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Leah Farrell/
off the rails

Face masks, hand sanitiser and issues with social distancing dominate 2020 public transport complaints

Covid-19 was central to dozens of complaints about public transport last year.

A BUS DRIVER allegedly told a passenger on board a Dublin service last year that enforcing the wearing of face masks on board “was nothing to do with him”.

The passenger in question made the claim in a formal complaint to the Department of Transport over the driver’s behaviour while they travelled on the service in question.

The complaint was one of dozens raised about the enforcement of Covid-19 regulations on public transport which were made to the department last year.

“I was sitting in the space for wheelchair users when three guys stood over me and two of them proceeded to take their masks off to talk,” they wrote.

“I asked the driver if he was allowing extra people could he please make sure that they wore their masks. His reply was that he had the allowed amount of people on the bus, 35, and it was nothing to do with him if people did not wear masks.”

In another complaint, a driver was criticised for letting too many passengers on board a service in Dublin and for also not telling customers to wear face masks.

“By the time the bus collected customers… we had a total of 12 or 13 customers standing in the stairwell and downstairs – in flagrant breach of your guidelines incorporating 31 passengers, plus six standing,” the passenger said.

“Five of these were not wearing face masks. Two customers were sitting in unauthorised seats. And at no point did I hear the driver advise customers to wear face coverings.”

Others also raised issues with the number of passengers using Luas services, suggesting that crowds on trams meant social distancing guidelines could not be adhered to.  

“I’d like some information on how social distancing will be implemented on the Luas,” one person wrote to the department.

“The tram (at least the Red Line) seems to be regularly overcrowded and there is no one to stop people getting on when it is too full. How many people is the maximum that can safely travel on it?”

Another passenger contacted the department in September to take issue with a feature on Luas trams being disabled following an increased number of passengers compared with the start of the pandemic.

Earlier in the year, Luas doors opened automatically at each stop to prevent passengers from pressing a button top open the doors themselves, as a precaution against them potentially spreading the virus.

However, the complainant was unhappy that this system was no longer in place.

“Since the Luas now has more passengers travelling on it, Luas have disabled this feature, leaving the button having to be pressed to exit the tram. On checking with them, they advised that people may lean on the door at a stop and fall out.”

The passenger suggested that instead, people should not be blocking Luas doorways during the pandemic, and questioned whether this could be enforced.

There were also complaints about the way in which tickets were checked by Luas inspectors, with some passengers saying that the process was risky during a pandemic.

“Over the last two days I have seen many inspections on the Luas as they now want to see everyone’s ticket,” one person said.

“But this is the question I want to ask the government: are you allowing this company to break the Covid-19 2m [guideline] to allow them to come within one foot to check our tickets?”

“For the third time during last week, I had my Leap card read by a ticket inspector on Saturday afternoon,” another complainant wrote.

“For the third time I asked that, because the ticket inspectors are not sanitising the reader between each scan, that the inspector would not touch my card…

“Put simply, I will not accept my card being touched by an inspector’s card reader until I see the reader being sanitised.”

And sanitation was also an issue for one passenger who travelled on a Dublin Bus service last year.

“I would like to know why Dublin Bus have not put any hand sanitiser on the bus, knowing the virus stays active longer on hard surfaces like metal,” they wrote.

Copies of these complaints were released to The Journal under the Freedom of Information Act.

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