'Drivers have been told that they're going to be shot' - Dublin bus driver on the rise of anti-social behaviour
A Dublin Bus driver has revealed that there has been an "upsurge in anti-social behaviour this summer" on public transport.
The experienced driver, who asked not to be identified, told Independent.ie that 35 incidents were reported on the 27, 77a and 65b routes during in an eight-week period between July and August.
These routes service the Tallaght area of south Dublin.
"The biggest problem we have is people throwing rocks at buses and smashing the windows," he said.
"The Gardai put a presence out for a while but it eventually had to be withdrawn.
"We've had community meetings about it, we've advertised on social media that the services would be cancelled if this behaviour continues but it doesn't stop."
He also confirmed that there have been reports of distressing verbal threats from passengers to drivers.
"There have been some incidents where drivers have been told that they're going to be shot. In 2017, when Dublin has a serious issue with firearms, those threats take on a new meaning.
"Thankfully, those incidents are few and far between but they shouldn't be happening at all."
Drivers also have to deal with a dangerous new trend known as "scutting", in which people cling to the back of vehicles to hitch a ride.
It has become a particular problem on the Finglas and Tallaght routes since the redesign of the SG Dublin Bus model in 2014, facilitating access to the back of the bus.
The new bus models also feature a visible button which could cut the engine at any time while the vehicle is in motion.
"It's completely dangerous behaviour and it could get people killed," the driver said.
For drivers of routes in West Tallaght, their job has become a nightmare.
Have you witnessed anti-social behaviour on your bus route?
"Anti-social behaviour, alcohol consumption, people smoking cannabis... it doesn't make for a pleasant working environment at all. The drivers are just trying to do their jobs.
"At some stage the Government needs to step up and address this issue."
The driver believes that transit police and extra security on buses after 6pm on the routes affected could be one solution to the problem.
Stephen Byrne, from Tallaght, said he has witnessed some "frightening" anti-social behaviour while commuting by bus.
"I've been on a bus that's been hit by stones a few times and we've all had to get off and wait for the next one.
"It can be very frightening for the person sitting next to the window that gets hit. I'll never understand the thrill people get from throwing stones at windows. They don't get chased or anything like that. They just waste everyone's time."
As a result of the rise in anti-social behaviour, drivers will withdraw services after 6pm on the 27, 77a and 65b routes from Monday.
In a letter to Dublin Bus, the National Bus and Rail Union said: "It is the intention of this trade union to protect its members at all costs and we have been more than accommodating over the last few months.
"There had been a huge upsurge in anti-social behaviour in the Tallaght area in the last two months which is causing serious stress and harm to ordinary members.
"No frontline worker should have to endure such treatment, yet Dublin Bus management expects drivers just to put up with these horrid working conditions.
"Every worker is entitled to a safe workspace but this is currently not the case for the bus drivers in west Tallaght.
"The reality on the ground for bus drivers is that these incidents are continuing to rise in number despite the best efforts of An Garda Siochana and some in the community."