Cable Pet Transit

Post by Nicholas Chu

Image by Flickr user wendyhespe.

A recent conversation with guest contributor Ross Edgar brought up an interesting topic that’s yet to be discussed on the Gondola Project: cable cars and pets.

This is a little surprising to us, especially since we ourselves have Joy, our very own office hound who’s been aboard countless gondola trips.

In the US alone, the pet industry is worth an estimated $55 billion where 2/3 of households own some sort of pet. And in the developing world pet ownership levels are now reaching new heights. The Chinese and Brazilian market for example, has grown by 28% and 17% respectively in the past couple of years.

So while our furry companions are quickly becoming an integral part of our lives in more and more countries, it appears the policy regime that regulates their ability to ride cable lifts remains largely inconsistent.

Logically one might expect dog-friendly nations (i.e. UK, Canada, USA and etc.) to have more predictable standards for pets, but a quick google search appears to indicate otherwise.

Pet Friendly cabin on Telluride/Mountain Village Gondola. Image by Flickr user Mary Dawn DeBriae.

For example, despite the UK being recognized as one of the world’s dog-friendliness nations, this country has drastically varying CPT pet policies.

As Ross can tell you, dogs are not permitted to ride the Cairngorm Mountain Railway. But if he visited the Heights of Abraham or Nevis Range Gondola, his canine companion would be welcomed with open arms. And if he travelled to London to ride the Emirates Air Line, staff members may or may not allow the animal to board based on their discretion.

These inconsistent pet policies are not limited to Great Britain and appears to be similar throughout the developed world. In North America, the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, Sea to Sky Gondola and Squaw Valley Aerial Aerial Tram permit pets while the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and Portland Aerial Tram forbids them.

So why is there this inconsistent policy towards our four-legged friends? Do people have a right to bring their pets with them? Or is the ultimate decision best left for system operators?

As a former pet owner, I am torn between the two and see the merits and disadvantages from both sides.

But what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your views on this.

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Want more? Purchase Cable Car Confidential: The Essential Guide to Cable Cars, Urban Gondolas & Cable Propelled Transit and start learning about the world's fastest growing transportation technologies.


  1. Dogs are annoying in public transit. In rush hour thevrisk someone steps on a dogs tail is quite high. If it rains dogs can be very smelly and many people are scared of dogs. Some people are allergic to dogs. Unfortunately a lot oft dogs are not proper trained. As long as the gondola has small cabins which means a family has its own. dogs could be allowed. But for heavily used transit systems they cause to much troubles I only would allow guide dogs for the blind.
  2. The issue for me with the Cairngorm Mountain Railway was not so much that I wanted to take my dog on the funicular but more that I did not want to leave her in the car on a blazing hot, sunny day. The logic of Cairngorm Mountain Railway was that at the top of the funicular is a nature area, where people, never mind dogs, are not permitted to roam. Fine. But I had no intention of letting her run around or even of taking her for a walk. I just wanted my dog with me rather than asphyxiating in a hot car. A lot of people arrived that day never even considering the fact that a dog would not be allowed on a mountain funicular. While I left in disgust without even using the funicular, many people did leave their dogs in boiling hot cars to use the funicular. Granted this is irresponsible on the part of the dog owners but I do believe some responsibility lies with Cairngorm Mountain Railway. As for urban public transit there are pros and cons (as stated by Matthias). In my case, I have a German Shepherd so after my wife and I are aboard with the dog there isn't much room in a gondola cabin for anyone else. If someone did deign to enter 'her' cabin I think they would exit fairly promptly...
  3. @ Matthias and Ross I agree from both these perspectives. And I think a big part of this issue lies with the pet owners. For the systems that don't allow dogs, I can imagine that it's probably because there were a few irresponsible owners... which then you know, one bad apple spoils the bunch. Perhaps the answer lies in the Swiss method of dealing with this -- pet owners must go through training before they are allowed to own a dog! Hence, why it seems that many systems there do allow dogs onboard.
  4. Matt the Engineer
    Seattle buses allow dogs, and if your dog is large enough you pay for an extra fare. I don't see why that would be a bad policy for gondolas. I noticed strange pricing on the Sea to Sky gondola: season passes are offered for dogs ($25/yr), but it says "download only" - in other words you have to hike up every time with your dog. There's no listing for a day pass for your dog, up or down. I didn't ask about this policy, other than asking what it was for ("so your dog can ride down" duh). But it raises so many questions - is there really a strong market for people that want to hike up the mountain many times throughout the year with their dog? I'd probably prefer riding up and hiking down, but maybe I'm just lazy. Why no day pass? Why on earth wouldn't they allow dogs to ride up if they allow them to ride down? Of course there may be more policy than was written on the sign.
  5. Matt the Engineer
    Thinking this through further, maybe I do understand the policy. Maybe this is designed to very strongly discourage taking your dog without straight outlawing it. When Ross shows up with his pup, instead of turning him away they can tell him he can take his dog up if he pays an extra $25 and climbs the mountain. That's better than nothing.
  6. @ Matt: This does sound like a very strange policy but your logic on the reasoning seems plausible to me. I can understand this on an urban transit system for all the reasons that Matthias mentioned but it seems a little strange for an extra-urban gondola. On somewhat of a tangent but still on topic, I visited Austria a couple of years ago with two dogs and stayed in Alpendorf (south of Salzburg). It turns out that the buses in the area had a policy of only allowing dogs on the buses if they were muzzled. However, this wasn't particularly well advertised and it wasn't helped by the fact that a number of drivers had allowed us to use the buses (presumably in good will) without the dogs being muzzled, which of course perpetuated our ignorance. One day we travelled a particularly long distance from where we were staying by bus (no muzzles) without any problem. However, on the return leg the driver refused to allow us on the bus with unmuzzled dogs. This effectively stranded us about an hour's drive from where we were staying. A quick visit to the local tourist office and a few telephone conversations later and we were allowed to travel on the next bus! In this instance the policy wasn't the issue but rather the enforcement. If the out-going driver hadn't (again, presumably kindly) allowed us to travel, we wouldn't have been stranded and we could have bought some muzzles and taken the next bus.
  7. @ Ross Edgar Unfortunately dogs do considerable harm to the wildlife. So there could be pressure on the operators to deny the transport of dogs. Of course such a policy should be clearly communicated so that people with dogs do not have to go there to find out. Leaving the dog in a locked car is no alternative and its illegal in some countries. This weekend i had an unpleasant encounter with to dogs as the dogs startet to fight in a Tram. The Cobra tram is walktrough and over 30m in length so the dogs could be separated. Imagine dogs start to fight in a gondola. There is not enough space to separate them and the ride goes on several minutes. Now todays policy makers always think of the worst case. Its not just public transit but also hotels are more strict now. Bad thing is that the ones which are competent dog owners need to suffer too. IMHO no dog policy should only apply on weekends as on weekdays there is enough capacity to handle dogs. I live in Switzerland and her most dogs are not well trained at all.There are to many owners which are not able to control their dogs. And there are owners which let theirs dogs run just next to playgrounds despite a dozen of signs which state it is illegal.
  8. David Russell
    The dogs are prohibited on the Palm Springs Aerial tram because the upper terminus is in the magnificent protected wilderness of California's San Jacinto State Park, which (exactly matching USA National Parks) prohibits all dogs. Of course, the problem with dogs is almost always with unskilled or arrogant or stupid owners rather than with their dogs. As Swiss Matthias relates in the thread, even in Switzerland where owner training is required, "most dogs are not well trained at all. There are too many owners which are not able to control their dogs." david

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