The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has banned hoverboards from basically every method of public transportation that it controls. Starting today, people are prohibited from "possession of hoverboards" on the New York City subways, city buses, Long Island Rail Road or Metro-North Railroad trains, and the Staten Island Railway. Hoverboards are also banned from all corresponding stations or platforms, too.
The MTA will be promoting the ban with an advertising campaign that uses the same "bubble people" that most New Yorkers are familiar with. The ads will be accompanied by the headline, "Hoverboards Not Allowed."
In a statement, MTA chief safety officer David Mayer compared the use of hoverboards to "skateboards or other personal wheeled vehicles," the use of which is also typically banned by the MTA. "We’re equally concerned about the safety risk of bringing devices that pose fire hazards into the confined spaces inside trains and buses," Mayer said.
The MTA, like others, considers hoverboards a fire hazard
The new ban is not the first. Major airlines, retailers, the US Postal Service, and even NFL teams have all banned or heavily restricted the use, possession, or distribution of the two-wheeled self-balancing scooters. But the MTA's ban is one of the most sweeping, next to the mass confiscation that happened in the UK.
The issue is safety, especially when it comes to the lithium-ion batteries used to power most hoverboards. In the statement announcing the ban, the MTA cites a study from the US Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration which found that 80 percent of the hoverboards it tested used batteries that weren't properly certified.
Of course, we've seen plenty of anecdotal evidence of this over the last few months as more and more hoverboards are caught exploding on video. It's become enough of a problem that Amazon is offering refunds, while companies like Swagway are building new versions with fire-retardant chassis.
Meanwhile, around the country, different states are making efforts to regulate the use of hoverboards and other personal electric vehicles. California, for instance, implemented a law that requires helmets and establishes a speed limit of 35 mph. A few politicians in New York were even pushing to legalize hoverboards as recently as the end of 2015, but the bill still hasn't reached the City Council or State Assembly floor.