The new regulation of dos and don'ts for people using urban rail transit services, which was issued by the Ministry of Transport recently, may seem a no-brainer for anyone who is aware of some basic social etiquette. But its publication - and implementation starting April 1 next year - is timely and necessary given the rising number of complaints about uncivilized and sometimes unruly behavior on the subway and light rail services and the inefficiency in dealing with such problems because of the lack of national unified norms.

By the end of 2018, 35 cities in 24 provinces on the Chinese mainland had started running their own urban rail transit systems that altogether extended 5,300 kilometers, with 21.28 billion trips recorded annually. While those cities have enacted their own rules of conduct for passengers, they sometimes are too simplistic or even contradictory making the rules hard to enforce. For example, eating on subways is not allowed in Shanghai, but the rule is not legally binding, basically making any punishment for violating the ban impossible.

Now the national regulation explicitly puts such behavior as eating, littering, urinating, and graffitiing on the must-not-do list for passengers. Other offenses include smoking, forcing open train doors, lying on seats, making loud noises and using electronic instruments without headphones. Violators will be dealt with by relevant departments according to the law, the new regulation states, although no specific penalties have been listed, obviously giving local authorities free reign to work out their own punishments based on their actual conditions.

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