A petition with more than 25,000 signatures has prompted GO Transit to loosen its rules around travelling with dogs.

Canines were previously only allowed on GO Transit vehicles when they were enclosed in carriers but starting on July 20 a pilot project will permit a maximum of two leashed dogs per rider on GO trains and UP Express trains, so long as it isn’t during rush hour.

The move comes after a rider launched a petition last August that asked that dogs be permitted on GO trains. The petition quickly amassed more than 25,000 signatures, causing Metrolinx to launch a review of its policies around animals.

“Following the petition, we did an extensive review of our policies on our system related to pets,” Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins told CP24 on Friday morning. “We listened to our customers, both dog lovers and those less inclined to want to share their space with canine-riders. We also reviewed other transit agency pet policies (locally and internationally) and their experience with dogs on transit.”

The pilot project will run until Oct. 15, at which point Metrolinx will make a decision on whether to make it permanent.

During the pilot, dogs will be allowed on board between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and again from 6:30 p.m. until the end of service. There will be no time restrictions on weekdays and holidays.

“More people are using transit regionally travelling across borders and we want to encourage more of that and make transit an easy and convenient choice,” Aikins said. “Our goal is to harmonize our practice across GO, UP and TTC and to encourage more ridership when our system isn’t as busy. And of course keep both beloved pets and our customers safe.”

According to Metrolinx, dogs will only be allowed on the lower level of trains and are not allowed to take up a seat.