Public transport users are no longer permitted to take e-scooters onto public transport in London or Newcastle due to fears that the vehicles’ batteries could catch fire and emit toxic smoke.
Transport for London (TfL) imposed the ban across its entire public transport network last Thursday and Nexus, which runs the Tyne and Wear Metro and Shields Ferry, followed suit earlier this week.
Both organisations said that e-bikes would still be permitted, arguing that these vehicles are generally subject to better manufacturing standards with batteries positioned in a place where they are less likely to suffer damage.
TfL said the ban had been imposed following recent fires on its premises and services. A review concluded that these were caused by defective lithium-ion batteries that ruptured without warning.
While the safety criteria for London’s various e-scooter trials were agreed by TfL, these scooters will not currently be permitted on its services either.
Chief safety, health and environment officer, Lilli Matson, said: "Our primary concern is always for the safety of our customers and staff.
“We have been extremely worried by the recent incidents on our public transport services, which involved intense fires and considerable smoke and damage. 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."
Commenting on the Newcastle ban, customer services director for Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “We are banning the use of e-scooters on Metro and the Shields Ferry as a safety precaution, following a similar ban introduced by Transport for London.
“Not many people take e-scooters on public transport at the moment, but it is important we are clear about this restriction for the safety of everyone. Our customer service teams and ferry crew will advise customers of the ban and refuse travel where they need to.”
Again, rental e-scooters are being included in the ban as a precaution.
London Fire Brigade has previously raised concerns about the use of incorrect batteries and chargers for e-scooters and e-bikes.
Commenting on TfL’s decision, assistant commissioner for fire safety, Paul Jennings, said: "We have growing concerns about the safety of e-scooters due to the amount of fires we are seeing involving them, so we fully support TfL's ban of private e-scooters on public transport.
"Fires are dangerous and terrifying wherever they happen, but a fire on the transport network has the potential to become very serious very quickly and involve hundreds of people, particularly on trains where evacuation may be challenging, so anything that can be done to mitigate that risk is a positive step."