The city's government has invited the public to comment until April 30 on a new draft of metro regulations, including a measure that would ban food and drinks from stations and trains, according to a website run by Shanghai's metro enthusiasts.
Several other large cities on the Chinese mainland, including Wuhan, Nanjing, Xi'an and Shenzhen, have implemented rules that impose fines as high as 200 yuan ($32.18) on passengers caught eating or drinking on the subway.
Shanghai's draft does not include a fine, which indicates that the subway operator wants to discourage the practice without causing a lot of hubbub, said Gu Xiaoming, a sociology professor at Fudan University.
"This is a smart move by the subway operator, because the primary goal is to make people abide by the rules rather than spark disputes and quarrels on the trains," Gu told the Global Times. "All regulations have a cost. The local government would have to send extra staff to patrol the trains to get evidence. Even if they have the evidence, it will cause a dispute if violators are unwilling to pay."
The issue of eating on the subway got some attention last week when a woman dumped a carton of noodles on another passenger's head during rush hour in Wuhan, Hubei Province, according to a report in the Chutian Metropolis Daily. The woman had gotten angry when the other passenger took her photograph to post online after she ignored complaints from other riders.
According to a local online survey as of 5 pm Sunday, 18.6 percent of 24,024 respondents supported a ban on food and drinks in the subway. About 36 percent supported a ban on begging and scavenging for recyclables, such as bottles and newspapers.
The draft would also increase penalties for other violations, such as fare dodging, which would carry a maximum punishment of police detention, according to the website of Shanghai's Metrofans Club.
Passengers could also be fined between five and 10 times the cost of the fare for fabricating ID cards or passes that allow some groups of people, such as senior citizens and the disabled, to ride for free. For the most serious violations, authorities could note the offense in a passenger's citywide credit record, which would damage their ability to obtain credit cards and mortgages, according to the site.
Under the draft regulations, passengers could face fines of less than 100 yuan for scavenging recyclables and taking bicycles, including the ones that fold up, onto the subway.
The city government has also asked for public input on the most pressing issue facing the metro system. Of the 9,171 people who responded online as of 5 pm Sunday, 51 percent wanted cheaper fares.