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January 3, 2014

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New regulation on eating, drinking on Metro fails to make an impact

A NON-BINDING regulation, that came into effect at the start of the year, did not deter commuters from eating and drinking on the Metro with some riders insisting that it would prove difficult to implement.

The Shanghai Metro Passenger Regulation lists a dos and dont’s but it is not backed by law or carries fines or penalties, unlike the Shanghai Metro Traffic Operation Regulation, which also came into effect on the same day.

On the first working day yesterday, commuters could be seen having fast food, instant noodles and other snacks inside the carriages. While smoking and ticket evading incurs penalties, proposed ban on eating and drinking on Metros have split public opinion.

Lawmakers dropped plans to incorporate them into the Shanghai Metro Traffic Operation Regulation, citing lack of overwhelming support.

“I’m aware of the eating ban, and I’ve been following the regulation since the end of last year,” said a regular Metro user Wang Suhan.

“I now pack my half-eaten breakfast before getting into the train and only start eating when I get off.

“However, personally I don’t agree with the ban. What if passengers are hungry and need a bite?” Wang asked.

The Metro operator has not arranged for extra staff to stop commuters from eating in the train, and neither will the security stop commuters from taking eatables into the stations.

“Most passengers have been cooperative when they are asked by our staff not to eat in the trains,” said Li Ping, head of Zhongshan Park Station on Line 3.

“The regulation is good because on certain occasions I was bothered by the strong smell of food,” an American commuter, who only gave his name as Michael, said yesterday.

“But it should not be made compulsory as we already have too many laws and rules. It really depends on the passengers themselves.”

His views were shared by another commuter Rebecca who is from Sweden. “I don’t mind the regulation, but I also think it is people’s right to eat or drink. What they should not do is dirty the carriage with waste and litter,” she said.

Coaxing people not to eat seems to be the only way out.

“Passengers who are affected can try and convince others not to eat. They can report to Metro staff if the persuasion does not work,” said the head of People’s Square Metro station, who also felt that drinking water or eating in special cases should be allowed.

Among the other non-binding rules include loud talking and baggage restrictions — not heavier than 23kg and not larger than a 0.2m x 1.7m.

Under the new Shanghai Metro Traffic Operation Regulation, ticket evaders will be fined 75 yuan (US$12.4). Those using senior citizen cards or fake certificates will be fined 10 times the highest ticket price, which is 15 yuan. Those caught smoking, urinating and begging face a maximum fine of 500 yuan (US$81.67).

Intercepting a train, getting onto the tracks, tunnels or other restricted areas, jumping over barriers, handrails and turnstile, getting on or off the trains by force will also incur stiff penalties.

The Metro network set a new record on the last day of 2013, ferrying 8.898 million passengers for the year-end celebrations.



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