Beijing subway

Beijing to slap hefty fine on subway passengers caught eating or drinking

Ban will also apply to platforms and subway lifts, and is due to take effect on March 10

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 February, 2014, 11:50am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 February, 2014, 11:53am

Subway passengers in Beijing will be fined up to 500 yuan (HK$635) if they are found eating or drinking during their commute, according to a new law proposed by traffic authorities in the Chinese capital.

The ban, which would also apply to eating and drinking on platforms and subway lifts, will take effect on March 10, Beijing News reported on Wednesday.

Subway commuters in Beijing, who have expressed highly divided opinions over the proposed ban in the past, have again found themselves at the centre of one of the capital’s most contentious issues.

Supporters cheered the news on Sina Weibo on Wednesday, and many said they had waited “too long” for the ban.

“I am all for it, and those who eat smelly food on the subway should be severely punished,” a microblogger wrote.

“I can’t agree more- someone once accidentally poured a cup of soy milk on my head,” another subway passenger wrote.

But critics of the ban said they desperately needed the time on subway to eat their breakfast or snack.

“I would usually have a few crackers on my way home – otherwise I would be starving by the time I have dinner,” a commuter said.

“What’s the harm of sipping from a bottle of water?” another asked.

Viral CCTV footage shows a Beijing subway car fill up instantly with commuters during the morning rush hour. 

Many wondered how the new ban would be enforced.

“Do you believe the enforcers will manage to squeeze themselves into a rush hour carriage?” one questioned.

Beijing is not alone in outlawing drinking and eating on subways. Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an and Shenzhen, among other major Chinese cities, all banned the practice, a move believed be in line with bringing their regulations closer to those of international cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore. 

In 2012, a verbal fight broke out between a group of mainland tourists and several Hongkongers in a MTR train after a local rider accused a mainland woman of allowing her child to eat instant noodles in the car they were travelling together in.

A MTR worker was later called who made the mainland mother apologise. The woman later explained to the MTR worker that she had not been aware of the ban.

A fierce debate resumed online after video clip of the incident was shared on YouTube.