Bus shelters have prominently displayed posters to let commuters know about acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, but few people bother to read them. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: A regular commuter in Dubai was shocked when she was penalised by an inspector from Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) for chewing gum inside a bus stop.

According to RTA rules and regulations, eating, drinking and smoking inside RTA’s air-conditioned bus shelters is an offence that attracts a Dh100 fine when caught.

It is common knowledge that eating, drinking and smoking inside public transport buses and trains is prohibited, however, most commuters are unaware of a similar ban in bus shelters.

“I have been using public transport for six years and I usually chew gum as a habit. I never thought that even chewing gum could attract a fine. I know it is not allowed in the bus and on the Metro, but I didn’t know there is an eating ban in the bus shelters and I am not sure if chewing gum amounts to eating,” said Ann, a Filipina saleswoman who got penalised.

What put off Ann more than the fine was the way the inspector allegedly behaved with her and some of the others who were eating inside the bus stop in Satwa on Tuesday afternoon.

“The way he came and spoke to me was shocking. I felt like I am a criminal, it was really humiliating. The inspectors should show some respect to people. I was more put off by the way he treated a young mother who was eating because she needed energy to suckle her baby. She pleaded and informed him about her situation but he wouldn’t listen. They should at least have shown some humanitarian considerations,” Ann added.

Gulf News visited the bus stop located opposite Satwa Bus Station as well as several others in Karama and Bur Dubai to find out whether people are aware of an eating ban in bus shelters.

Of around a dozen commuters, who were waiting for buses at these bus stops, only a couple of people were aware of an eating ban in bus shelters. This despite the fact that and eating and drinking ban is clearly spelt out on the shelters.

“I have eaten in the bus shelters before and I was never stopped, I don’t know if there is ban. I know eating is not allowed in the bus and Metro, but a ban in the bus shelter doesn’t make sense there is no such ban in bus stations and Metro stations,” said Farooq Ansari, a Karama resident and regular public transport user.

A senior RTA official told Gulf News that the ban has always been there and the inspectors were just carrying out their duty.

“There is a provision in the offence list for eating and drinking on the bus and in the bus shelters. Under offence No 29 of the offence list for the bus passenger, chewing gum is deemed to be eating. It is an offence and the fine is Dh100,” said Tareq Al Gaith, Director of Franchising and Enforcement, at RTA’s Public Transport Agency.

He added that a list of offences is put up on notice boards at all bus shelters in Dubai.