Friday 24 February 2017

Increase in anti-social behaviour and racism on the Luas

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

ALMOST 1,000 reports of antisocial behaviour on the Luas were recorded last year -- including incidents of racist and threatening abuse directed at staff.

Cases were up 11pc on 2010, with an average of around three incidents occurring every day.

Veolia Transport, which operates the light-rail system, said verbal abuse, both onboard the trams and at stops, accounted for the bulk of the incidents, with the vast majority of cases occurring on the Red Line.

A spokeswoman said that while outbreaks of anti-social behaviour have increased, passenger numbers have also jumped from 27.4 million to 29.4 million last year, and more stops have been added.

"Much of the public disorder is verbal abuse and the abuse at staff tends to be racist and threatening in tone," the spokeswoman said.

"Anti-social behaviour is an issue for the city of Dublin and Veolia is working with many others to reduce incidents on board trams and at stops."

There were 970 reported incidents last year, up from 870 in 2010. Three-quarters of the incidents occurred on the Red Line, and the remainder on the Green Line.

While prosecutions may have been initiated against offenders, it is not yet known how many.

An Immigrant Council of Ireland report published in October found ticket inspectors on the Luas were subjected to racist slurs.

Rail Users Ireland, a group that represents commuters, said the Government needs to consider introducing a national transport police to deal with criminal behaviour across the transport network.

Spokesman Mark Gleeson said he has sympathy with the Luas operators. "It is the one thing they haven't got any control over," he said.

Veolia said security on the lines has been increased, with staff on from 10am until the last tram, seven days a week.

Ticket inspectors have been trained in conflict avoidance, educating them on how to prevent situations from escalating out of control.

CCTV is also operating along the Luas system.

"We work very closely with the gardai; every month, we meet gardai from each garda station on the Red and Green Lines," the spokeswoman said.

"These meetings look at incidents that took place, inform us on what measures we can put in place to prevent a similar incident occurring again, and plan support for matches, concerts, public events etc."

However, despite the criminal behaviour, Veolia said 96pc of passengers on both the Red and Green lines last year told them they were very satisfied with the service.

Some 29.4 million passenger journeys were made on the Luas last year, with 90,000 people using the service every day.

Irish Independent

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