I thank the Deputy for this question and the opportunity to discuss the very serious issue of antisocial behaviour on our public transport systems. The safety and security of both public transport passengers and staff, including arrangements to deal with antisocial 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 NTA is also engaged with public transport operators regarding the issue of antisocial behaviour. My Department has engaged regularly with the NTA and the three CIÉ companies on the issue of antisocial behaviour and in ensuring the safety of passengers and staff. In their responses, all three companies stressed their strong and close working relationships with An Garda Síochána on 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.
On 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 of this year. A particular focus has been on the greater Dublin area with emphasis on the DART, the northern line and the Heuston to Portlaoise services. A new security monitoring centre, which has been in operation since January 2021, has played a key role in targeting high-risk locations with a particular focus on groups of youths with bicycles using the network to avoid Garda road checkpoints. For the months of June and July, 2,852 fixed penalty notices were issued during the joint operations for fare evasion, with 4,348 issued in the year to date.
There has been a noticeable increase in compliance and a corresponding reduction in antisocial behaviour. A new text alert service has also been introduced to enable customers to discreetly report antisocial behaviour incidents and allow security personnel or gardaí to respond.