Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Woof woof

Dogs onboard public transport is a common experience. Cost to transport them varies, with some operators charging discounted rates, others not charging. Often, from experience, drivers don't charge for them, even if their management instructs them to do so.

But should they be allowed?  It's very difficult to set blanket rules, the term 'dog' ranges from a Jack Russell to a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, clearly there's a big difference in terms of size and danger to others. Whilst a dog may not be threatening in nature, the presence of some larger dogs may intimidate some passengers, particularly the young and very vulnerable. After all, we are not all 'dog people,' some people are terrified by their very existence.

Despite not owning one, and never being in a family that has owned one, I would consider myself a ‘dog person’, I think they’re great. But that’s the dogs that I know. Dogs belonging to friends and family who I have come to know are safe and friendly. Therefore, I feel uncomfortable when strangers board a bus I know with a dog in tow. As well as the potential for the dog being dangerous (albeit unlikely), there’s also the possibility that the dog might be smelly or might not have the same bladder control as the fellow passengers. Not to mention the irritation of a barking dog in a confined space (though the same could be said for young babies). I personally think that it makes for a less enjoyable journey.

The flipside is of course that dogs do often need to go to places, the vets, for example, not accessible by foot. And of course plenty of bus passengers do not have access to cars. Preventing the dogs from taking the bus could lead to welfare issues and that’s something that no one wants.

So, yes, dogs taking the bus probably has to stay. I agree with that much. Sadly, I can’t agree with their carriage being encouraged. And that seems to be exactly what Trent Barton have attempted to do. Previously, dogs have been charged at the half fare, but as of Sunday, they will now be charged at 50p, regardless of journey length.

Buses are for carrying people, and it should be the customer that comes first, something that Trent Barton always seems to pioneer. This move does seem to go against this. Perhaps it is due to so many drivers not charging at all, and they’re hoping this promotion will reclaim earnings lost that way. Hopefully this move won’t result in a large increase in the number of dogs being carried, which, I believe, will worsen the experience for those passengers paying considerably more than 50p for their journey.

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