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E-scooter ban now also implemented at BVG Berlin

E-Scooter are no longer allowed on Berlin's public transport: After several public transport companies in Germany banned the use of e-scooters on public transport, BVG Berlin is now following on 1 May I © UTM

Safety first: As recommended by the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), the use of miniature electric vehicles (so-called e-trolleys) in BVG vehicles and underground stations will be banned for the time being from 1 May 2024. Fire safety experts had previously criticised insufficient norms and safety standards for the lithium-ion batteries used in these vehicles. The ban on e-scooters will be regulated by the BVG user regulations from 1 May. This does not affect e-bikes, e-wheelchairs or e-senior mobility scooters, which already fulfil significantly higher battery safety requirements according to the expert reports commissioned by the VDV. Other cities have also decided in favour of a ban on e-scooters. In Hamburg, e-scooters have not been allowed on the underground since August 2023, followed by Rheinbahn in Düsseldorf on 1 March and MVG in Munich on 1 April.

This is what the e-scooter prohibition sign looks like in Hamburg I © HHA

Over the past few weeks, BVG has been informing its passengers extensively about the new regulation on e-scooters via tickers, notices on the digital passenger displays and announcements in underground stations. The first transport companies in other German cities had already issued a corresponding ban in recent weeks, and other cities will now follow suit on 1 May. BVG will continuously monitor the further technical development of e-scooters, new VDV recommendations and the situation in other cities in order to re-evaluate the regulation in the future. One thing will remain the same: The safety of all passengers and employees is the top priority in all considerations.

VDV recommendation following explosions in London, Barcelona and Madrid, among others

Fires and explosions involving electric scooters in public transport vehicles occurred in London, Barcelona and Madrid last year. In October 2023, the interior of a Madrid underground railway was even completely destroyed by an explosion of the lithium-ion batteries of a scooter. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident in the tunnel.

The following video shows the fire of an e-scooter on London Underground in November 2021, which was followed by a ban on taking it home in December 2021:

Two fire safety assessments by the independent expert STUVAtec (Studiengesellschaft für Tunnel und Verkehrsanlagen mbH) form the main basis for the recommendation issued by the VDV at the beginning of the year. The expert found that there are currently no sufficiently specific norms and safety standards for the lithium-ion batteries used in electric trolleys, either at national or European level.

With regard to a possible fire in underground railway vehicles, the expert comes to the following conclusion: “In the event of a fire in a small electric vehicle (in accordance with the Ordinance on Small Electric Vehicles (eKFV)) in a fully occupied train travelling in a tunnel, the protection of persons, which is given the highest priority in safety considerations, and the possibility of self-rescue required for this is practically non-existent. Passengers have no alternative in the vehicle as, unlike in long-distance transport, it is not possible to switch to an adjacent unaffected carriage due to the design. The very rapid development of smoke within an enclosed space can therefore lead to health problems for passengers, even within a possibly short remaining journey time to the next stop.” Taking into account the current data and facts, the expert’s final assessment is that the use of small electric vehicles in underground trains cannot be recommended.

E-scooters are very popular, especially in cities, as a supplement and gap filler to traditional public transport – transport is now no longer possible in many places I © VOI

In the second report, STUVAtec also states that e-scooters with lithium-ion batteries can also pose a risk to passengers in other public transport vehicles (buses and trams) in the event of a fire. Weighing up the hazards against the acceptable residual risk, the VDV Operations Committee has come to the conclusion that the use of e-scooters in buses and trams cannot be recommended.