Dog lovers across Greater Manchester have hit back at Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM)'s rule that bans dogs from Metrolink trams.
Dogs are allowed on trains and buses in Greater Manchester and on the London Underground, but have been banned from the Metrolink since the tram network launched in 1992.
The Metrolink does allow guide dogs accompanying blind persons and hearing dogs accompanying deaf persons.
READ MORE: We asked readers if dogs should be allowed on trams - and this is what they said
Following a 2015 campaign to allow a trial of allowing dogs on trams, backed by Lib Dem councillor Iain Roberts, TfGM carried out a public consultation and consulted passenger surveys.
The Transport for Greater Manchester Committee (TfGMC) agreed that non-assistance dogs would not be permitted to travel on the Metrolink, citing "key risks" that raised concern over the safety of passengers and welfare of dogs.
The Manchester Evening News asked residents across Greater Manchester what they think- and the majority said that if dogs are allowed on the London Underground, then they should also be allowed on Manchester trams.
Abbi Clare, 24, a purchasing manager based in Blackley, has a miniature dachshund named Rosie.
She said: "I am pro dogs on the tram.
"It would make life so much easier for so many people, and would encourage a greener lifestyle.
"For example, someone living in the city centre would be able to take their dog on the tram to enjoy a green space that they wouldn't normally go to, or would have to go to via car, such as Heaton Park.
"Personally, I would love to take Rosie into the city centre more often. The best way for me to get there is by tram.
"However, if I want to go into the city centre on the tram, I have to leave Rosie at home.
"People who are allergic to or frightened of dogs must be coping on the other forms of public transport already, so why is the tram any different?"
Abbi also called for finding ways to compromise, such as only allowing dogs on one tram carriage, so that people affected by dogs could travel in other carriages.
She added: "You can take most pets on the London Underground. Anything London can do, Manchester can do better."
Also disagreeing with the no-dogs rule is Rachel Farrar, founder of Rachel's Dog Club, a dog care company based in Manchester and Salford.
She explained: "My team and I completely agree that dogs should be allowed on the Metrolink. It's so silly that they're allowed on most public transport but not the trams.
"There are so many beautiful walking spots which people are missing out on with their dogs due to this rule.
"Sale Water Park has its own tram stop - this would be perfect for people without the luxury of a car or driving license to get to."
Meanwhile, Christine Chau, co-founder of Manchester-based luxury dog bedding company Charley Chau, explained how the no-dog rule impacts her as a city centre resident.
She said: "As a dog lover, I think it’s actually very unenlightened. The centre of Manchester doesn’t have huge amounts of green space.
"If I want to go on a lovely dog walk and take advantage of the open, big, green spaces that Manchester has to offer around the edges, I can’t do that unless I get in a car.
"It seems a real shame to me, in this day and age, when we’re trying to encourage people to think more sympathetically in terms of our impact on the environment, just to go for a dog walk, I have to get in my car and drive out of the city centre.
"The city’s already congested with traffic, so why push us all onto the road?"
Explaining how she finds the capital to be more dog-friendly than Manchester, Christine continued: "In London, you can take your dog on the Underground, that’s the quickest way to get around the city. London’s much more convenient for dog lovers than Manchester is.
“So I’d say, London, in terms of dog-friendliness, is streets ahead of Manchester, which is a real shame because Manchester has so much going on and it’s so much nicer than London in so many ways."
Christine also suggested that there could be ways to deal with the health and safety risks that dogs on the Metrolink may pose for people.
She added: "I think putting a can-do and problem-solving hat on is what we need, instead of putting a brick wall that says “there are health and safety issues”.
"If there are issues, well, London seems to have dealt with those. Lots of cities around the world seem to have dealt with them. Buses, taxis and trains seem to be able to deal with those health and safety issues.
"Why is TfGM not able to do the same?"
One woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said: "Dogs can go on buses and trains but not on our Manchester trams. But they can go on the London Underground?
"There is not even a compromise, for example, off peak time, travel in a close carry cage, or muzzled if not or a dog friendly carriage so people with allergies can stay away.
"This is archaic, they should at least trial allowing it."
One man, who asked not to be named, said: "I’m not a dog fanatic, but [the no-dog rule] seemed odd to me. I understand that if you’ve got an allergy, you’re affected by dogs.
"But I don’t understand the difference between a train carriage, a tram carriage and a bus. I’m not aware of any allergy issues being raised on those. You can take a dog on the London Underground, which, to me, is a much more enclosed environment than it is on the tram, bus or a train.
"I think there are ways around this sort of thing and maybe they can be changed if people think about it a little more."
Concerned about the idea of dogs travelling on the Metrolink is Diane Davies, 48, a social care officer from Bolton.
She said: “I totally understand why some people may need to take their dog on public transport but I would like a designated area to be available for them.
"My daughter has Autism and is terrified of dogs. If a dog got on a tram that we were travelling on, she would be hysterical and inconsolable and we would have to get off, regardless of where we were.
"The whole network would become another area that is off-limits to us, such as walking in the woods, playgrounds, beaches, etc."
A spokesperson for Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) said: ”Dogs are not permitted on the Metrolink system- apart from guide dogs for the blind or partially sighted or hearing dogs for deaf people.
“We appreciate this is an emotive matter and there are many dog lovers out there, but the issue was considered by Greater Manchester’s Transport Committee in 2015 and it was decided no changes would be made at that stage.
“There are no plans to revisit this issue at the current time.”
Get the latest headlines to your inbox with our newsletters.