By Michelle Devane, PA
Almost 80 per cent of people support the introduction of a dedicated public transport garda unit, amid concerns over anti-social behaviour, a new survey shows.
The research also found 93 per cent of people have witnessed anti-social behaviour while using public transport.
The survey, which took in the views of more than 1,300 people in Dublin, asked commuters how safe they feel on buses, trains, the Dart and the Luas.
It was conducted by Dublin members of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party who sought to quantify anecdotal evidence of assaults and anti-social behaviour on the transport systems.
There have been calls from Fianna Fáil TDs and senators, as well as other politicians and transport workers, for a dedicated garda unit on public transport following high-profile incidents of assault and harassment.
Fianna Fáil members renewed those calls for more policing on Thursday following the “startling” results of the survey.
It also found that more than 30 per cent of people had been a victim of anti-social behaviour and 73 per cent indicated that they had failed to report an incident of anti-social behaviour on public transport.
Fianna Fáil senator Mary Fitzpatrick said it is “clear that people feel unsafe”.
The Dublin Central based senator said: “Government is rightly investing in public transportation and we are encouraging people to leave their private car at home and take public transport.
“However, it is now clear that people feel unsafe.
“The fact that a significant number of people have indicated that they have either witnessed or experienced anti-social behaviour indicates that those feelings are justified.”
Fianna Fáil TD for Dún Laoghaire, Cormac Devlin, said existing reporting methods need to be “radically overhauled” because they are “not fit for purpose”.
The party’s spokesman on Dublin described it as “worrying” that more than 90 per cent of respondents had witnessed anti-social behaviour.
“Despite these alarming numbers, 73 per cent of respondents stated that they did not report such incidents,” he said.
“This points to a bigger issue that the existing reporting methods are not fit for purpose and must be radically overhauled in order to make it easier and less complicated for those (who in real time) witness anti-social and criminal behaviour on public transport – Luas, bus or Dart.
“This is an item that both the Minister for Transport, the NTA, public transport operators and An Garda Síochána must tackle collectively and fast.”
Dublin North West TD Paul McAuliffe said: “It’s clear from these results that people are worried about their safety on public transport and this is worrying in terms of the economic impact on the city and on the night-time economy.
“As Dublin Fianna Fáil Oireachtas members we want more people shopping in the city centre and enjoying its night-time venues.
“We want Dubliners to feel safe and to be safe.”
The Dublin members of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party will present their findings to Assistant Garda Commissioner for Dublin on Thursday.
Last month Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he would engage with Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan on the policing issue.
However, the Garda said it does not intend to establish a dedicated unit for transport, despite calls from unions over many years to do so.