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Keep Your Hoverboard Out of the Subway, MTA Says

By Nicole Levy | January 27, 2016 2:16pm
 The MTA has banned hoverboards from trains, buses, subways and station platforms, citing fire safety concerns.
The MTA has banned hoverboards from trains, buses, subways and station platforms, citing fire safety concerns.
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Getty/Christopher Furlong

Think your hoverboard will make your subway transfers a little easier? Think again.

The MTA has officially banned passengers from bringing hoverboards onto trains, buses and subways or even onto station platforms, the agency announced Wednesday morning.

The ban is because of a fire risk caused by the gadgets' lithium-ion batteries, the MTA said.

The controversial self-balancing electric scooters have come under scrutiny from both local and federal government officials over the last couple months after an increasing number of reports of their catching on fire.

The MTA has long prohibited the use of personal wheeled vehicles like skateboards and scooters in train stations.

But hoverboards, as personal wheeled devices with motors, have resisted classification in New York.

Under state law, riders can't use motor vehicles that aren't registered first and, since the boards can't be registered, they're technically illegal. 

A group of politicians has backed a bill asking the city to legalize them, but NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton thinks that it's difficult enough "walking out in the streets, let alone hovering," he said at at press conference last month.

The MTA also prohibits the possession of hazardous and flammable devices on its transit networks.

According to a safety alert issued by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration in December, the lithium batteries that power hoverboards "can pose a heat, fire and explosion risk" under certain conditions.

The agency's investigation found that more than 80 percent of companies responsible for the hoverboard shipments it intercepted couldn't produce proper certification of battery testing.

“The safety of our customers and employees is always our top concern,” MTA Chief Safety Officer David Mayer said in a statement Wednesday.

“For obvious reasons, it is not safe to use hoverboards, skateboards or other personal wheeled vehicles on station platforms. We’re equally concerned about the safety risk of bringing devices that pose fire hazards into the confined spaces inside trains and buses.”

The transit agency said the MTA Police Department will enforce the ban on Metro-North, the LIRR and Staten Island Railway, while the NYPD will police the city's subways and buses. The NYPD wasn't cracking down on the scooters on sidewalks and streets in November, if one rider's YouTube video was to be believed.

What happens if you're caught red-handed? 

"The amount of a fine would be assessed through the judicial process," MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan told DNAinfo in an email.

Hoverboards are already banned on Amtrak, some regional railroads, and most U.S. airlines.