Tram, train crisis: ‘If it’s not aerosols, it’s shoe glue’

 

A CITY councillor wants the State Government to create a uniformed marshal service to clamp down on drug users and fare evaders on Gold Coast trains, trams and buses.

Fed up with ongoing vandalism and poor behaviour, Robina councillor Hermann Vorster has written to Transport and Main Roads director-general Neil Scales demanding a crackdown.

Cr Vorster says TransLink's existing security team needs to be revamped as a uniformed marshal service with the power to handcuff offenders and remove them from trains and stations.

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Aerosol cans used for drug abuse fond discarded in a railway station carpark.
Aerosol cans used for drug abuse fond discarded in a railway station carpark.

"TransLink's senior officer program needs to be completely rebooted and reformed into a new public transport marshal service," he said.

"I want more officers in more locations catching fare evaders and running drug users off our public transport.

"I propose these marshals have a striking new uniform which instantly tells troublemakers there will be consequences. I believe the State Government should be focused on public transport rather than transporting public nuisance.

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Cr Hermann Vorster. Picture: Jerad Williams
Cr Hermann Vorster. Picture: Jerad Williams

"The urgency and severity of this public transport network safety crisis was laid bare to me by the community contacting me with a flood of complaints."

Transport Minister Mark Bailey is dismissing a "snappily dressed quasi-police force".

Fare evasion is costing the State about $25 million each year.

The number of youths being treated in the city's emergency departments for "chroming" has doubled in two years, according to Gold Coast Health figures released in late 2019.

Police say the chemical abuse is particularly rampant among children between the ages of 11 and 13.

Aerosol cans dumped by a tree in the Broadwater Parklands at Southport.
Aerosol cans dumped by a tree in the Broadwater Parklands at Southport.

Chroming involves inhaling chemicals from aerosols to give a short but intense high. It has become popular because the cans are cheap and easily accessible.

Cr Vorster said he had been inundated with complaints, not only from the public but transport workers about it and other bad behaviour.

A tram driver who wrote to Cr Vorster painted a bleak picture: "I drive trams and witness it every day. I literally mean every single day.

"If it's not aerosols then it's shoe glue in an empty Coke bottle. They do it in front of anyone else catching the tram and don't care," the driver wrote.

Images obtained by Cr Vorster show piles of aerosol cans and other sprays used in solvent abuse dumped outside a railway station.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey.

Transport Minister Mark Bailey insisted there were "clearly enough eyes" on the network, citing TransLink's senior network officers, Queensland Rail's Railway Squad and Queensland Police.

"In 12 months, all three agencies have participated in high-profile operations at the Robina Town Centre bus interchange and Helensvale train station," he said. "We prioritise safety of passengers and these operations demonstrate our agencies already work well together to do that.

"Cr Vorster's suggestion to duplicate existing resources with a new, snappily dressed quasi-police force would not be effective. His characterisation of public transport commuters as a 'nuisance' is regrettable and low grade to say the least."

Mr Bailey said more than 12,000 CCTV cameras were on the network and monitored 24-7.

Cr Vorster has campaigned for retail giants Coles and Woolworths to treat aerosol cans like cigarettes and lock them behind counters.

 

Originally published as Tram and train crisis: 'If it's not aerosols, it's shoe glue'



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