cafes. We believe it says more about the way we view public transport in Australia.
The way it is planned and operated is great for predictable and ‘clean’ trips – such as the journey to work. For many though, this is not the reality of everyday life. Our lives are more typically made up of ‘messy’ trips – we go to the hardware store, pick up children and groceries, visit family and friends, and, of course, travel with our dogs. For these types of ‘messy’ trips in Sydney, public transport is not convenient (or its use prohibited) and we turn to using a car.
Reducing car use means we need to plan and provide public transport systems that respond to the mess of modern life. Understanding and overcoming barriers to implementing a pets on public transport policy would be one step in this direction.