Breckenridge Free Ride changes pet policy to allow all ‘well-behaved’ dogs as passengers |

Breckenridge Free Ride changes pet policy to allow all ‘well-behaved’ dogs as passengers

Roxana, left, and Sheldon spend time in an outside kennel on Friday, April 8, in Frisco. Dogs that are not service animals are now allowed on Breckenridge’s Free Ride bus system as long as they are licensed and leashed.
Jason Connolly/For the Summit Daily News

Breckenridge’s Free Ride system will now allow dogs of all kinds on buses.

Previous policy allowed for Americans with Disabilities Act qualified service animals and other “small, domestic animals” in a lap-sized container at the transit operator’s discretion. According to the memo sent to Breckenridge Town Council members, the “small, domestic animals” exception was written for travelers who may have come in from Denver, taken a shuttle to town and then needed transit to get them to their final destination with their small pet.

Now, all “well-behaved” dogs are welcome aboard Breckenridge Free Ride buses. Dogs must be licensed, leashed and sitting next to or under their handler’s feet. Dogs are not allowed on seats or in the bus aisle. Other pets are only permitted on board if they are kept inside a pet carrier. Matt Hulsey, assistant mobility director for the town, said he was excited to get the change started.

“We actually have a meeting with our drivers (Wednesday), just our normal monthly meeting, so we’ll talk to them about it. But we’re pretty much active now,” Hulsey said.

The Free Ride team will stock doggy bags in each bus to allow a dog owner to clean up an accident. During a brief discussion about the change on Tuesday, council members did not bring up any immediate concerns about allowing pet dogs on Free Ride buses. Others agreed that the change would potentially allow for less cars to be needed to travel through Breckenridge.

“With an update to our policy, the car can remain at home while ‘Fido’ tags along to our trailheads for hikes, dog parks, hanging out on Main Street, picking up the kids at school and doing many of the other exciting activities dogs do with their owners in our active, outdoor town,” the policy memo reads.

Summit Stage, which connects between towns in Summit County, already allows for dogs on their vehicles. At the April 12 Town Council meeting, Hulsey said that Summit Stage’s policy allowed for drivers to spend less time making sure each dog that boarded was for emotional support or had ADA service animal status.

“Service animals and well-behaved pet dogs are welcome. Dogs must be licensed, leashed, and sitting next to or under their owner’s feet,” Summit Stage’s policy reads. “Dogs are not allowed to sit on the seats or in the bus aisle. Other pets are only permitted on-board the bus if they are kept inside a pet carrier.”

The Federal Transit Administration, which provides financial and technical assistance to local public transit systems as well as safety measures, currently does not require local transit systems to allow pet animals. While they do adhere to ADA service animal requirements, the Federal Transit Administration lets local systems decide whether or not they should allow pets.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority — which connects communities like Glenwood Springs and Aspen — only allows service animals or pets that are in a pet carrier while riding the bus; Vail’s bus system also does not allow for pets. The San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation — which serves Telluride and surrounding communities — allows non-service dogs in carriers or on a leash. There, similar to Breckenridge’s new policy, pets cannot sit on the seats or lie in the aisle and must sit on the lap of their owner or lie at their feet.

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