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Anti-social behaviour and bus curtailments: Efforts to tackle problem in Tallaght a 'great success', union says

The NBRU praised the strong collaboration at local level at helping to address the problem.
Sep 19th 2020, 6:30 AM 34,041 29

STRONG COLLABORATION BETWEEN local gardaí, trade unions and Dublin Bus has proven a “great success” in reducing the number of curtailments of bus services due to anti-social behaviour in west Tallaght, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) has said. 

Local union representative Sean Yeates told TheJournal.ie that current arrangements in place are working well, even ahead of the Halloween period where the incidences of anti-social behaviour affecting bus services usually increases.

This week, figures released to Sinn Féin TD Mark Ward showed that Dublin Bus services have been curtailed due to anti-social behaviour – such as the throwing of stones or the setting of fireworks near buses – 92 times. 

At the current rate, the total number of curtailments for this year should be far higher than the 108 instances for all of 2019.

The 27 bus – the route of which passes through Tallaght and terminates at Jobstown – has had 21 reported instances of curtailments this year, and is only second to the 40 bus route (which has had 35).

According to Yeates, however, the situation for bus services in Tallaght has vastly approved in recent times. 

“Going back 25 years, we could have had spikes where you could have 30-40 incidents [of anti-social behaviour] over the space of a few months,” he said. “Curtailments are a vital part of giving us breathing space and pulling a route of an area for an hour. If it happens again that day, we’ll pull all services for the rest of the evening.”

Any incidents of stone throwing or other forms of anti-social behaviour are reported by the driver into the controller, and the gardaí are also informed. 

Curtailments are usually automatically put in place in that area so that other buses on the same service will bypass that area for at least one hour before returning to its normal route. 

In that time, an inspector from Dublin Bus will attend the scene and Yeates said local gardaí are especially proactive in attending the scene to support the bus services. 

“We meet every month then,” the union rep said. “And we iron out whatever issues we have with all the stakeholders. For the likes of Halloween, then, we’d meet up well in advance.”

This system was agreed between unions and Dublin bus in 2017 after a spike in anti-social behaviour in the west Tallaght area.

At the time, the NBRU told Dublin Bus that “no frontline worker should have to endure such treatment, yet Dublin Bus management expects drivers just to put up with these horrid working conditions”. 

Unions and the company agreed the system going forward to support drivers in addressing anti-social behaviour when it arises.

The situation has improved since then according to Yeates. 

“Coming up to Halloween, we’ll work closely with all involved,” he said. “If a driver reports back a bonfire being set up too close to the road, the gardaí will contact the council who’ll arrange for it to be moved. 

If we have to do curtailments, it’s only for that area and we find an alternate way to get onto the normal route. If there’s more than two instances we pull the services for the evening. We work well with all involved. It’s something that should be being replicated around the city. 

Local Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart attends the monthly fora where unions, gardaí, local representatives, community organisations and Dublin Bus can discuss ongoing issues.

He told TheJournal.ie that it is a matter that requires “constant vigilance” and that each party meeting face-to-face is far better at resolving issues than email and phone calls. 

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“There’s an effective process in place,” he said. “The gardaí do great work and Dublin Bus do a lot of outreach themselves. They go into schools and say things like it could be your mam or your granny on that bus and stuff like that.”

Lahart said that constituents hadn’t raised as many issues concerning anti-social behaviour on buses in recent months, and Transdev was being similarly proactive in tackling such behaviour on Luas services.

“There’s a range of people putting the work in, and it’s important now heading into Halloween,” he added. “I think there’s a kind of low-grade stress everyone is feeling with what we’re living through. Everyone’s beginning to realise these measures will be with us and Covid will be with us for a while. For younger people that can be very challenging, but they’ve done exceptionally well through all this.”

In a statement, Dublin Bus said CCTV and security screens for drivers have helped to reduce anti-social behaviour and vandalism on buses in recent years.

The company stressed its “strong and close working relationship with the gardaí” had also played a role. 

Dublin Bus said: “We also operate a Schools Education Programme which involves educating young people about the importance of the bus in their lives and in their local community.

“The work of our School and Community Co-ordinators has also proven highly successful in encouraging young people to respect their bus and has assisted
greatly in the reduction of incidents of anti-social behaviour.”

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Sean Murray

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