Transport for London announced a ban on all e-scooters on its network, effective December 13th, over safety concerns following recent fires. The ban will apply to all public transport in London, including underground trains and buses.
E-scooters are currently banned on UK roads and sidewalks, but shops can still sell them for use on private land. The only legal e-scooters in use in London are the ones part of rental trials that started over the summer. The ban does not include mobility scooters that are permitted on TfL’s network, and foldable e-bikes are still permitted.
“We have been extremely worried by the recent incidents on our public transport services, which involved intense fires and considerable smoke and damage,” said TfL’s chief safety, health, and environment officer Lilli Matson. “We have worked with London Fire Brigade to determine how we should deal with these devices and, following that review, we have decided to ban them. Customers who try to bring them onto our network will be refused access to our stations and premises, and not be permitted to use any of our services.”
TfL did not reference specific fires, but local news reported on an incident in November, when an e-scooter exploded in a London Underground station, causing black smoke.
Exclusive - Footage shows the dangers of escooter battery fires on the tube. This happened on Monday night. @TSSAunion calling for a ban on carrying escooters on public transport saying they’re a “significant threat”. More BBC1 @BBCLondonNews 1330 & 1830 & https://t.co/AnnXezXTE2 pic.twitter.com/iCjNLtlKDu— Tom Edwards (@BBCTomEdwards) November 3, 2021
The transport agency said the incidents it referenced were caused by “defective lithium-ion batteries which ruptured without warning,” which led to fires that cause toxic smoke. If such a fire happened in an enclosed area, it could lead to significant harm to staff and customers, TfL said in its news release.
Anyone who violates the ban could face a fine of up to £1,000 (about $1,300 USD).