Over 200 Dart carriages have been vandalised since the start of the year at a cost of over €500,000, according to Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell.
Deputy Farrell has reiterated his call for a dedicated unit within An Garda Síochána to tackle rising incidents of anti-social behaviour and vandalism on our buses, trains, Darts and Luas.
Deputy Farrell, who represents Dublin Fingal, said: “Worrying data obtained from the individual transport providers demonstrates the need for high visibility policing to ensure the safety of passengers and staff on trains and buses.
“From January to the start of November, 211 Dart carriages have been vandalised, with cleaning and repair costs amounting to a total of €516,000, according to Irish Rail. Graffiti along with vandalism is the constant problem on the Darts.
“On top of this, passengers sent 71 texts to Irish Rail’s text alert system, with 50 reported from Dart users and 21 reported on Commuter services from January to September.
“22 passengers reported youths causing disturbances, while 27 reports related to the use of drink, drugs and smoking on trains, nine reported harassments, five reported aggressive behaviour and verbal abuse.
“Other cases related to attempted theft, vandalism and social distancing and mask wearing concerns.
“Shockingly, Bus Eireann indicated to me a year-on-year increase of 86% in incidents of malicious damage, with 80 incidents in the first nine months of the year, compared to 40 in the same period in 2020.
“As a regular Dart user, I have witnessed this anti-social behaviour, including young male Dart users making threatening comments of a sexual nature towards a female passenger which simply cannot be tolerated.
“A recent report from Transport Infrastructure Ireland revealed 34% of women have stated that feelings of insecurity have prevented them from travelling – with a lack of safety infrastructure exacerbating these feelings.
“We recently learned of personal accounts in the media of what Irish Rail staff experience on a regular basis as part of their work. Drug dealing and taking, as well as verbal and physical abuse, seem to now be par for the course for those travelling and working on public transport.
“High visibility policing on our public transport will send a clear and unequivocal message, that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and perpetrators will face consequences for their actions.
“Progress has been made by my colleague Minister for Justice Helen McEntee recently in the area of policing. I was delighted to see the recruitment of 800 new Gardaí announced in Budget 2022, along with 400 additional civilian Garda staff to support Gardaí in their duties.
“I know Iarnród Éireann has been working with employees and trade unions, An Garda Síochána, and private security personnel to ensure measures are proactively put in place to address anti-social behaviour to ensure as safe a travelling and working environment as possible.
“A joint Iarnród Éireann/Garda focus on public order and antisocial behaviour has been in place since May 2021 with particular focus across the Greater Dublin Area with emphasis on DART, Northern Line and Heuston to Portlaoise services, as well as regional Garda response hubs in Portlaoise and Thurles.
“I believe now a dedicated unit to police public transport, including at stations and stops, must now be established within An Garda Síochána.
“The presence An Gardaí aboard our trains and buses will not only provide peace of mind for staff members and users, it will also crucially deter anti-social behaviour and abuse,” Deputy Farrell concluded.