DUBAI // Metro inspectors are fining almost 100 men a day for entering women-only coaches, making it the penalty most commonly incurred by passengers, trumping sneaking into gold class, chewing gum or drinking water.
Since March, the Roads and Transport Authority has warned commuters that men will face a Dh100 fine if they intrude into the women and children space on the trains.
Large pink signs inside coaches and on platforms clearly mark out the area, although this has not stopped many men from boarding.
“Still 98 fines are issued per day for the women and children coach,” said Mohammed Al Mudharreb, director of rail operations.
“After March 1 this year it has been noticed the most common offence committed is the wrong use of this coach. Before the most common offence was cheating or violation of the class sections.”
A door separates the gold and silver classes on the metro, with commuters paying double the fare for bigger and more comfortable seats.
Although, the women’s section is not physically separated, three months ago signs were put up cautioning travellers: “You are entering the women and children cabin”.
Inside on the coach door and walls are more pink signs along with symbols of a woman and child warning: “This area is dedicated for women & children only”, and “Are you in the right cabin? 100Aed fine for men in this cabin”.
The transport authority said it took the step to protect women’s privacy during their daily commute due to rising numbers of people using the rail network.
About 1.5 million passengers use public transport daily in Dubai, with 450,000 of those travelling by metro. That figure soars past half a million during holidays.
The women and children cabin was expanded in February, doubling the capacity to 30 seats with space for 140 women to stand.
“The RTA staff issues fines on the spot and explains about the fine appeal process,” Mr Al Mudharreb said.
Upset by the number of trespassers, some female metro passengers have asked for more rigorous implementation of the rules.
“It’s unfair that they come in when other coaches are full,” said Dana Saify, who counts an average of five men in the off-limit section during her commute.
“Men must respect the signs and leave if they enter by mistake. The women’s compartment is also crowded so it’s not right that they are standing so close to women.
“In some cultures it is allowed but here there are rules so why shouldn’t these rules be followed? There are fines for chewing gum and eating food, then this fine is for a good thing.”
Others called for leniency.
“I’m covered but it does not offend me as long as there is a lot of space in the coach,” said Hadeel Ghoneim, who travels with her toddler son.
“It’s a good initiative to have a section for women and kids because in the morning there are more women travelling than men. Women seem to prefer this transport and men like their cars.”
Haneen Saidani, a daily commuter, was against tourists being fined but demanded there be respect shown for ladies by men.
“Tourists don’t know rules and for some people it is their first time on the metro,” she said.
“I never find a seat in the women’s coach so I usually go to the other coaches. But when men are sitting and so many women are standing, they show no respect. The men pretend they are sleeping and don’t give women a chance to sit. This makes me mad – at least let women sit for half the journey.”
The cost of misbehaving on Dubai Metro:
Putting feet on seats
Eating and drinking in areas where eating and drinking are not allowed
Using an expired or invalid card
Spitting, littering or performing any act that would compromise the cleanliness of public transport facilities and services
Sleeping in passenger shelters or any place where sleeping is prohibited
Using a counterfeit card
Carrying hazardous items including weapons, sharp tools or inflammable materials
Damaging, vandalising or destroying equipment or seats
Misuse of emergency buttons.