Stone throwing is a key problem for bus operators, especially during winter and school holidays.

Stone-throwing at buses and the removal of trams from service due to malicious damage were among the key topics in a security update for the National Transport Authority (NTA) board.

However, an internal presentation said that despite perceptions, the general trend of antisocial activity on public transport was declining.

According to one presentation, another “remarkable trend” was that most of the antisocial problems caused generally involved fare dodgers.

At the briefing, board members were told that the main challenge facing Irish Rail was “groups of young people traveling together with the intent to cause harm”.

This was particularly severe on DART and other commuter rail services, while on the rest of the rail network, incidents were often drug or alcohol related.

Bus operators including Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Go-Ahead said their main problem was stone throwing, especially during the winter months and school holidays.

This was done primarily by elementary school children and could lead to injuries to both passengers and staff members, according to the report.

The NTA board was also told that Dublin’s Luas light rail faced “the most challenges” due to the open nature of its network.

A more detailed note on Irish Rail said overall incidents of anti-social behavior were down “despite public perception”.

Fee evaders were being vigorously attacked and joint operations with gardaí had proven effective.

Irish Rail also faced challenges with international graffiti criminals targeting trains for “social media hits” with a gang already facing prosecution.

Major or large-scale events, such as concerts or sports games, could also lead to more antisocial behavior, the NTA board was told.

On bus services, all operators faced stone throwing on a regular basis, which intensified at certain times of the year.

The report said that the bus companies had strong connections with the Gardaí community and that the best way to address the problem was through the school liaison.

According to Dublin Bus figures, there were 14 incidents reported in September and October last year, but this jumped to 42 in November.

The NTA said its 2021 research into passenger safety had shown a drop across all transport modes in the “level of perceived safety”.

Luas showed a 57% decline in security satisfaction in 2019 to 44% in 2021, according to surveys.

The presentation noted: “Overall satisfaction with safety at the stop and on board buses remains stable for Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and DART, but each sees a shift from passengers being ‘very satisfied’ to ‘fairly satisfied’ with these aspects.

The board was also told that women were slightly less satisfied than men with the safety of train and tram travel, but that both genders had very similar levels of satisfaction with bus travel.

Analysis of personal safety during a journey showed a decrease in ‘extreme satisfaction’ for all operators except Irish Rail.

Luas figures in Dublin showed that 13% of passengers were not very satisfied or not at all satisfied with safety on board.

The NTA presentation said plans for this year to address security issues included investing in CCTV with “on-board transmission” available in real time on the Luas network this year.

Other measures included an intensification of security staffing and inspection of DART, commuter rail and light rail services “subject to funding from the Department of Transportation.”

They also said they were working on plans to address the lack of lighting at bus stops with canopies, according to the report.

An NTA spokesman said: “[We] and transport operators continue to work closely with An Garda Síochána at local and national levels to ensure that our customers can travel safely and comfortably.

“The incidence of antisocial behavior on Luas, for example, actually decreased through 2021 and the vast majority of trips on the public transport network are completed without incident.

“Our customers consistently tell us that they are satisfied with their safety on public transport.”

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