Bella appears to be hitching a ride to Parksville given the current transit policy prohibiting dogs on buses

Bella appears to be hitching a ride to Parksville given the current transit policy prohibiting dogs on buses

Pondering dogs on buses in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Regional District of Nanaimo officials are looking at the possibility of allowing pets on transit buses

Who let the dogs on?

Transit officials at the Regional District of Nanaimo are looking at allowing dogs, and other small animals, on public transportation affecting the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.

This comes in the wake of a survey in the capital city, conducted by the Victoria Regional Transit System (VRTS), that is asking bus riders if they are open to the idea of allowing pets on board, and if so, under what circumstances.

Dennis Trudeau said the outcome of Victoria’s survey will influence the RDN’s decision whether to look into it or not and the regional district is keeping a close eye on their findings.

“Depending on the results of their investigations our board might also be interested,” said Trudeau, RDN general manager of transportation and solid waste services.

“I can’t say whether we are for or against it,” he said. “There are concerns on both sides.”

Trudeau told The NEWS pet-owners have requested animals be allowed on buses.

“People who have pets need to sometimes get them to vet visits, or something like that, and they might not have vehicles,” he explained. “Transit is an important component in their ability to have pets which is important.”

On the other hand, he noted many bus-riders have allergies to animals which causes concern.

Trudeau said they would need to “strike a balance.”

He said the current transit policy related to animals in Nanaimo is the same as in Victoria: service dogs are permitted, as well as other small animals if they are kept in carriers or on the passenger’s lap.

According to Daniel Pearce, the RDN’s manager of transit operations, Calgary and Toronto have transit systems which allow leashed-dogs on buses and subways.

He said there would likely be a cost associated with allowing dogs on public transit directed at the pet owner, something the survey is looking into.

“The survey is examining making sure there is no net cost to the tax payer,” said Pearce, noting that this is all in the very early stages.

He said the survey will look into options for regulations such as dogs having to be kept on leashes, wearing a muzzle and only be permitted to ride the bus during certain hours of the day.

Pearce said the study will be finished in the next few weeks and the results will play a big part in deciding whether the RDN will conduct a similar survey for the mid-Island area.