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Downward trend of anti-social behaviour on public transport, says report

Most of the anti-social problems on public transport were caused typically involved fare evaders, according to an internal presentation.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

MARAUDING GANGS OF youths on commuter train services, stones getting thrown at buses, and trams being removed from service because of malicious damage were the key issues in a security update for the board of the National Transport Authority.

However, an internal presentation said that despite perceptions, the overall trend for anti-social activity on public transport was in fact reducing.

Another “noticeable trend” was that most of the anti-social problems being caused typically involved fare evaders, according to a presentation.

In the briefing, board members were told that the primary challenge faced by Irish Rail were “groups of youths travelling together where the intent is to cause harm”.

This was particularly acute on DART and other commuter train services, while on the rest of the rail network, incidents were often drug or alcohol related.

Bus operators including Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann, and Go-Ahead said their key problem was stone throwing, especially during the winter months and school holidays.

This was mostly being done by primary-aged children and could lead to injury for both passengers and staff members, according to the briefing.

The NTA board were also told that Dublin’s Luas light rail faced “the most challenges” because of the open nature of its network.

A more detailed note on Irish Rail said overall incidents of anti-social behaviour were down “despite public perception”.

Fare evaders were being targeted vigorously and joint operations with Gardaí had proven effective.

Irish Rail also faced challenges with international graffiti criminals targeting trains for “social media hits” with one gang already facing prosecution.

Major or large-scale events like concerts or sports games could also lead to increased anti-social behaviour, the NTA board were informed.

On bus services, all operators faced stone throwing on a regular basis which intensified at certain times of the year.

The briefing said bus companies had strong connections with community Gardaí and that the best way to tackle the problem was through school liaison.

According to figures from Dublin Bus, there had been 14 reported incidents in September and October last year, but this leapt to 42 in November.

The NTA said that their 2021 research on passenger safety had shown a drop across all transport modes in the “level of perceived safety”.

Luas showed a precipitous decline from 57% safety satisfaction in 2019 to 44% in 2021, according to surveys.

The presentation noted: “Overall satisfaction with safety at the stop and on-board buses remains stable for Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and DART but with each experiencing a shift from passengers being ‘very satisfied’ to ‘fairly satisfied’ with these aspects.”

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The board were also told that women were slightly less satisfied than men with safety for train and tram travel, but that both genders had very similar satisfaction levels with bus journeys.

Analysis of personal safety during a journey showed a decline in “extreme satisfaction” for all operators except on Irish Rail.

Figures for the Luas in Dublin showed that 13% of passengers were either not very satisfied or not at all satisfied with on-board safety.

The NTA presentation said plans for this year to address safety issues included investment in CCTV with “on-board streaming” available in real time on the Luas network this year.

Other measures included an intensification of security personnel and inspection on DART, commuter rail, and light rail services “subject to Department of Transport funding”.

They also said they were working on plans to address the lack of lighting at bus stops with shelters, according to the briefing.

A spokesman for the NTA said: “[We] and the transport operators continue to work closely with An Garda Síochána at local and national level to ensure that our customers can travel safely and comfortably.

“The incidence of anti-social behaviour on Luas for example, actually dropped through 2021 and the vast majority of journeys across the public transport network are completed without any incident whatsoever.

“Our customers consistently tell us that they are satisfied with their safety on-board public transport.”

About the author:

Ken Foxe

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