Sub­way rid­ers eat­ing de­spite new rule

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By WANG ZHENGHUA in Shang­hai wangzhenghua@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Some pas­sen­gers were ob­served eat­ing in Shang­hai’s sub­way cars on Thurs­day, the first work­ing day af­ter a mea­sure frown­ing on the prac­tice took ef­fect.

The Shang­hai Mu­nic­i­pal Trans­port and Port Au­thor­ity is ask­ing pas­sen­gers to avoid eat­ing while rid­ing, but also to re­frain from other be­hav­ior that could an­noy their fel­low trav­el­ers.

The new mea­sure cov­ers skat­ing in sta­tions, car­ry­ing su­per-size lug­gage, smok­ing and a host of other acts. It was ap­proved in De­cem­ber and took ef­fect on Jan 1.

Of all the topics, eat­ing was the most con­tro­ver­sial. Af­ter heated de­bate about whether a ban should be writ­ten into re­gional reg­u­la­tions, which carry the force of law and in­clude penal­ties, the au­thor­i­ties com­pro­mised.

As en­acted, the new rule asks pas­sen­gers to avoid eat­ing in train cars as a mat­ter of cour­tesy to oth­ers. It does not re­quire them to re­frain, nor is any penalty im­posed for non­com­pli­ance.

Eat­ing in­side sub­way sta­tions was not banned.

Sup­port­ers said that pas­sen­gers who eat on train cars an­noy oth­ers with un­wanted odors and make messes with spilled food or bev­er­ages.

Op­po­nents, by con­trast, said the fast pace of big cities squeezes peo­ple’s time and makes it hard to get a proper meal. Au­thor­i­ties should be more tol­er­ant of those who need to dine on the train, they said.

Na­tion­wide, cities such as Bei­jing, Guangzhou and Nan­jing have en­acted sim­i­lar rules to ban eat­ing in sub­way cars. Wuhan, cap­i­tal of Hubei prov­ince, is the only city so far to use a re­gional law to clamp down on the prac­tice.

In Shang­hai, a ran­dom sur­vey by China Daily on Thurs­day morn­ing found that peo­ple were largely un­aware of the new guide­line, though many said they were will­ing to abide by it.

Not ev­ery­one thought it was a good idea.

“So­ci­ety should be more tol­er­ant of those hav­ing to eat on the train,” said Wu Fangcheng, 27, an IT com­pany em­ployee who was hav­ing bread and milk in­side the Chang­shu Road sta­tion on Line 1.

He said he pre­ferred to spend more time sleep­ing in the morn­ing, even if that meant crunch­ing his time for break­fast. But the ar­range­ment is less than ideal.

“If pos­si­ble, who would not sit down with their loved ones to have a de­cent break­fast? It’s not com­fort­able to eat in a sway­ing train,” he said.

Another pas­sen­ger, who was hav­ing a sand­wich and yo­gurt on Line 7, said he was not aware of the rule but would like to fol­low it.

“The re­quest won’t cause much prob­lem for me. I usu­ally fin­ish my break­fast at the sta­tion in a very short time,” said the man, who de­clined to be iden­ti­fied.

Bert Quin­tens, a tourist from Bel­gium, said he doesn’t find eat­ing by fel­low pas­sen­gers of­fen­sive.

“In Bel­gium, eat­ing on pub­lic trans­porta­tion is also pro­hib­ited, but peo­ple keep ig­nor­ing the rule,” he said. “No­body would stop them, and it is very hard to do so. I think it is ac­cept­able as long as you don’t leave any garbage.”

A dis­patch op­er­a­tor at the Chang­shu Road sta­tion, sur­named Yang, said on Thurs­day that he will in­ter­vene to block some dis­cour­te­ous acts in the sub­way such as smok­ing or board­ing with a pet, but he will not step into a car to stop some­one from eat­ing.

WANG CHEN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Mea­sures that took ef­fect on Jan 1 seek to limit be­hav­ior on the Shang­hai sub­way sys­tem that could an­noy other pas­sen­gers.

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