Ward calls for greater security for bus driversMike Finnerty 01 Feb 2024
Sinn Féin TD Mark Ward has called on Minister for Transport Éamon Ryan to offer better protections to bus drivers on the Southside of Dublin.
The Dublin Mid-West TD was speaking in the Dáil about the curtailment of bus services in his constituency.
“We have had a number of bus curtailments in my area of Clondalkin and it has had a huge impact on passengers getting to and from work, visiting family and friends and getting home at nighttime. What measures are being taken to address antisocial behaviour on public buses or towards staff and what supports are available to staff and passengers?”
Ryan said that antisocial behaviour on public transport is a “real scourge,” and his Department are committed to making public transport safe.
He said the entire Dublin Bus fleet is fully fitted with CCTV cameras and radios for immediate contact with a central control centre.
“An Garda Síochána are conducting more patrols in the areas experiencing particular safety and security issues and have deployed undercover Gardaí to assist with this. I fully support this work and the ongoing positive engagement between An Garda Síochána and the various public transport operators as regards the issue of safety on public transport.”
He admitted that both Dublin Bus and Go-Ahead have noted increases in anti-social behaviour on their services, such as employees being the target of verbal abuse and incidents of stone throwing at buses.
Ryan quoted statistics from Dublin Bus which stated they registered 621 reports of antisocial behaviour on its services: 315 incidences related to objects, particularly stones, thrown at buses and 91 incidences of aggressive behaviour.
Dublin Bus had to implement 238 route curtailments throughout 2023 due to repeated incidences of antisocial behaviour on routes, while Go-Ahead experienced 310 reports of antisocial behaviour on its services in 2023, with 68 reported incidences of verbal assault on employees and 49 reports of objects thrown at buses.
In recent weeks, a proposed curtailment of the 13 route on Dublin Bus was averted after drivers were given assurances they would be protected from anti-social behaviour.
Ward raised concerns about the 13 route, saying it is a “vital service” and it’s a service he uses regularly.
He said the users of the service have had stones and other missiles thrown at them.
“Drivers fear for their own safety and the safety of their passengers,” he said.
Ryan said that cross-community support, the support of trade unions, local community members and members of the Gardaí were instrumental in halting the proposed curtailment of services on the 13 route, and said that particular approach could be a template for other communities across Ireland to follow.
“The behaviour of a small few individuals in one area is having a big impact on the majority of the decent residents there,” Ward said, and called for the issue to be “nipped in the bud earlier if we got these people around the table like a task force.”
“I think that would abruptly make a big difference and we could get the buses to stop detouring a lot more quickly than they have been.”