More drink-and-eat riders

July 4, 2009
More drink-and-eat riders <!–10 min–>

One SMRT officer says he catches offenders at least five times a day



By Maria Almenoar
Eating and drinking are not allowed in MRT stations and on trains, but these passengers do not seem to care. — PHOTOS: STOMP

COMMUTERS are caught munching or sipping at drinks at the Orchard MRT station at least five times a day. Curry puffs, biscuits and soft drinks in plastic cups are the snacks of choice in the no-eating, no-drinking zones that are MRT stations.

‘Their favourite excuse is that they rushing somewhere and this was their dinner,’ said Mr Ng Chee Siang, an SMRT officer of two years who does a patrol every hour.

The majority of commuters are apologetic when caught, and stop eating or drinking immediately. They are let off with a warning.

Then there are the recalcitrant.

Said Mr Ng, 34: ‘One student was blatantly eating a burger on the train and when I told him to stop, he said ‘Just fine me, I don’t care’.’

The fine is usually $30, even for repeat offenders. If the case goes to court, the offender may be fined up to $500. But the patrols to catch commuters in the act and the fines do not seem to be licking the problem.

Last year, 626 commuters were fined for eating and drinking, more than double the 280 in 2006. In 2007, 548 people were fined.

SMRT, which runs the trains of the North-South, East-West and Circle lines, could not say with certainty why more commuters were getting fined.

But a spokesman for SBS Transit, which runs the North-east Line, said: ‘It must be noted that train ridership has also increased, which could explain why more commuters are caught flouting this regulation.’ SBS Transit has also seen a jump in the number of offenders. It handed out 10 offence notices in 2007, and 34 last year.

To deal with the masses traversing the stations daily, the two operators have put more than 500 staff on patrol to root out those who flout any of the other rules – not just those on eating and drinking.


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