Anti-social behavior and random assaults are worryingly on the rise in our cities, with the recent unprovoked homophobic attack of Mark Sheehan in Dublin prompting a conversation around policing our public transport.
Sadly, the incident which left Mark in Tallaght University Hospital due to his injuries is not the first of its kind this month, with a similarly brutal attack taking place at a Luas stop in Dublin city center just last week.
With The Department of Transport having just announced an extension to their 24 hour bus services across the capital, it begs the question; are our public transport services a breeding ground for antisocial behavior?
Public transport has always been my go-to for getting to and from town – I don’t drive by choice and have often found the commute more enjoyable with someone else doing the heavy lifting.
My daily bus/Luas to college, and now work, was always an opportunity to sit back, relax and prep myself for the day ahead, now it feels more like a nightmare than anything else.
I don’t need police reports of ongoing assaults to recognize the anti-social behavior on our public transport, I see it with my own eyes everyday.
Many a time my commute has been lengthened or disturbed by an argument or altercation, with the issue appearing to follow the Covid-19 pandemic.
One incident springs to mind off the bat, one which occurred just weeks before the nationwide mandate mask was lifted. I was traveling on the 14 bus through Dundrum when a young woman began verbally harassing an older woman for politely asking her to wear a mask if she wanted to sit next to her.
The incident quickly escalated, with no sign of anyone bar fellow passengers looking to intervene and calm the situation. After what felt like hours of violent commotion, the guards were notified, not by anyone in a position of power, but by the older frightened woman who was being accosted.
The entire affair and my fellow commuters incredibly shaken, offered to wait for another bus, but frankly, the idea seemed incredibly unappealing given what we had just left myself. We split a taxi instead.
This is not the first incident of this kind I’ve come across, merely one that stands out the most. I’ll frequently walk the extra few minutes to a more populated stop, due to my usual being flooded with loud, abrasive groups.
I’ll often get off my bus a few stops early just to avoid hearing loud and escalating arguments, likewise, I’ll avoid the Luas altogether in favor of walking a half hour if it’s brimming with people drinking cans and causing havoc.
As a frequent commuter, it’s safe to say I’ve become desensitized to how poorly policed our public transport is, almost expecting a row or a rude comment on my daily trip to work.
That being said, the recent assault of Mark Sheehan has opened my eyes to how quickly these types of situations can turn violent, and how a quick trip home can turn sour in the blink of an eye.
Given the current climate of violence in our cities, more needs to be done to ensure the protection of our everyday citizens, with better policing of public transport being the first step towards a safer society.