Sunday 22 September 2019

Late-night services at Busáras under threat as drivers object to 'outrageous thuggery'

Bus Éireann buses outside Busáras (Stock image)
Bus Éireann buses outside Busáras (Stock image)

Anne-Marie Walsh

Night services at Busáras may be pulled from Monday week due to "outrageous thuggery" unless security at Dublin's main bus station is beefed up.

Drivers may also refuse to work even sooner if there are further incidents in the wake of a violent attack last month.

In a letter to Bus Éireann management this week, a major transport union has warned that its members will not load or unload buses at the station after 8pm from Monday, September 16.

Bus Éireann has 19 routes operating to and from Busáras and there are more than 800 departures and arrivals every day.

The letter from Dermot O'Leary, the leader of the National Bus and Railworkers Union (NBRU), refers to an incident at Busáras in which a driver was assaulted while loading the 126 bus to Newbridge on August 29.

It is understood the driver was beaten up following an exchange with a group over the validity of travel passes.

"Unless satisfactory security measures are put in place no later than Monday, 16 September, then our members have indicated that they will not be loading or unloading buses at Busáras after 20.00 hours," said the letter to chief customer officer Allen Parker.

"Furthermore, our members have advised that any further incidents in the interim period may result in an immediate application of the above."

It said the recent attack "is systematic of the type of outrageous thuggery which is being witnessed on an almost daily basis across our public transport system" and is not the first on Busáras drivers.

Mr O'Leary said security at the station was completely inadequate, with just one or two security personnel working late. He said it was ironic that Store Street Garda station was on its doorstep. "We now require urgent and immediate action from Bus Éireann," he said.

In a separate letter, Thomas O'Connor of the NBRU asked management to delete a requirement in the drivers' handbook that they should charge full fare if they suspect misuse of social welfare travel passes. He said this work should be transferred to a dedicated revenue unit.

The union also wants assault screens installed and access to assault pay - which would mean full pay if they are absent due to an attack.

Drivers at the Busáras taxi rank yesterday also said that anti-social behaviour had escalated and believed much of it is drug-related.

Chairperson of Tiománaí Tacsaí na hÉireann, David McGuinness, said he did not work the rank but had heard colleagues complain about it.

Mr McGuinness, whose organisation represents 2,500 drivers in the city, said a lot of it appeared to be due to drinking and there was verbal abuse of customers using taxis.

He said attacks on taxi drivers had become more violent. He called for mandatory prison sentencing for assaults.

"I think the gardaí are fighting fires in the city with homelessness and anti-social behaviour," he said. "It's up to the State to sort it out."

Bus Éireann confirmed it had received the union's letter. It said the safety and security of customers and staff was of paramount importance and it had extensive CCTV cameras at Busáras and 24-hour security personnel on site.

"We will continue to work and engage with the trade unions on this matter," it said.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News