The MTR Corporation is planning on relaxing some of its older by-laws, some which include banning filming with mobile phones, or not letting passengers swear when they’re on the train.
Sources said the railway operator’s plans are aimed at updating or getting rid of really old, pointless rules to keep up with the times and “address the reality” as trains become more crowded.
At the same time, the MTR wants to keep its ban on eating, drinking and carrying big pieces of luggage on trains, although exceptions will be made in special cases for passengers who really need to hydrate while commuting.
The city’s biggest public transport operator is planning on submitting a paper to the Legislative Council soon describing its planned changes.
The railway firm has not looked at its by-laws since they were combined with those of the former Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation when the two companies merged in 2007.
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The MTR recorded 2,643 prosecutions over by-law violations in 2015, up from 1,030 in 2014. An MTR spokesman said a breakdown of statistics was not immediately available to show how many passengers were prosecuted for abusive language, but recalled there were “not many” such cases every year.
Oscar Fung Man-joy, 15, an Evangel College student and YP cadet, agrees with the proposed changes. “The MTR system isn’t separate from the rest of the city, and we still have access to our basic rights. I agree that there the rules should be relaxed in regards to swearing, and we should be allowed to film inside the MTR,” Oscar added. “It doesn’t really bother anyone, unless someone actually says they’re bothered. Oversized luggage should remain banned, because they take up a lot of space and are really annoying, especially during rush hour.”
Junior reporter Ally Chan Wing-yin, 15, a Baptist Lui Ming Choi Secondary School student disagrees. “There are laws that say people shouldn’t be allowed to swear in public places anyway, why should the MTR be any different? I get that people swear but that doesn’t give you the right to do it in public. What if children hear you? That might upset or affect them negatively,” she said.
She also thinks filming in stations should remain banned. “While it’s good for YouTubers and vloggers to be able to do it, filming on the MTR can lead to cyberbullying. Netizens like to film others when they’re behaving poorly, and then they’ll post it online. That can lead to abusive comments and can ruin the lives of the people being filmed.”
YP cadet Heather Ng Xin-yi, 17, also disagrees with the MTR proposals. “Many people, especially teenagers, would take advantage of the swearing rule being removed and swear a lot,” the YMCA of Young Hong Kong Christian College student said. “That would make other MTR users feel uncomfortable. I understand that we’re trying to keep up with all the latest technology changes, but filming other people is an invasion of their privacy.” Heather added that she agrees with the ban on food and drink being consumed on the MTR, but that she thinks the rules on big pieces of luggage should be relaxed.
“Everyone has the right to use any form of transportation. What they are allowed to take onto the MTR shouldn’t be an issue.”