Enforcement of new GO Transit bike policy for trains, buses and stations set to begin

Metrolinx has confirmed it is gearing up to ban certain e-bike batteries from GO trains by April 9th. As Tina Yazdani reports, the provincial transit agency has already started inspecting for uncertified batteries that pose a fire threat.

Amid concerns about safety and crowding, GO Transit staff will begin enforcing a new policy governing bicycles and e-bikes on the agency’s trains and buses as of April 9.

A statement issued by Metrolinx, the provincial agency that operates GO Transit, said staff will first be deployed to educate customers on the new policy, but if someone doesn’t comply fines of up to $360 plus denial of boarding could happen. The biggest changes will affect customers who travel with e-bikes.

Under the new policy, e-bikes and batteries must have “UL” or “CE” requirements and certifications. GO Transit staff will now be working to inspect all e-bikes brought onto buses and vehicles, and the ones that meet the requirements will have a tamper-proof seal attached. If the battery is determined to be unsafe, the policy said it can be ordered removed from GO property.

Other changes specific to e-bikes include banning battery charging on GO property and banning damaged e-bikes or ones with corroded batteries. There will also be a maximum weight restriction of 55 kilograms (or 25 kilograms if there isn’t a battery). Mopeds, motor scooters or e-bikes that “resemble” motorcycles will be banned from trains, buses, tunnels and platforms.

The updated policy comes as TTC staff mull imposing e-bike restrictions. Toronto Fire Services has seen a jump in fires linked to substandard or damaged lithium-ion batteries and chargers, including an e-bike fire aboard a TTC subway car on New Year’s Eve.

New guidelines for GO Transit trains, bike coaches being added

Under the policy, there are now streamlined guidelines for GO trains. There is now a ban on bicycles and e-bikes for weekday trains scheduled to arrive at Union Station between 6:30 and 9:30 a.m. and weekday trains scheduled to depart Union Station between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m.

Other rules include:

  • A maximum of two bikes and/or e-bikes per train car, kept in dedicated zones (green bike stickers at doors shows where zones are)
  • If dedicated zones have bikes or e-bikes, customers need to try a different train car or wait for the next train
  • Owners must stay with the bikes or e-bikes, can’t be locked in train
  • Doors and stairs can’t be blocked
  • Bikes and e-bikes can’t be kept on accessibility coaches (unless the customer has a disability and received approval from GO Transit)
  • When a train is equipped with a bike coach, customers are encouraged to use it versus passenger rail cars

The statement said Metrolinx is in the process of equipping trains with more dedicated bike coaches, similar to ones used for seasonal train service to Niagara Falls on the Lakeshore West line. Currently, eight new bike coaches (each one with the ability to hold 22 bikes on the lower level) are being refurbished to add to the existing complement. The new coaches will be added on Kitchener line trains where there has been a reported spike in bike couriers as well as Lakeshore West trains.

Rules for GO buses, stations

The policy also has streamlined rules for buses. Bicycles and e-bikes must be placed on the racks at the front of the bus (folding bicycles are exempt from this requirement), and there are only two spots per bus.

The maximum weight per bicycle or e-bike is 25 kilograms and e-bike batteries must be removed. Drivers aren’t allowed to assist with loading and unloading.

As for the rules at stations, e-bikes can be parked wherever bicycles are permitted. However, charging e-bikes is not allowed at stations.

Bicycles and e-bikes aren’t allowed to be ridden in stations or on platforms.

If the e-bike “resemble(s) mopeds, motor scooters or motorcycles,” it needs to be parked in a vehicle spot.

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