Sexual assaults and violent attacks are among scores of crimes which were committed on buses in Lancashire over the past year.
An Evening Post investigation has found there have been 64 crimes involving buses across the county, including unprovoked attacks, numerous sexual assaults and yobs smashing windows.
But only around one in three criminals who committed crimes on the county’s bus network in the year to May 2012 were brought to justice.
Figures obtained using the Freedom of Information Act found just 20 out of 64 cases resulted in someone being charged or punished.
The figures reveal how, in one incident in Blackpool Road, Lea, Preston, yobs poured shampoo over a passenger, the seats, floor and windows, before smashing a window.
In another incident, a lone woman was subjected to an unprovoked attack on a bus travelling on Garstang Road, Preston, and in another case a man smashed the window of a bus in Gressingham, Lancaster, after a row with a driver.
Nobody was brought to justice in any of the incidents.
Derek Barton, 65, regional secretary of the North West Pensioners’ Association, said: “It’s an absolute disgrace that incidents like this can happen in such a public place, but I don’t know what you do to tackle it except maybe go back to having a driver and a conductor again.”
Joe Hannett, general manager with Preston Community Transport, said one of their customers gave up using public transport after being subjected to abuse.
He said: “She suffers from a balance problem, which can make her appear drunk, and had been called names on the bus. It made her feel very frightened.
“Our service is there for people like her, who feel they can’t or aren’t able to use public transport.”
Pensioner Julie Chadwick, 73, of Penwortham, fears some elderly users could become isolated because of the problems. The Age Concern volunteer said: “I gave my car up eight years ago and rely on the bus. I know people do have problems on the bus – one person told me they were travelling to Ribbleton when vandals were throwing stones at the bus. It’s a shock to see these figures.”
Between June 2011 and May this year, 64 crimes were recorded on the county’s bus network. The incidents led to 10 charges, one fixed penalty notice, four summons’, three reprimands and two people facing restorative justice.
Police said they were unable to give exact details about the outcomes of each case.
However, in one of the most serious allegations a man is due to stand trial later in the year accused of various sexual assaults on buses in the north of the county.
Bus bosses admit more needs to be done but said overall crime is on the decline.
John Asquith, operations manager with Preston Bus, said: “We are fortunate incidents are on the decline and that is as a result of the action police have taken over the years.
“A lot of the incidents involve stone throwing and if it’s a dark evening and the offenders are wearing hoods the police have difficulty identifying individuals.”
Mr Asquith said CCTV cameras are now fitted to around 90% of their buses, capturing images of each passenger as they board.
Insp Nick Emmett, from Lancashire Police said: “Offences on or against buses in Preston are not commonplace and it continues to be a safe way to travel.
“However, when incidents do occur they are thoroughly investigated and intelligence is regularly shared.”