Updated: Monday, 20th November 2017 @ 5:34pm

Battle against dogs' woof deal on Manchester’s Metrolink: Petition slams pooch prohibition on trams

Battle against dogs' woof deal on Manchester’s Metrolink: Petition slams pooch prohibition on trams

Exclusive by Jess Owen

Manchester’s dog lovers are putting pressure on Transport for Greater Manchester to lift the ban of dogs on the Metrolink.

The Campaign for Dogs on Manchester Trams was created on October 19 and already has more than 200 signatures calling for an end to the ban of dogs on trams. 

Despite there being no legislation from Parliament prohibiting dogs from travelling on public transport, section 48 of the Metrolink Conditions of Carriage and Passenger Regulations bans dogs on the service and the decision therefore falls to local by-laws.

Yet Metrolink have also said that the decision is out of their hands, as ruling-hand TfGM state dogs are not permitted.

Kirstie Beasley, 38, from Chorlton, created the petition. She said: “It is unclear at this time who is actually responsible for the ruling as everyone seems to be passing the buck.”

Those campaigning feel the ban inconveniences responsible dog owners and goes against efforts to encourage the use of public transport for the sake of the environment.

On their petition, the campaigners claim Metrolink say that if dogs were allowed on the tram it would turn into a ‘zoo’.

Phil Bradby, founder of the campaign and owner of a black Schnauzer, said: “We claim to be a nation of dog lovers yet we ban them in so many places.”

With the tram now servicing dog-rife areas such Chorlton and Didsbury, Mr Bradby feels that both Metrolink and dog-owners are going to lose out.

He said: “The ban means many unnecessary car trips and this means Metrolink are throwing away customers. It is a crazy financial decision.”

A seasoned commuter in Manchester and London, Mr Bradby also lamented the unusual stance Manchester’s public transport is taking. The busier London Underground service and many other transport services across the world, readily adopt a dog-friendly approach to its commuters.

Ms Beasley added: “I don't feel TfGM or Metrolink have the right to make such decisions. Dogs use buses, trains & even the London Underground without incident so what makes the Metrolink so special?

“This is a 'public' service so I thought the 'public' should have a voice on this & not just accept this as fait accompli.”

The Metrolink is due to expand its line to Sale Water Park – a dog haven.  A number of those petitioning feel businesses around Manchester would benefit from available Metrolink service for dog owners.

Ms Beasley said: “There are pet services that would benefit. The groomers, pet shops and dog lifestyle stores such as Betty & Butch & Barking Barbers to name just a couple. Not to mention pet rescue centers would also benefit from greater accessibility! Both the aforementioned businesses are in areas serviced by the Metrolink and both are losing out on potential customers.”

A number of political figures in Manchester have also stepped forward to offer their support for the campaign.

MP for South Manchester John Leech said: “I can see no reason why there should be a ban on dogs I would be happy to support the campaign and contact Metrolink.”

Sir Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council, also said that steps were being taken to address the issue.

He said: “I can confirm that the Metrolink Director has been asked to undertake a review of the current policy on the carriage of dogs in consultation with the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee. 

“The Committee is made up of elected representatives from the ten Greater Manchester Authorities

In response to Sir Bernstein’s comments, Mr Bradby has written to the Chair of the TfGM Committee and is currently awaiting reply.

He wrote: “Metrolink is supposed to be a public service and I know that dogs can travel on just about any form of public transport in the world so why does Manchester have to force dog owners into their cars or onto second rate services.”

Peter Cushing, Transport for Greater Manchester’s Metrolink Director, said: “The bye-law concerning the transportation of dogs on trams has existed since Metrolink began operating in 1992 and states that, with the exception of assistance dogs or any dog or cat being accompanied to the PDSA in Old Trafford, no animals are allowed on the network.

“This bye-law was introduced in the interests of passenger health and safety because Metrolink operates as a high-frequency, high-volume, unstaffed system and there is no representative available on board to assess the potential risk posed by animals.

“However, we are aware that some dog owners would like to travel with their pets and that a number of people have asked that we review this aspect of our operations.

“In response to this we will be reviewing the issue of the carriage of dogs on Metrolink with members of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee with a view to further assessing our position on this matter.”

For more information on the petition go to: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/greater-manchester-metrolink-network-and-transport-for-greater-manchester-remove-the-ban-of-dogs-on-greater-manchester-metrolink-trams-2

Picture courtesy of Sara Fasullo, with thanks.

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