Toronto’s Metrolinx introduces new safety standards for e-bike batteries on GO trains

March 20, 2024

Metrolinx announcement

Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, has announced a significant policy change affecting the GO Transit network.

Starting April 9, all e-bike batteries lacking “UL” or “CE” certification will be banned from trains.

This decision, revealed on Thursday, stems from a thorough review of bike policies conducted by Metrolinx to cater to the growing demand from cyclists.

“Over the course of the past several months, Metrolinx has been actively reviewing our bike policies to support increased demand from our bike users,” stated the agency via email.

Enhancing safety and alignment with standards

The initiative aims to elevate the safety of passengers and harmonize Metrolinx’s regulations with those of other regions.

“To ensure the safety of our customers and better align with other jurisdictions, Metrolinx will require e-bike batteries to comply with standard UL or CE requirements, in addition to other measures, effective April 9,” the statement further elaborated.

The introduction of this policy follows rising concerns over the safety of lithium-ion batteries used in micro-mobility devices.

Incidents prompting action

The urgency of this policy can be traced back to an incident on New Year’s Eve last year when an e-bike caught fire in a subway car at Sheppard-Yonge Station in North York, leading to a quick evacuation and intervention by Toronto Fire crews.

The e-bike owner suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Matthew Pegg, Toronto Fire Chief, attributed the fire to a faulty lithium-ion battery pack.

In 2023, the Toronto Fire Service reported 55 lithium-ion battery fires, a significant increase from the previous year, highlighting a growing safety concern.

Community response and preventive measures

Recent expressions of concern from GO Transit riders about the volume of e-bikes on trains have underscored the need for this policy.

Janice Jim, a commuter, labeled the situation as “a disaster waiting to happen.” Metrolinx has engaged in collaborative efforts with the TTC and Toronto Fire Services since the subway e-bike fire, conducting site investigations and exploring mitigation strategies.

“All GO trains are constructed with flame retardant materials as per the National Fire Protection Association standards,” Metrolinx reassured.

Further details on the ban will be shared before its implementation to facilitate customer adaptation.

IFSJ Comment

Metrolinx’s move to mandate UL or CE certification for e-bike batteries on its GO Transit network is a proactive step towards ensuring passenger safety and mitigating risks associated with lithium-ion batteries.

This policy reflects a commitment to high safety standards and aligns with broader efforts within the transportation sector to address the challenges posed by the increasing use of micro-mobility devices.

By taking decisive action in response to incidents and community concerns, Metrolinx is leading by example in the adoption of preventive measures that protect passengers and infrastructure alike.

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