Bus strike: Cork businesses ‘losing €50m in revenue’

Bus Éireann dispute would be solved by now if it was affecting Dublin, says businessman

Joan Lucey, of Cork business Vibes & Scribes, says she has experienced a 10% hit in sales due to the ongoing Bus Éireann strike. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Joan Lucey, of Cork business Vibes & Scribes, says she has experienced a 10% hit in sales due to the ongoing Bus Éireann strike. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

 

There may not be tumbleweeds rolling down Patrick Street but the impact that the strike by Bus Éireann drivers is having on business in Cork city is more than evident.

Many traders are reporting footfall is down by 25 per cent and revenues estimated to be down by several million euros.

Into its 20th day, the strike has reinforced the perception shared by most traders on Leeside – and indeed the local travelling public – that Cork is a place apart from Dublin – and not in a good way.

Cork Business Association chief executive Lawrence Owens says that the organisation is hearing from its 200-plus members that business is down by between 25 per cent and 50 per cent. He estimates the loss in revenue to city businesses is “somewhere north of €50 million”.

He says small businesses like barbers and coffee shops in particular are taking a “huge hit” .

Divided country

The English Market trader who famously traded quips about fish with Queen Elizabeth and president of the Cork Business Association Pat O’Connell is firm in his view that if this strike was affecting Dublin Bus or the Dart, it would have been resolved by now.

“I am afraid our country is divided in two these days. You have a Dublin-centric view of things where anything outside the M50 is a different world that people don’t worry too much about.”

He says the impact on footfall is particularly evident on Friday and Saturday when the English Market would normally be bustling with people.

“We would really notice it on a Friday because in the fish business, you would still have older customers who would traditionally keep it as a fast day but we’re noticing it’s way down.

Eddie Mullins,managing director of Fitzgerald’s Menswear, was expecting Easter holidays business to be booming. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision
Eddie Mullins,managing director of Fitzgerald’s Menswear, was expecting Easter holidays business to be booming. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

“It’s very noticeable with our older customers who obviously get a bus in. For a lot of these people going into town shopping on a Friday, it might be their only trip out in the week . It might be their only chance to meet their friends for a coffee but who gives a damn, it’s not Dublin.”

Among the many traders feeling the impact is Joan Lucey, who owns Vibes and Scribes Bookshop on Lavitt’s Quay and Vibes and Scribes Crafting Supplies on Bridge Street.

Concerned

“We’re lucky in that we also sell our crafting supplies online but looking at our figures we’re still down 10 per cent across both shops and I can pinpoint that to the days when the buses weren’t running,” she said.

Eddie Mullins, of Fitzgerald’s Menswear on Patrick Street, is equally concerned, particularly given that he fully expected business would be booming during Easter holidays.

“We don’t rely on the same footfall perhaps as places like coffee shops but we still rely on people travelling in from places like Midleton and Kinsale and doing a bit of shopping, maybe going for lunch in the market and buying some clothes but looking out this morning there’s nothing happening.

“The bus lines are like veins through the city for us and the lifeblood are the people on the buses. I see taxis are flat out but people’s main concern is getting to and from work and recreational shopping is well down their list of priorities,” he said.