Anti-social behaviour is a broad societal issue that we are currently facing to which public transport is not immune, and passengers and those who work daily on board our trains, buses, trams, and in stations are most directly impacted by incidents which occur.
The safety and security of both 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. The National Transport Authority (NTA) is also engaged with public transport operators regarding the issue of anti-social behaviour.
My Department has been engaging regularly with the NTA and the three CIÉ companies, on the issue of anti-social behaviour and in relation to ensuring the safety of passengers and staff. In their responses, all three companies stressed their strong and close working relationships with An Garda Síochána in relation to these issues.
Furthermore, while I am of course concerned to ensure that the necessary arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of all passengers and staff, 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.
In relation to the action being taken to ensure the safety of transport workers and passengers, my Department has been advised by Iarnród Éireann that a joint Iarnród Éireann/Garda focus on public order and antisocial behaviour has been in place since May 2021. A particular focus has been across the Greater Dublin Area with emphasis on the DART, Northern Line and Heuston to Portlaoise services.
A new security monitoring centre, which is in operation since January 2021, has played a key role in targeting high risk locations. A text alert service is in place to enable customers to discreetly report anti-social behaviour incidents and allow security personnel and/or Gardaí to be alerted and dispatched as required to an incident. Iarnród Éireann's annual spend on security has risen from €3.7 million in 2016 to an expected spend this year of €5.2 million. This has led to an increase in security resources with up to 20 security teams operating daily on-board trains and in stations.
Transdev Dublin Light Rail, who operate the Luas network on behalf of Transport Infrastructure Ireland, employ 50 security staff. These staff are involved in maintaining safety and security on the Luas, along with enforcing the Luas bye-laws. They liaise with An Garda Síochána regularly as part of their work.
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.
The entire Dublin Bus fleet is fully fitted with CCTV cameras, with up to 10 internal cameras and two external cameras fitted on the more modern vehicles in the fleet. Each vehicle is equipped with a radio, which facilitates immediate contact to the Central Control Centre.
All of the company's buses are in radio contact with Central Control. Any instances of disruption or concerns around security are immediately reported and services are suspended as necessary. The company also has mobile inspectors in the city centre, who are available to attend incidents as required.
Dublin Bus operates a schools education programme, which involves educating young people about the importance of the bus in their lives and in their local communities. This has proven highly successful in encouraging young people to respect their bus and has assisted in the reduction of incidents of anti-social behaviour.
Bus Éireann has invested in extensive CCTV coverage throughout its fleet for the protection of passengers and staff and driver security screens are fitted to the entire low-floor, single-deck and double-deck bus fleet.
Emergency support for drivers is provided through 24-hour control centres and any incidents of anti-social behaviour are fully investigated and followed up with An Garda Síochána as required.
The measures in place and those planned are yielding and will continue to yield results, however this is an issue which will require continuing joint action.
As Minister, I will continue to work collectively with all stakeholders to ensure the safest possible travel environment for members of the public, and safest possible working environment for the employees providing our valuable public transport services.