The safety and security of public transport passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with anti-social behaviour, are important matters that, first and foremost, must be managed by every public transport company, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána, where appropriate.
While the vast majority of public transport passenger journeys occur without incident, I am concerned to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of all passengers and staff.
Following representations from the National Bus and Rail Union, my Department wrote to the three CIÉ companies to get their views on the issue of anti-social behaviour and ensuring the safety of both passengers and staff. All companies stressed their strong and close working relationships with An Garda Síochána.
I also wrote to the Minister for Justice and Equality to seek his views on how we could address the issue of anti-social behaviour on our public transport system. The allocation of all Garda resources, including the manner in which Garda personnel are deployed, is solely a decision for the Garda Commissioner and his management team.
I understand that An Garda Síochána met with the Railway Safety Advisory Council (RSAC) in relation to the issue of anti-social behaviour on our public transport network and that further engagement and initiatives are planned. Following that engagement, I note and welcome the recent deployment of gardaí to public transport locations and to DART, Luas and commuter rail services under ‘Operation Twintrack’.
Irish Rail has advised that it has undertaken a range of measures and proposes further measures to address anti-social behaviour on the rail network, including increased security personnel, allowing for a doubling of security patrols, the introduction of Customer Service Officers on all Intercity routes and enhanced CCTV coverage.
A new text alert service has also been introduced to enable customers to discretely report anti-social behaviour incidents and allow security personnel and/or Gardaí to be alerted and dispatched as required to an incident. The entire Intercity fleet is also equipped with CCTV and with communications buttons at doors.
Iarnród Éireann's annual spend on security has risen from €4.1 million in 2017 to €4.5 million in 2018 and it is projected by the company that its spend on security will rise again this year to €4.7 million.
Both Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann have reported that the level of anti-social behaviour is relatively low on their services and noted a declining trend, which is positive. Following a recent serious incident at Busáras, Bus Éireann has introduced more stringent security measures at the station with a view to combatting increased levels of anti-social behaviour at the site.