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Unions suspend bus services due to anti-social behaviour, can we bring back the conductor?

In what, to this writer’s mind, is a rather shocking development, Dublin Bus has announced that it will be suspending some services to West Tallaght from this evening,  affecting the 49, 65b, 27 and 77a bus routes

It was reported that services to the area operating after 6pm will be halted indefinitely due to high instances of ‘anti social behaviour’. 

According to reports the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) and Siptu have “instructed their members not to serve most routes heading south of the Square shopping centre from 6pm today and for every evening until a solution is found.”

I think most of us who live in and around Dublin will have heard stories about horrid things like muggings, assaults, and drunkenness on ‘the bus’, – and I in no way mean to downplay the seriousness of those kinds of incidents – but what could cause unions representing Dublin Bus drivers to refuse to service an area after 6pm? 

6pm, while undoubtedly ‘the middle of the night’ in terms of darkness at this time of year, isn’t exactly prime time for the kind of shenanigans one might usually witness in parts of Dublin due to drunkenness – you know, the most common cause of the city’s uglier exploits.  

The Irish Examiner’s report says that “Some 155 anti-social incidents on public transport were recorded last year in Tallaght, with 35 recorded in December alone.”

In one shocking incident, last December,  a gang of up to 20 youths “stopped a bus with a female driver, forced open the doors and threw in stones, gas cannisters and snowballs”. 

There’s something so cowardly about a group attacking an individual, and for that person to be a woman is just gross in my opinion. 

I remember recently getting what I think was the last bus home after attending Jordan Peterson’s Dublin tour date. Presumably drunk members of the public slapped and pushed the sides of the bus – for reasons best known to themselves – while others, shaky on their feet, narrowly avoided throwing themselves under the thing as it passed by. 

I also remember feeling rather concerned for the welfare of the female driver: alone on the late shift. 

At this point I think it’s worth considering bringing back bus conductors. I remember bus conductors checking tickets and providing a general sense of peace that you were safe enough on the bus, at least until you had to face the streets again after alighting. 

Of course that was a good few years ago at this stage, and Ireland may well be more dangerous now than it was when I was in primary school.  They might need to be Robocop-like leviathans to deal with the kind of anti-social behaviour mentioned in the reports, but wouldn’t it be nice to bring back the conductors? 

I’m not saying that having one extra person working on the bus would make the problem of anti-social behaviour go away overnight, but in situations where a driver feels threatened two is going to be better than one, and, as I said before, I like the idea of having the extra person on board for safety reasons. 

You know, like the 1970s CIE advert said,  “Give us a bob or two, and we’ll give the right change to you!” – but maybe with the addition of a baton. 

CIE: D-Day

 

I am aware that  a lot of people who are ‘with the times’ have leap cards these days, but I still see confused tourists experiencing what looks like other worldly levels of bewilderment that Dublin Bus doesn’t give change. 

I remember keeping overpayment receipts with the firm intention of bringing them into the office on O’Connell street, but always asking myself if it was really worth the trek to redeem 1.75. 

Trying to coordinate trips to Dublin with remembering the blooming receipts was also no mean feat. 

The security guards who police the Luas, for example, are definitely providing a vital service, but there’s just something about them that makes you feel like you fare dodged when you know you didn’t. 

Given the reported extent of the anti-social behaviour affecting bus drivers, you might wonder who would want to do such a job, but by that logic who would want to do any job where risks to one’s personal safety might come into play? It’s certainly not a perfect solution, but I think bringing back the friendly but firm bus conductor might just be a step in the right direction. 

 

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