Why dogs on Metrolink trams is a long time coming

For some people, the 1st August is Yorkshire Day, a celebration of all things to all Yorkshire folk. For example, its cultural tapestry, scenery and fine food. In Greater Manchester, it is observed by Saddleworth folk with festivals and white roses. It kicks off Saddleworth’s summertime events like the Rushcart Festival and (unofficially this year) the Yanks Weekend.

From Chadderton to Uppermill, it is two buses away. If you live in the Butler Green district of Chadderton, the tram to Oldham Mumps (every six minutes compared with every half hour on the 81) and a bus to Uppermill is the best option. 

With a dog, the tram option was off limits. Till now.

From today, for a three-month trial, you can take up to two dogs on to your tram. Apart from an earlier unsuccessful trial, pet dogs have been barred from Metrolink trams.

If it is made permanent after the trial, our canine friends will be able to enjoy the same freedoms afforded to fellow doggies on buses and trains.

As stated in TfGM’s press release, all doggies must be well behaved and no passenger can carry more than two dogs on board. Historically, dogs have travelled free of charge by rail. Till recently they could only be placed in the guard’s van. Doggies on trains were only one step up from livestock instead of a faithful friend.

To quote Jarvis Cocker, ‘dogs are everywhere’. A Springer Spaniel could be seen in the city centre as much as open countryside. Some people see doggies as surrogate children, in lieu of human beings and better behaved than children in the eyes of some passengers.

Why it will work this time

As well as parity with other modes of transport, the Metrolink network has a mix of operational characteristics. In central Manchester, it is your caring sharing form of urban transport, shifting crowds from Piccadilly Gardens to the Etihad Campus or Old Trafford. As you leave the centre, its operational characteristics are more akin to regional railways or local bus routes. In addition to being a good way of shifting 23,000 fans it is part of the community.

A lot of that’s to do with Metrolink’s roots in heavy rail. When the Oldham-Rochdale Loop Line section via Mumps played host to Pacers and Sprinters, dog owners might have started or finished part of their walk at Milnrow or Newhey. Whether travelling to Bury or Ashton-under-Lyne, it provides another travel choice for dog owners with pet dogs instead of assistance dogs or working dogs.

Where next for our canine friends on the tram?

Should the tram plan be permanent, there’s a chance it may incur a small fare as seen on our buses. What hasn’t been mentioned in relation to our future franchised bus network and the greater Bee Network is a standard dog fare. At present, Stagecoach Manchester do a doggie day saver ticket for a £1.00 which gives your pooch the freedom of Stagecoach’s buses in our city region. Some drivers let our furry friends on for nothing. On the train it is free of charge with the owner.

As with buses and trains, doggies wont be able to occupy a seat. They might have to stand beside us or sit on our knees. In future years there could be water bottle dispensers at tram stops, enabling our person and their dog or two to have fresh water. If we continue to have heatwaves like this year’s, we might have to warn passengers not to bring their dog on board (platform surfaces can be hot for their little paws).

And finally…

Here’s a bit of whimsy courtesy of my YouTube channel. I suppose you could say this is a rough cut (let’s face it: we don’t have access to Strawberry Studios).

Before I go, here’s your chance to take the lead on this subject. Do you think dogs on trams are a great idea, or is it the worst thing since unsliced bread? Feel free to comment on this subject.

S.V., 01 August 2022.

One thought on “Dogs on Trams: Yappy Days Indeed

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