South Dublin youngsters as young as nine are said to be the “most troublesome” group when it comes to anti-social behaviour on the Luas.

A report from Luas operators, Transdev, said that an area on south Dublin’s green line, past Sandyford, is one of the most problematic. LUAS operator, Transdev said that close to 1,000 incidents of antisocial or threatening behaviour on trams were reported in the first 10 months of this year.

Abuse ranging from disorderly behaviour to assault, with children between the ages of nine and 15 are causing the most problems.

Overall, anti-social behaviour and crime has decreased on the tram service over the last two years, but Transdev said they are still concerned about racism and abuse towards their staff.

Last month the National Rail and Bus Union have launched a campaign to highlight the need for a Garda Public Transport Police Unit to curb the alarming increase in anti-social behaviour and assaults on drivers, and this latest report has reignited that call.

Fianna Fail’s Dublin spokesperson, John Lahart TD said the situation must be urgently dealt with by establishing a Transport Police Unit.

Deputy Lahart said: “It’s clear from today’s statistics that antisocial issues on public transport services are not going away and that Minister Ross cannot continue to offload responsibility for addressing these challenges.

“Public transport operators such as Transdev are already spending in the region of €2.5 million on private security firms that have no power or authority in an attempt to contain incidents.

“Of course, we cannot legislate for bad manners or poor judgement but reports of racial and verbal abuse being experienced by LUAS staff and drivers are deeply upsetting.

“There must be a zero-tolerance approach to this behaviour.

“Private security firms may well offer some sense of reassurance to commuters, but they are not enough of a deterrent for those intent on causing disturbance. That can only be achieved by transport police,” said Deputy Lahart.

However local Senator Neale Richmond believes that a dedicated policing unit is not needed for the Luas.

He told Dublin Gazette: “LUAS caters for 109,000 commuters every day and while it is extremely popular, it caters for less people than Dublin Bus or the DART, so I do not think a dedicated policing unit is needed for LUAS.

“However, it is vital that An Garda Siochana and the private security personnel employed by LUAS operators employed by Transdev work closely together to police the LUAS line.

“Anti-social behaviour is a problem and I have raised the matter previously with Transdev in relation to LUAS track material being used as a tool for vandalism and worrying incidents at LUAS stops, particularly late at night.

“An expansion of LUAS CCTV, increased security provision and more Garda patrols of the stops are all required.”