Rotterdammers baffled by fine for eating on trams

Rotterdam Centraal
The new Rotterdam Centraal building. Source: Wikimedia/Spoorjan.The new Rotterdam Centraal building. Source: Wikimedia/Spoorjan.

A student from Rotterdam, Marlies, has become the center of a national discussion about what Rotterdam commuters are viewing as an absurd new ruling on RET trams. For consuming a sandwich in the metro, you could incur a fine of €100.

Marlies was having a sandwich in the metro on Tuesday, but had to swallow her bite quickly to avoid just such a fine from the RET controller.

Actor from Rotterdam Jack Wouterse, who has been at odds with authorities before, joked "two weeks in the cell for that Marlies."
Wouterse berated several city policemen in 2011 after they scolded him for his defecating dog. "I understand that those people are doing their jobs. But aren't we going too far when we start fining sandwich-eating girls?"

"Sandwichgate", as it is known now, has a spokesperson in Wouterse. Chris Vonk, of travelers organization Rover thinks it's ironic. "The RET facilitates the sale of sandwiches on stations, but forbids the eating of them", he says.

BroodExpress is one of these snack kiosks that you find at stations. Manager Wesley Landage finds these fines "a very heavy sanction." Frank Karsten of the Foundation More Freedom, which stands up for liberal values, is speaking of this as a "disproportionate measure."

Spokesperson Frouke Albers of the RET is saying that this is only making sure that there is a line somewhere. "What if someone starts eating peanuts in shells or a kebab sandwich in the metro? Other passengers could be bothered by that and that is the reason why we stand up against this kind of behavior." She also points out that there are signs in all metros stating that eating is forbidden.

This issue is reminiscent of the recent scandal in the Unites States and England. A Facebook page called Women Who Eat On Tubes in which amateur photographers took unflattering pictures of women and posted them on the internet, causing outrage in the news as well as social media. That website has been taken down.