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Dublin: 22 °C Friday 7 August, 2020
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'In Cork, Bus Éireann is the equivalent to Dublin Bus. The strikes are hugely damaging'

In some regions, businesses are reporting a 50% drop in trade with bus networks down.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE BUS ÉIREANN strike has now stretched on for more than two weeks.

While both sides are still trying to hammer out a deal at the Workplace Relations Commission, many communities have been cut off without a crucial transport link.

The loss of services is also keenly felt by local businesses – which, in many cases, are starved of custom with people unable to make it to town centres and retail areas.

Cork

The effects of the dispute are perhaps most seriously felt in Ireland’s second city, where Bus Éireann provides much of the transport for getting around the town.

Retailers have been reporting empty streets and lower footfall as people struggle to get into the city centre.

“As time is moving on, the impacts of the strike are growing,” Cork Chamber of Commerce CEO Conor Healy told Fora. “In earlier phases, the main impact was that employees were finding it difficult to get to work.

“It has moved onto a stage where it is impacting the level of trade in Cork city centre. We have estimates at this point that trade is down by up to between 30% and 50%, which is hugely damaging.”

He added: “Bus Éireann provides the vast majority of Cork’s public transport infrastructure, there are about 40,000 people who use these services per day in Cork city.

“These people don’t have access and are effectively staying away. There are more cars on the road and less people on the streets.”

Healy said that if the strike continues for much longer it may end up causing job losses and causing “significant damage to businesses around Cork city”.

He added that the issue is likely less visible to the government and politicians when Dublin “is running as normal”.

“Cork doesn’t have alternatives that the capital has with the Dart and Luas, public transport is delivered by Bus Éireann,” he said.

“I think that there may not be a full realisation that, in Cork, Bus Éireann is the equivalent of Dublin Bus in terms of the role that they play.”

Limerick

Limerick City on the River Shannon at sunset. Limerick city Source: lukemcurley

Limerick Chamber head James Ring said that the organisation polled 70 shops on the effect that the strike was having and found that around half reported some impact, while about one-sixth said their trade was off between 20% and 25%.

“It has had a big impact on certain retailers,” he said.

While Limerick intercity travel is well-serviced by private operators, Ring said that people from the suburbs are finding it very tough to get into the town centre.

“A lot of the public transport is used by older people, and a lot of them are cut off, either they use (Bus Éireann) to get into town or they pay for a taxi, which isn’t an option that you can go for regularly on a pension,” he said.

“For many older people, it’s their only way of staying in touch with society in general.”

He added: “This is affecting retailers more than anyone else. They are finally getting some wind beneath their wings after the struggles of the recession, and this will hit them again. A prolonged strike is of no benefit to anyone.”

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Kerry

Fountain in the Tralee Green Fountain in the Tralee green Source: brookscl

Further south in Tralee, John Drummey, president of the local chamber alliance, said that there are still decent bus links running between Dublin and Kerry’s largest town.

However, he said that the strike “has had a negative impact on people from smaller towns coming into Tralee.”

Commuters from Listowel, Killarney and Dingle are finding it tough as their routes are disrupted, while students have also faced difficulties getting to college.

“I know that there will be a negative impact on students commuting home on weekends, especially in exam time,” he said.

“The business community hasn’t had a major impact yet as we presume people are making alternative arrangements, but this can’t happen long-term.”

He added: “There is a major €2 million investment in the town centre at the moment, and the (Bus Éireann strikes) have been coupled with roadworks.

“We just want to send out a message that Tralee is open for business and we want this resolved as soon as possible.”

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Written by Paul O’Donoghue and posted on Fora.ie

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