I thank the Deputy for her question. I take the matter she raised seriously, as I do all attacks of this sort.
The safety and security of public transport staff and passengers, 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 the necessary arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of all passengers and staff.
My Department has been advised by Iarnród Éireann that, in 2018, 14 assaults on the company’s staff were reported. This was a slight fall on the 2017 total of 15 assaults on staff. In the first six periods of 2019, there were five assaults on Irish Rail staff, compared to seven for the same period in 2018. This is not to lighten the blow. I take every one of these incidents seriously and am deeply concerned by what is happening.
Irish Rail has also advised that it has undertaken a range of measures and proposes further measures to address anti-social behaviour on the rail network. These include the recent announcement to pilot body cameras for ticket inspectors and customer services officers, increased security personnel, the introduction of customer service officers on all intercity routes and enhanced CCTV coverage.
A new text alert service will also be introduced shortly to enable customers to discreetly report anti-social behaviour incidents and allow security personnel, gardaí or both to be alerted and dispatched as required to an incident.
I am advised that the overall level of anti-social behaviour incidents involving Dublin Bus was down 18% in 2018 and was down by 14% in the first quarter of 2019, compared with the first quarter of 2018. The number of physical assaults on staff so far this year is 26 compared to 22 in the same period last year.
The entire Dublin Bus fleet is fully fitted with CCTV cameras with up to ten 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.