By Amna Al Haddad www.thenational.ae
DUBAI // It has been almost 21 months since Dubai Metro began operation and some passengers are still fuzzy on the rules, despite campaigns by authorities to keep them informed.
Does the ban on food include gum? Does it include baby food? And is it OK to run to catch a train?
These are among the questions that passengers say require clear answers.
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) provides pamphlets explaining the rules and fines at every ticket counter, and there are information boards at every station.
Tania Gupta, a 22-year-old Indian passenger, said some of her colleagues had been fined for running to catch a train. “I really don’t understand why running should be fined, especially if someone is in a hurry to make it to the train.”
The RTA brochures do not mention running on the platform, and neither do the information boards.
Ms Gupta believes clear rules are required: “Perhaps the public announcement systems could highlight the key rules and regulations for using the metro.”
Saleha Irfan, a 23-year-old metro user from Pakistan, knows that eating or drinking on the metro carries a Dh100 fine, and sees the sense in the ruling.
“For the most part it is fair since it keeps the metro clean and hygienic,” said Ms Irfan. “But I think it should be relaxed in certain contexts.”
She says she once saw an attendant tell a mother to stop feeding her baby. “The mother said to the metro attendant, ‘But she’s just a baby,’ and the attendant forced her to put the food away.”
“If you are an adult you can control your hunger to an extent, but how do you explain this to babies? It is very extreme.”
Ms Irfan also believes drinking water in the summer is necessary and should be allowed. “With it being so hot outside, people need water,” she said. “You really can’t help it, even if you are sitting in an air-conditioned room.”
One passenger from Yemen said he was fined for chewing gum. “I don’t mind abiding by the regulations as long as they are clearly defined.”
He said chewing gum was not explicitly banned. “It is a grey area. The sign said food and drink not allowed but nothing there about chewing gum, which is not the same as eating food,” he said.
He said he decided to pay the fine without making a scene to save himself from “further public embarrassment”.
Naima, a 22-year-old from the United States, said she knew the rules but ignored them.
“I was on the Metro eating Skittles when the lady came and said it was not allowed,” she said. “I poured them all in my hand and stuffed them in my mouth.”
“I did know, but I just wasn’t bothered, so I felt like it wasn’t a big deal. Luckily I didn’t get fined.”
Officials at the RTA were not available for comment.
A guide to metro etiquette:
Dubai Metro attendants don’t let passengers off the hook for not knowing the rules, which include the following:
• Passengers can be fined Dh100 if they eat or drink; put their feet up on a seat; bring an animal on to the train (except a guide dog); or cause inconvenience, discomfort or distress to other passengers.
• Passengers can be fined Dh200 if they travel without a valid ticket; spit; throw litter; create a visible stain; smoke; or carry alcohol.
• Passengers can be fined Dh300 if they sleep in the waiting areas, shelters or any other Metro area.
• Passengers can be fined Dh2,000 if they use any security and safety device, including an emergency exit, when it is not required.
Amna Al Haddad