Citing fire hazard, Metra bans hoverboards on all trains

Flickr | vxla

CHICAGO (STMW) - Metra calls itself “The way to really” fly, but it will not be the place for tech geeks to “hover.”

The rail agency announced Friday that hoverboards will no longer be permitted on trains “due to concerns over potential fire hazards,” a statement from Metra said.

Hoverboards, which are actually electronic scooters billed as being self-balancing, have become a popular toy, even as more and more transportation agencies, colleges and universities ban them.

“The safety of our passengers and employees is our top priority,” Metra CEO Don Orseno said in a statement announcing the ban, which is effective immediately. “There have been multiple reports of fires and injuries caused by hoverboard use throughout the country, and while there have been no incidents on Metra, we simply want to be proactive by banning this potential fire hazard from being carried on our trains.”

Starting Friday, anyone boarding a Metra train with a hoverboard will be told by Metra personnel to exit the train, the statement said.

The scooters have already been banned on “all major U.S. airlines, Amtrak and L.A.’s Metrolink rail system due to concerns over reports of fires thought to be caused by the lithium ion batteries used to power the devices,” Metra said.

Hoverboard use has also been banned in residence halls and other areas of more than 30 colleges nationwide, including the University of Illinois. They are also banned on public streets in New York City, though some lawmakers want to change that state-imposed rule.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has taken reports of at least 28 hoverboard fires in 19 states, and its chairman issued a statement in December saying the agency will be “working nonstop” to find the cause and determine how much risk the hoverboards actually pose.

In the Chicago area, a hoverboard is believed to have caused a fire in a home in Fox River Grove last week when a teenager left the device charging overnight. No one was injured.