Congress agreed to a new highway spending bill on Tuesday, and buried more than 800 pages into that measure is a provision that will make dog-owners and cat-owners who travel by train very happy: Amtrak will soon have to allow the animals on many more trains.
Under the new bill, Amtrak will expand a pilot program that devotes at least one car per train to passengers toting a dog or cat (in a required travel bag, of course).
Amtrak has already allowed pets on some rail lines, but never all. This past October, the rail service announced it would begin testing a program on its Northeast Regional and Downeaster lines. The program allows a dog or cat, in a carrying bag, and under a weight limit of 20 lbs. (including the bag), for a $25 fee. It launched the program after first successfully doing so in Illinois.
As The Huffington Post reported, past pet programs by Amtrak have had the restrictions that pets had to be "odorless and harmless," but there is no such language in the new bill. Perhaps that's an encouraging change for anyone with a particularly stinky dog.
Update: An earlier version of this story said that Amtrak would allow pets on all trains; an Amtrak spokesperson says Amtrak's interpretation of the bill is that Amtrak shall expand its pet program to many more trains, but not necessarily to all trains.