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April 1, 2013

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Metro plans eating, drinking ban, tougher penalties for fare evaders

SHANGHAI'S Metro operator plans to ban eating and drinking on Metro trains and platforms, and to toughen punishment of fare evaders, among other measures as part of a new Metro management regulation being drafted.

New punishment also is being proposed, such as possible short-term detention for fare evaders instead of fines alone.

City lawmakers say they welcome public opinions and suggestions on such controversial issues like passenger restrictions, including when, where and how to enforce such restrictions.

Current restrictions on crowded Line 3 have raised much public concern. Passengers complain that transportation capacity is falling short of rising passenger volumes and the restrictions don't help much.

The city Metro operator, Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, has long been asking riders not to eat on the subway but with little success.

"I think it's a funny, and even a contradictory requirement," said Jim Wang, a daily rider. "If the operator would like to ban the food and drink, why then allow food vending machines on the platforms?"

The proposal raised lots of interest online, with riders eager to know whether even bottled water would be banned.

Some say what's lacking is information on how violations would be punished.

Zhou Beihua, a member of the city's top political advisory body, said earlier that other big cities around the world, like New York and Singapore, ban eating on transit systems and fine violators.

In a poll on the most viewed Metro online forum,, riders indicated they would most like to see a change in security check policies at Metro stations, followed by enhanced punishment for fare evaders, and next, restrictions on food.

Security checks at the 200-plus local Metro station are not popular with many riders who are afraid of delays. But the operator and police call the checks the most effective way to ensure safety and keep dangerous articles off the trains.

Riders also wanted to know whether there will be any punishment for the operator for breakdowns that are the operator's responsibility.

Begging and collection of recyclables on the subways also are targeted. Waste collectors would be fined up to 100 yuan (US$16), according to the draft. Those begging usually are removed by police - no fines are planned.

The current management regulations, issued 10 years ago and subsequently amended, will be renewed this year, city lawmakers said. Locals can send in their suggestions by the end of this month at the official government website.


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