Metro North loves dogs; train station cabbies don't

Dogs smiling in the back of a New York City Taxi

Metro North has long been the lone dog-savvy outpost in the generally dog-hostile American train world. We took our 75-pound shepherd mix Jolly on the commuter train to Westchester and this past weekend the beagles happily rode their train. The biggest problem is getting to and from Grand Central; Westchester County cab drivers adamantly refused to take dogs.

The only question we got from a Metro-North worker was whether he could take Moxie and Huck’s picture. Dogs can ride without carrier. If you do have a carrier or luggage, you can get to any of the Metro North tracks by huge ramps. On the way up to White Plains, we got the ideal: a handicapped section seat. The beagles chewed treats on the floor out of everyone’s way. On the way back, we went in a handicapped door, but there was no big floor area. But they just lied on the floor, resting their heads either on my feet or each other. They got lots of smiles and compliments. One woman said seeing the beagles on the train made her day.

If only cab drivers would be so reasonable. On the way there, two cabs refused us. One stopped and was fine, so we paid him double the fare and a 50% tip. They sat quietly on the floor.

We chose White Plains because it had regular express trains and an Avis a mile away. We just wanted to avoid the friction and hassle of renting a car in Manhattan. Both prices and wait times are ludicrous and you have to cross in and out of the city. Plus, the local Avis is nasty to dog owners. We always use a seat cover and vacuum the car at a gas station before we return it, but they remind us that they can charge us $200 “if we find a single dog hair.” They’ve done it, too. The rest of the crap people leave in a car is fine, but a dog hair is a magic pollutant.

The cab drivers at White Plains acted like we were asking them to take biological weapons, not two well-mannered beagles, on a ONE MILE to Avis. Mind you, I’m seven months pregnant and, I think, a pretty sympathetic customer. My husband took a cab, got lost and took an hour to get back. Should we have been more aggressive with offering a tip/bribe? The Avis office said they’d pick us up–if they had someone available. When we left Grand Central we just offered the reluctant cabbie an extra $20–and it worked.

Some tips for taking a train to rent a car outside Manhattan:

Take MetroNorth to Stamford, CT. We took Jolly here to rent a car to New England. The agency is right in the station, making it so easy.

Metro North does have a deal with Enterprise to pick you up at many stations on each of the lines.

ZipCar has a deal with NJTransit to keep cars at their stations, but it’s only a handful–Liberty State Park, Montclair, Morristown, Metropark and Princeton Junction. But when I checked, they were completely out of cars for the weekend at all of them. (And in the city, they offered cars mainly in the sucky $142-$182/day range, making me want to quit ZipCar.)

Take a PATH train to the Newport Centre Mall in Jersey City, which has an Avis and Dollar (their prices on travel websites are often illusory). Or take the PATH to Penn Station Newark, where Mall

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2 comments to Metro North loves dogs; train station cabbies don’t

  • Bootes

    There’s a Hertz at the New Rochelle Metro North/Amtrak station. There’s also Avis at the Shell station right by the Scarsdale station. Lots of express trains and easily walkable.

  • Adam

    Try taking the Harlem line to North White Plains (30 min express from GCT) there’s a Hertz location right across the street – easy, half the price of Manhattan, and they’ve always been friendly to us (and our Westie)