‘I calmly told him 'When I get to the next bus stop I'll stop' and I was told 'You'll stop the f****ing now you stupid b***h'’
Dublin Bus drivers have been assaulted 429 times in the last five years, shocking new figures released to Sinn Féin show.
"My last incident was just over a week ago," driver Kathleen Owens told Newstalk Breakfast this morning.
Drivers also had to deal with 3,344 anti-social behaviour incidents during the same time frame.
"[I was] quite happily doing my job, going into work and driving the bus, and before I knew it I just heard an almighty roar: 'Stop, stop the f***ing bus' - top volume all over a full bus of people.
"I looked in my rear view mirror, there was a man - a grown, mature man - thundering up the middle of the bus.”
Kathleen said these encounters are “extremely intimidating” and puts huge amounts of pressure on her while she tries to keep the bus moving.
"It definitely took me by surprise, I'll say that much, but I had to obviously try and keep control of a bus full of people who were obviously as shocked as I was.
"It was extremely intimidating, and then when I pulled in at the bus stop he said 'Open the f***ing door' and I said 'I'll open the door now when the police come - I've had enough of this'.
"One woman said to him 'Leave her alone, she's just doing her job' and she was told 'Zip it you interfering b***h' - and I thought now he's abusing my passengers."
She said the Gardaí are already inundated with calls and when they arrived to get a handle on the situation on Kathleen’s bus they had to apologise.
"They eventually came [and] apologised for the delay, because it was their third callout that evening and it only just past 8 o'clock," she said.
"I just thought why are we putting up with this on a regular basis?
"Of course you're rattled, it's only natural. You're confronted with something like that it's going to rattle you,” she told Newstalk listeners.
"I was asked by the Garda what I wanted to do, and I said at that point 'My position is I'm a bus driver, it's my job - my directive is to get my passengers to their destination in a safe and timely manner' so I carried on."
Kathleen pleaded with people to "have a bit of empathy” ad Dublin Bus drivers “are just in doing our job.”
"I listened to a show there the other day where the transport companies are fined because there's no service going into certain communities.
"The fact is our employers are trying to protect us - it's a vicious circle and it needs to change", she added.
A driver shortage has already forced a delay in the roll out of new bus routes in Dublin, including new 24-hour services, it emerged in early October.
"The network redesign is moving along almost to plan; we've had to slow down a little bit this year - even during Covid we introduced two phases as well,” he told Newstalk.
"So we have actually kept the network redesign running pretty well.
"Bus companies at the minute are all suffering the same driver shortage, which is why this service is a little bit later than we had hoped - there is a general driver shortage across the country.”