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Wuhan bans pets, eating on new subway

By Wang Xiaodong and Zhou Lihua (China Daily)

13:21, May 09, 2012

Residents of Wuhan are divided over a proposal by the city government to ban eating or taking pets on its first subway, which is scheduled to open by the end of the year.

Other behaviors that are deemed possibly damaging to the environment in subway stations or that could interfere with the subway's smooth operation are also banned, such as graffiti, begging or taking balloons onto the train, according to the proposal. It was made public on Monday by the Legislative Affairs Office of Wuhan, the largest city in Central China.

Violations can result in a fine of 50 yuan ($8) to 100 yuan, while serious violators, such as those who build inside subway stations without prior consent, may face fines of 100,000 yuan and criminal charges in extreme cases. Subway operators will also be fined, if they fail to respond to complaints of passengers.

"We learned from other cities at home and abroad with subway operation experience before making this regulation," said Zhang Gewen, an official of the city's legislative affairs office, which is in charge of formulating the regulation.

"For example, we intend to ban eating food onboard to prevent contamination on the train. Besides, some food, such as instant noodles, can produce a strong smell in the train, which is largely sealed."

Few cities in China impose fines on those who eat in the subway, with the exception of Hong Kong, which levies fines of up to HK$ 2,000 ($260) on violators.

In January, a video recording of a heated quarrel between several Hong Kong residents and a mother from Chinese mainland stirred much discussion on the Internet. The dispute occurred when Hong Kong residents complained about the woman's daughter eating on a subway train in Hong Kong.

In Nanjing, capital of East China's Jiangsu province, there are regulations forbidding eating in subways, but punishments are rarely given out because "we encourage the residents to follow the rules voluntarily," according to the hotline of Nanjing Subway.

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