Dublin Bus services to parts of west Tallaght were suspended on Thursday evening after drivers reported 35 incidents of violence, attacks, vandalism, threats with knives and a woman driver “terrorised by a huge mob” last month.
Trade unions representing the drivers told Dublin Bus that it was not tenable for them to “risk life and limb, driving buses into estates in west Tallaght, to be attacked and assaulted”.
In a letter to Dublin Bus human resources on Wednesday, the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu said that from 6pm on Thursday, and 6pm every day henceforth, routes 27, 65b and 77a would terminate at the Square Tallaght until further notice.
However, following talks with the company on Thursday afternoon, union representatives said drivers would go past the Square and up the N81 but would not travel into housing estates in Killinarden and Jobstown during the evenings until they saw an improvement in antisocial behaviour.
John Murphy, Siptu’s transport sector organiser, said Dublin Bus had given assurances on Thursday there would be increased Garda resources provided to the area at certain times.
“Bus drivers will go up the N81 but won’t go into the estates after 6pm until they see an improvement and until they feel it is safe to go back in,” Mr Murphy told The Irish Times.
“Thankfully there have been no serious injuries but there have been several near misses. Drivers don’t want to be going into areas where they and passengers are being intimidated.
“Hopefully the extra resources will work but there will have to be a wider conversation about safety on public transport.”
Dermot O’Leary, general secretary of the NBRU, also said an emergency Tallaght forum meeting was due to be established early next week to engage with local representatives and gardaí.
Dublin Bus said following discussions with the trade unions and other stakeholders, including An Garda Síochána, it had been agreed that rather than terminating at the Square, routes 27, 65b and 77a would now follow “the agreed antisocial behaviour protocol” from 6pm. It advised customers to check its website and social media channels for updates.
Jobstown has a population of almost 18,000 people, according to the latest Census, while Killinarden has a population of more than 3,800 people.
The letter sent by the unions to Dublin Bus said west Tallaght was one of a few known “hot spots” for antisocial behaviour and has been the subject of stakeholder engagement for more than a quarter of a century.
“Unfortunately, at a time when the levels of thuggery, violence and vandalism in these hot spots is once again reaching epidemic proportions, and in west Tallaght in particular, the levels of participation from public representatives and other stakeholders has dwindled to nothingness. The stakeholder’s forum has become a talking shop with empty chairs,” it said.
“It is not tenable for bus drivers to risk life and limb, driving buses into estates in west Tallaght, to be attacked and assaulted, and the supposed protocols that should kick in when attacks take place have been ignored too many times.
“December in west Tallaght alone saw 35 incidents of violence, attacks, vandalism, threats with knives and even a woman driver terrorised by a huge mob.”
The letter added that trade unions have “long campaigned” for a dedicated and fully funded Garda transport division.
“It is all very well for those in Government to dismiss or pay lip service to the notion of a dedicated Garda unit whilst simultaneously extolling the virtues of public transport and trying to convince car users to switch,” it said.
“The basic fact is that the unions will not tolerate or be complicit to exposing bus workers to grotesque levels of violence. No sane-minded car user would switch to such a service unless safety is placed at the top of the agenda.”