A new survey by the SIPTU Respect Transport Workers campaign has revealed the role increasing drug use and racism is playing in the epidemic of abuse and anti-social behaviour faced by staff on the public transport network.

The survey of more than 650 SIPTU members employed across the bus, rail and LUAS networks found that just under 80% of respondents said the issue of drug use by passengers on public transport had got worse in the last 12 months. Nearly three-quarters said that they witnessed drug abuse in their workplaces several times a month, while just under 20% said drug use was an issue they dealt with on a nearly daily basis.

More than 73% of respondents said they had felt threatened and unsafe due to the use of drugs by passengers. Most incidents reported were of cannabis use but significant numbers, between a quarter and a third of respondents, said they witnessed the use of cocaine, heroin and crack cocaine.

The survey also focused on the particular issues faced by ethnic minority community staff with more than three quarters reporting incidents of racist harassment and abuse while at work.