Stone throwing is a key problem for bus companies, especially during the winter and school holidays

Rocks being thrown at buses and trams being taken out of service for vandalism were among the main issues in a security update for the National Transport Authority (NTA) board.

However, an internal presentation states that despite all perceptions, the overall trend for antisocial activities on public transport is actually declining.

Another “noticeable trend” was that most of the antisocial problems that were being caused typically involved fare dodgers, according to a presentation.

At the briefing, board members were told Irish Rail’s biggest challenge was “travelling groups of youngsters who want to work together to cause harm”.

This was particularly acute on DART and other commuter trains, while drug or alcohol-related incidents were common on the rest of the rail network.

Bus operators such as Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Go-Ahead said their main problem was stone throwing, particularly during the winter months and school holidays.

This was carried out primarily by children of primary school age and, according to the briefing, could result in injuries to both passengers and staff.

The NTA board has also been told that Dublin’s light rail Luas is facing “the greatest challenges” due to the openness of its network.

A more detailed note on Irish Rail said the overall number of incidents of anti-social behavior had fallen “despite public perceptions”.

Dodgers were vigorously targeted, and joint operations with Gardaí had proved effective.

Irish Rail has also faced challenges from international graffiti criminals who have targeted trains for ‘social media hits’, with one gang already facing prosecution.

Large or large events such as concerts or sports games could also lead to increased antisocial behavior, the NTA board has been informed.

In bus transport, all operators were regularly confronted with stone throwing, which intensified at certain times of the year.

The briefing said bus companies have strong links with the Gardaí community and the best way to tackle the problem is to work with schools.

According to Dublin Bus, there were 14 reported incidents in September and October last year, but that number rose to 42 in November.

The NTA said its research into passenger safety in 2021 showed a drop in “levels of perceived safety” across all modes of transport.

Luas showed a drop in security satisfaction from 57 percent in 2019 to 44 percent in 2021, according to surveys.

The presentation states: “Overall satisfaction with safety at stops and on board buses remains stable across Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and DART, but each is experiencing a shift from passengers who are ‘very satisfied’ to ‘fairly satisfied’ with these aspects satisfied’.”

The board was also told that women were slightly less satisfied than men with safety when traveling by train and tram, but that both sexes were very similarly satisfied with bus travel.

Analysis of personal safety during a journey showed a decrease in ‘extreme satisfaction’ for all operators except Irish Rail.

Figures for the Luas in Dublin showed that 13 per cent of passengers were either not very satisfied or not at all satisfied with onboard safety.

The NTA presentation said plans for this year to address security issues included investments in CCTV with “on-board streaming” available this year in real-time on the Luas network.

Other measures included an increase in security staffing and inspections of DART, commuter and light rail services “subject to Department of Transportation funding.”

They also said they are working on plans to address the lack of lighting at bus stops with shelters, according to the briefing.

A spokesman for the NTA said: “[We] and the transport companies continue to work closely with An Garda Síochána on a local and national level to ensure our customers can travel safely and comfortably.

“The incidence of antisocial behavior on Luas, for example, has actually decreased by 2021, and the vast majority of journeys on the public transport network are completed without any incident.

“Our customers tell us again and again that they are satisfied with their safety on board public transport.” Stone throwing is a key problem for bus companies, especially during the winter and school holidays

Fry Electronics Team

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