MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — A new base bus equipped with a separate carrying compartment for pets is about to hit the road.

But Fido can’t hitch a ride just anywhere.

The bus will take pets and their owners to and from Tokyo at the outset or tail end of an assignment to Misawa.

Pet owners were left with few — and costly — options in shuttling their pets from Narita airport in Tokyo to northern Japan, or vice versa, when the Patriot Express flight pulled out of Misawa last fall.

Information Tickets and Tours identified the need, parlaying it into funding for a new bus that it also plans to use for its local tours of Japan, said Monika Mulrooney, ITT manager.

Funding for the $310,000 bus came from the 35th Fighter Wing, officials said.

The bus has 41 seats, ample leg room and three televisions. Pets ride in a separate compartment, with heat and air-conditioning, under the bus cabin to protect passengers with allergies.

It will be used for the weekly Narita shuttle, whenever pets need to be transported. Otherwise, an older bus will make the trip, Mulrooney said.

The shuttle will stop at Narita airport and Yokota Air Base outside of Tokyo. The Yokota stop replaces one at the New Sanno, since more Misawa residents are trying to catch the Patriot Express out of Yokota, she said.

The pet bus already has its first reservation: “A captain in the States with two dogs coming in June,” Mulrooney said.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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