Figures show 26 Dublin Bus staff were assaulted this year

Lack of dedicated police unit for buses and trains criticised

Figures indicate that the number of incidents of anti-social behaviour on board the Dublin Bus fleet, or at its bus stops, has fallen by nearly a fifth in the first quarter of this year, compared with 2018. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Figures indicate that the number of incidents of anti-social behaviour on board the Dublin Bus fleet, or at its bus stops, has fallen by nearly a fifth in the first quarter of this year, compared with 2018. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Twenty six Dublin Bus staff have been assaulted in the first six months of 2019, down from 22 in the same period last year, according to figures released by the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross.

Mr Ross also said figures show the number of incidents of anti-social behaviour on board the Dublin Bus fleet, or at its bus stops, has fallen by nearly a fifth in the first quarter of this year, compared with 2018.

Commenting on the figures, head of environment and planning at Technological University Dublin Dave O’ Connor said, criminals are taking advantage of public transport staff due to the State’s lack of a dedicated police unit for buses and trains.

Most major cities have a dedicated transport police, he said. Private security firms, such as those employed on the Luas lines in Dublin, do co-operate with gardaí, but they have limited powers.

“There has to be the perception of safety among both staff and users of public transport for any system to operate effectively,” Mr O’Connor said. “People who are recurring problem makers – they’re aware of what they can get away with. They usually wouldn’t take the risk if they thought they would get in trouble.”

Responding to Dáil questions earlier this month, Mr Ross said the Dublin Bus fleet is fully fitted with CCTV cameras, while Irish Rail will shortly pilot body cameras for ticket inspectors, as well as increased security personnel.

‘Extremely worried’

Earlier this month, Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Ruth Coppinger said a Bus Éireann driver was “effectively kidnapped” when he was held at knifepoint and ordered to drive to Drogheda two weeks ago.

“The passenger had a false bus pass and had been challenged by the driver. The driver complied with all emergency procedures, yet the police who were meant to be at Drogheda never arrived,” she said, “This is just one in a long litany of incidents of attacks on bus and rail workers.”

National Bus and Rail Union official Stephen Nugent said a Bus Éireann driver on the Galway-Dublin route was head-butted in the face after he queried a passenger’s right to use a travel card.

Bus Éireann drivers are “extremely worried” about their personal safety, Mr Nugent said, adding that a driver at Busáras in Dublin was spat at in the face by a passenger after he refused to allow him on board with hot food.