Passing on the buck when setting up an urgently needed transport police force sends the wrong signal

Urban planners in the world’s major cities have long since come to the conclusion that if you offer good alternatives to public transport, there are no traffic problems.

Here, public transport has yet to reach a level of penetration or reliability to give people the confidence to leave their cars at home, despite compelling environmental and cost incentives to do so.

While we are still a long way from bringing public transport infrastructure to optimal levels, this is no excuse for failing to ensure the safety and security of passengers.

People who want to understand democracy should spend less time in the library with Aristotle and more time on the bus, they say.

This is especially true for politicians. If Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had done this a little more often, he might not have been so quick to put the buck on the decision of whether there should be a separate transport police force.

When asked, he dismissed the thought, saying such a question was a matter for the Garda Commissioner rather than the government.

Deflecting the issue after a series of violent attacks on passengers was disingenuous. “I think we all agree that we would like to see Garda’s increased presence in public transport at bus and train stations, and also increased security from the companies,” he said.

The Tánaiste’s diversion of the issue after the recent attacks is disingenuous

But when the government has such security concerns, it’s up to them to respond.

As Dermot O’Leary, secretary general of the National Bus and Rail Union, said, it seems that “not a day goes by without another attack on our public transit system”.

This puts an unbearable burden on staff and makes potential passengers think twice about using these services, especially at night.

The hands-off approach makes no sense. After all, the government’s own climate protection plan contains proposals to increase daily public journeys by 500,000 by 2030.

And, as Mr. O’Leary points out, the types of malicious attacks that have taken place recently tend to deter people rather than encourage them to take the bus or train.

Unfortunately, An Garda Síochána has also stated that it is not currently considering setting up a specialized police unit for public transport.

When people are attacked or feel threatened, Lake Garda has an obligation to respond.

If not willing to support the establishment of a specific transport unit, it must at least provide a stronger Garda presence to allay fears.

The level of antisocial and violent behavior becomes unbearable.

The presence of private security firms deployed on the Luas and by Irish Rail is reassuring but staff have no arrest or detention powers.

One wonders how much things will have to deteriorate before either Lake Garda or the government realizes the level of public concern over the problem. Passing on the buck when setting up an urgently needed transport police force sends the wrong signal

Fry Electronics Team

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