The ACT Greens want ACTION buses to trial allowing passengers to travel with their pets.
ACT Greens spokesperson for Active Transport, Caroline Le Couteur MLA and Outgoing ACT RSPCA CEO, Tammy Ven Dange, held a joint media conference yesterday (3 May) to support the change.
At the media event at the RSPCA in Weston, there was a demonstration of how cats, dogs and chickens would travel in pet carriers during a potential trial.
The intention is to bring ACTION buses in line with recently introduced ACT legislation to allow pets on light rail.
We are LIVE from RSPCA ACT in Weston Creek with Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur Member for Murrumbidgee and RSPCA CEO Tammy Ven Dange who are sharing their thoughts on why they have called for a trial to allow pets to travel on ACTION buses.
Posted by The RiotACT on Wednesday, 2 May 2018
ACT Greens spokesperson for Active Transport, Caroline Le Couteur, said, “Our public transport system should serve the needs of the public. As most Canberrans do own a pet of some kind, it must be as convenient and accessible as possible to travel with them.”
Currently, Canberrans cannot take animals onto a bus without permission, with exemptions in place for assistance animals or guide dogs.
ACT RSPCA CEO, Tammy Ven Dange, said, “There are some great examples around the world about how people and animals can be transported on the same sort of transport, without any kind of issues for the animals or humans.”
In March, Wellington Council (NZ) decided that any animal that could be considered a domestic pet would be allowed on off-peak services for free – provided they were in a suitable carrier that could fit in the luggage areas or on the owner’s lap.
Taking this into account, as part of the trial proposed by the ACT Greens, domestic animals would be allowed on ACTION buses as long as they were secured in an appropriate carrier and there was no impact on the safety and comfort of other passengers or the driver.
“Canberrans can travel with their pets on light rail. The Government should look to close this obvious gap,” Ms Le Couteur said.
“From an environmental perspective, it’s also important that we do all we can to encourage more Canberrans to shift away from car use.”
In late 2014, the Transport and City Services Directorate conducted public consultation on a proposed code allowing pets to travel on public transport. The recommendations of the consultation showed strong community support for the proposed changes.
But not all Canberran’s are in favour with Canberra disability advocate, Christina Ryan, calling for the trial to be abandoned, stating that it is hard enough for people with electric wheelchairs to currently navigate buses without having to deal with a menagerie of animals as well.
RSPCA CEO, Tammy Ven Dange, didn’t see this as a problem.
“There are two entries on buses and there is a practical way to manage this for everyone,” Ms Ven Denge said.
Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur said there were also benefits for older Canberrans.
“Older members of the community often rely on public transport, and pets can be helpful for a person’s mental and physical health, particularly as we get older. We need to assist in making it as practical as possible if a person needs to take their dog to the vet, or would like to take them to the local dog park in a nearby suburb,” Ms Le Couteur said.
Animal Medicines Australia Executive Director, Ben Stapley, welcomed the ACT Government’s introduction of legislation to allow pets on light rail and the ACT Greens’ proposal to extend this to ACTION buses, but wants the ACT Government to go further.
He said that ‘strata and rental laws should also be structured to encourage pet ownership, so the many health benefits of ownership can be realised’.
He also advocated for the right for people to take their pets to work.
“Walking the dog to the bus to get to work can only benefit a health system that is already under pressure from having to deal with lifestyle diseases because of inactivity,” Mr Stapley said.
MLA Le Couteur said there were complex issues with pets in apartments but was supportive of Canberrans being able to take their pets to work … stay tuned.
Do you think Canberrans should be able to take their pets on ACTION buses and light rail?