herald

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Spat on and paint sprayed into faces - how drivers are regularly abused

Bus driver Christian Tei had paint sprayed into his face Picture: Colin O'Riordan
Bus driver Christian Tei had paint sprayed into his face Picture: Colin O'Riordan

Dublin Bus drivers have revealed how they have been spat at, verbally abused, and had paint sprayed in their faces on their routes.

On the second day of their strike for pay increases, drivers say the fact that they have to interact with the public makes their job harder and they deserve a pay rise as a result.

At the Phibsboro depot, striking drivers told the Herald of their experiences.

"I was on a bus in Maynooth late one evening when a group of kids were getting off and one of them, without any provocation, turned and sprayed me in the eyes with a can of spray paint," said Cristian Tei (40), from Romania.

"I had to go to the hospital. The bus inspector was beside me when the doctor said I was lucky not to lose my eye. I was out of work because of it."

Drivers emphasised it was only a tiny proportion of the people they encounter who engage in such behaviour.

John Simons (54), who drives the 120 route, told a story of how an attack on him was so violent that the bus had to be taken out of service after it.

"A guy got on going to Cabra and wanted to pay €1.80 but I told him the fare was €2.50 and he started shouting abuse at me. I told him I would bring him as far as St Peter's Church and when I pulled in at the church there was more shouting and then he spat on me," he said.

"I was just on the radio to report it then when he threw a brick through the window and I was showered with glass as well. I couldn't believe it."

Ballybough man David Dempsey (52) has had similar incidents of spitting.

"I had a couple one time and the man was trouble from the moment he got on the bus. He was shouting abuse and giving out about having fallen on a bus the day before, so I told him he would have to get off if he didn't stop," he said.

"He stopped for a while but then started again, and when I opened the doors and told him to get off he came up to the screen and spat over it twice into my face."

Demanded

While drivers have said violence usually occurs at night, one driver had an experience three weeks ago where a man tried to smash the screen between him and the passenger at 7.30am.

"I was out at Blanchardstown Shopping Centre and this guy got on and said he had no money but demanded I take him to the city," said Dave Murray (54), from Crumlin.

"When I explained that I couldn't he tried to bash his way into the cab to get me. It's very frightening when that happens and I had to call the gardai."

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