OPINION: If it’s not the government’s job to keep people safe on public transport, then who is???


A recent poll by thejournal.ie asking readers ‘Should Ireland have dedicated transport police?’ received an overwhelming majority of 86.4% in favour.

The vote came following a homophobic attack on a passenger on a Dublin bus who was headbutted on his way home. The attack left him with serious facial injuries. It is absolutely horrible and should not be tolerated.

Remarkably, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said the issue of transport policing was not a matter for the government and referred it to the Garda Commissioner. What an amazing thing to say. Of course, it is up to the government to ensure that its citizens are safe in the country it governs. If not government then who?

The government is the one encouraging people to leave their cars at home and use public transport. Why would someone get out of their car and get on a bus or train if they thought they might end up being mugged?

I suspect that Leo Varadkar doesn’t regularly use public transport, otherwise he would never have said that. Meanwhile, commissioner Drew Harris also ruled him out.

So neither the government nor the Gardai will deal with us on the trains and buses. We are alone !

I think most of the people who voted for police on buses and trains are those who regularly use public transport.

I take the train a lot and there is always some anxiety about using this mode of transport these days. The amount of what one might call “mild” antisocial behavior that continues unabated is appalling.

It’s almost accepted that people can now get on the train and in a car and play loud music and video games. Talk loudly using plenty of swear words for good measure and engage in general horseplay. These people obviously don’t care about anyone else and have a sense of entitlement. I have yet to see anything said to them by a conductor.

People have to be told to wear headphones if they want to listen to music or watch videos and that goes for kids too. In fact, it should be mandatory.

You just have to repress this form of behavior, which leaves other passengers feeling uncomfortable and with a bad taste in their mouths.

People traveling by train to Dublin from Tullamore and other parts of the country often use it to get to hospital appointments, some may go for chemotherapy or come home from hospital feeling unwell . Others may be on their way to the funerals of loved ones. Some people just want to sit quietly and read and they should be able to do that without others essentially taking control of the cars.

If the government and the green party in particular are serious about getting people out of their cars and using them on public transport, this is an issue that will have to be addressed. If people share a public space with others, they need to know how to behave and unfortunately some don’t.

I saw Minister Eamon Ryan on the train which I’m sure he uses regularly, he must be aware of this issue.
One thing that I find amazing is that often when passengers disembark at Tullamore station there is a security guard standing on the platform looking quite intimidating watching people get off. But what’s the point if all the chaos is on the train?

There must be zero tolerance for any type of anti-social behavior when using public transport. It’s a sad day when trains and buses need security, but that’s the kind of society we live in now. Why should people feel uncomfortable sitting on a train or bus just because someone else doesn’t know how to behave or has no respect for others.

At a Tullamore Borough meeting earlier this year Irish Rail representatives were present Councilor Declan Harvey asked about anti-social behavior on trains and the response was that it was of a societal problem, and of course that is correct. But Irish Rail still has a responsibility to look after its passengers paying for their tickets.

Last year I rode the Luas at Connolly Station to go to Heuston Station, a group of children probably no older than 13 or 14 also got on and went to F… and blinded to content from their heart. They also had their feet on the seats, preventing others from sitting down. A woman came up and glared at them and they started being violent towards her asking what her problem was. The rest of us stayed silent, and why wouldn’t we? Why would anyone care for these children? Everyone on this Luas knew they would come out of the worst. When the same kids saw what looked like security at one of the stops, they got off and could be heard saying they weren’t going to get caught because they hadn’t paid. Everyone visibly relaxed as they left.

Ireland’s public transport system needs to continue to a much higher standard. We should aim to be the best in Europe. This means of transport must be pristine in every way.

Needless to say, there is still no catering service on the trains. You can’t even have a cup of coffee or tea if you’re going on a long trip. Compared to other European countries where travelers can order a full lunch, we are falling way behind and need to pull ourselves together.

Another feature of some European trains are quiet cars and family cars. They could easily be introduced to Ireland.
But at least regulate the antisocial behavior so that people are not afraid to get on the train or the bus.

It is not enough for the Tainaiste to wash his hands of it. What happened to that poor guy on the bus last week could happen to anyone. Can you imagine if it was a tourist in this country? Think of the damage this could cause to our reputation abroad as a friendly country.

Anti-social behavior must be dealt with harshly at the judicial level and this idiotic and ridiculous age of eligibility must end.

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