Dubai bans battery-operated e-scooters on Dubai Metro, Tram

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Battery-powered e-scooters can no longer be operated or carried on Dubai’s metro and tram systems as of Friday due to safety concerns.

In an abrupt announcement late on Thursday, the city’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said that mobile battery-operated scooters will not be permitted on the Dubai Metro and Dubai Tram from March 1.

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Numerous passengers were caught off guard by the last-minute announcement of the change of rules on Friday morning.

Some travelers welcomed the change, saying it would reduce the inconvenience caused by the size and mishandling of the scooters to fellow riders during rush hour.

“To ensure your safety and that of others, the use of E-scooters inside #DubaiMetro and #DubaiTram will be prohibited, starting Friday, March 1, 2024,” the Dubai authority said on X, formerly Twitter.

Commuters widely use e-scooters for point-to-point travel from the station to the destination and vice versa.

With the ban, commuters would have to rely on alternate modes, including for-hire battery-operated cycles, buses, or expensive taxis, if walking is not an option.

Non-battery-operated, foldable bicycles are allowed if within the specified dimensions, the authority clarified in response to an online query.

Dubai Metro smoke disruption

On February 14, in an unusual occurrence, smoke from an e-scooter caused a brief disruption to the metro service.

The RTA closed the Onpassive metro station for an hour and diverted passengers to nearby stations.

E-scooters have become a popular choice of last-mile transportation for many in the car-dependent Gulf city, which has a well-connected but limited public rail system.

Some private companies have set up e-scooter stands with hourly rental options.

E-scooter safety concerns

E-scooters have been a safety concern due to several incidents and accidents. In the UK, for example, e-bike and e-scooter fires killed eight and injured 190 people between 2020 and 2023, according to a Guardian report.

Powered by lithium-ion battery packs, they are vulnerable to overheating and can release toxic smoke in a matter of seconds.

Quality control issues and issues with charging are among the chief concerns with the largely unregulated electric mobility market.

Dubai rules for e-scooters

Dubai has strict laws for e-scooter users. In 2022, the RTA launched a mandatory license for riders. Those under 16 are not allowed to use an electric bike or e-scooter.

There are specific areas in which e-scooters can be operated. The rider must also follow speed limits and wear protective gear.

Failure to adhere to these rules can result in a monetary fine.

Dubai smart robot for surveillance

On Thursday, the RTA announced that it would begin trialing a smart robot that can surveil and detect violations by bikers and e-scooter users.

It can reportedly identify violations with over 85 percent accuracy, deliver data in five seconds, and has a surveillance reach of up to two kilometers. The trial will be conducted in the Jumeirah 3 beach area.

A smart robot tasked with surveillance and detecting violations concerning soft mobility means. (Dubai media office)
A smart robot tasked with surveillance and detecting violations concerning soft mobility means. (Dubai media office)

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