Stockholm restricts use of mobile phones in public transport
No ban on mobiles in prospect in Helsinki
A new ban restricting the use of mobile phones in public transport was introduced in Stockholm this week.
Zones marked with stickers that prohibit the use of mobiles exist now in all underground trains, as well as in local trains and buses. However, passengers are still allowed to speak on their mobile phones in the rear seats of a bus. In the newest metro carriages, people are permitted to use a mobile in the central part of the carriage, while the use of phones is forbidden at either end.
The public has not paid much attention to the newest restrictions as yet, and it appears that so many stickers are appearing all the time that people simply do not notice all of them.
"Actually, the public has not really called for this restriction. The proposal was made by the County Council (Landstinget)", commented Björn Holmberg of Stockholm Public Transport Authority (SL).
The County Council is an organisation governed by politicians, currently with a left-wing majority. Last spring the County Council gave an order to restrict the use of mobile phones in public transport, and SL carried out the command.
"A total of some 16,000 stickers have been placed in various vehicles. The price of the stickers was approximately EUR 12,000, and it cost another EUR 43,000 glue them on in various places in the vehicles. In addition, we anticipate that vandalism will cause maintenance costs of around EUR 27,000 per year", Holmberg reported.
Bans, restrictions, and instructions given by authorities are not new for Stockholm residents. Currently, there are around a dozen stickers by the doorway of each metro carriage, including four stickers saying ”Do not lean against the door”, two stickers prohibiting dogs, a ban against littering, instructions to give up a seat to the old or the infirm, two stickers warning about the doors and the risk of accidents, two warnings of the gap between the train and the platform, a ban on smoking, and so on. The newest one is the ban on the use of mobile phones.
Then again, those who insist on using their mobiles anyway will not be fined or punished in any way.
For the time being, Helsinki does not plan to introduce a similar ban on the use of mobile phones in public transport.
In fact, Niilo Järviluoma of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council (YTV) regards such a restriction as a strange idea. It sounds rather patronising, he explains.
On the other hand, Ville Lehmuskoski of Helsinki City Transport feels that the idea is worth considering, but the initiative should come from passengers.
Moreover, Finnish Railways (VR) tested so called "quiet compartments" last year, in which the use of mobile phones was banned. The trial was given up at the end of the year, as not very many passengers used the compartments.
Most public feedback has tended to suggest that the phones themselves are no problem - it is the users who insist on regaling other passengers with reports on office politics or what they did last night who should be banned. Equally there are those who say that if you ban an irritating one-sided phone conversation, you should also be forbidding two or more people from chattering to each other in a loud voice in the carriage.
Others see such mobile phone bans as the thin end of the wedge: what is next on the forbidden list, and why should the people who use the device discreetly have to suffer because of a few motormouths?
Previously in HS International Edition:
Swedish psychiatrist: Swedes err excessively on the side of caution (15.8.2006)