Daphne Taylor is a Raging Granny with a bone to pick at B.C. Transit.
Over the past six months, Taylor and her colleague Fran Thoburn have collected hundreds of signatures on a petition to relax dog ridership rules on public transit.
“We both have dogs, and we don’t want to use our cars all the time,” said Taylor, holding her 12-year-old mixed terrier, Toby. Both Taylor and Thoburn are members of Victoria Raging Grannies, a social justice activist organization.
“We did some research and discovered there are several cities, including Calgary, Toronto and Seattle, and many countries in Europe that allow dogs on buses,” Taylor said
B.C. Transit’s current dog policy allows only “small fur-bearing or feathered pets contained in secure, clean, hand-held cages” on buses. Those cages must be small enough to fit on the owner’s lap, which Thoburn says is too restrictive for many seniors and for owners of large dogs.
“Besides the dog park on Dallas Road, there’s a great park for dogs in Esquimalt called High Rock, and it seems unfair to me I have to put my dog in a crate to ride the bus,” she said. “I use crutches when I walk.”
Seattle allows small dogs to ride with owners for free, but drivers charge a base fare for larger dogs. The Toronto Transit Commission allows leashed dogs on buses and subways, but only during off-peak hours. Calgary has no restrictions on ridership times as long as the dog remains on-leash.
So far, Taylor and Thoburn have collected more than 650 names on the petition ahead of their Sept. 16 presentation to the Victoria Regional Transit Commission. They hope to convince commissioners that muzzling and leashing dogs is adequate, and they stress bus drivers would be able to turn away dogs and their owners when buses are too full or for other safety concerns.
“We’ve been canvassing our own neighbourhoods as well as pet shops, and we’ve been amazed at the support,” Taylor said.
Saanich Coun. and VRTC chair Susan Brice said commissioners are always open to public ideas, but said staff would need to gather more information before any final decisions are made.
“Any ideas have to be examined in light of the greater good,” Brice said. “But if there is a petition like this, we’ll have to look at it and see what experiences there are in other cities.”
Taylor said other organizations have given up on relaxing dog ridership policies on B.C. Transit, but the Raging Grannies aren’t likely to roll over.
“I know Victoria’s a little bit old fashioned, but my MLA is a Green Party member, and I feel we need to be moving in that direction,” Taylor said. “This is an energy saver, we’re preventing vehicle emissions and it’s less expensive than driving.”
Thoburn will continue canvassing James Bay as well as a downtown Victoria pet store, while Taylor hopes to garner signatures in Cadboro Bay Village in the lead-up to their VRTC meeting.