How commuters were impacted around the country
Bus Éireann shared services to Cork, Derry and Belfast still operating
Dublin’s Bus Aras was unusually quiet – but not deserted – yesterday lunch time, as a steady trickle of passengers arrived for Translink services to Northern Ireland, which were still running.
Most of those who turned up appeared well informed about the strike. Aileen Flynn from Scotstown in Co Monaghan was with friends Noelle Finnegan from Cork and Danielle Roche from Rathfarnham, Dublin. They were eating sandwiches and chatting happily about Saturday night’s Beyonce concert in the O2.
Aileen was the only one of the group travelling by regional bus and was unsure who the operator was. “It is a Derry bus and its going to stop in Monaghan” she said nodding. “If not I would have got a train to Dundalk and asked someone to collect me. Its leaving at 1.30 pm”, she added, looking around her. For her friend Noelle the strike was not an issue. “I am going to Waterford on the train because I left a car there with a friend”she said. Danielle said a route 16 Dublin Bus would take her home.
In contrast Ann Fogarty, originally from Cork but now living in Dublin said her service to Carlow had been cancelled. She said she had booked on a bus to Carlow at 2pm to visit friends and was now planning to take a tram to Heuston Station and a 3pm train service to Carlow instead. She said she was not worried about coming back to Dublin as she planned “to stay a few days” and hopefully the strike would be over then.
Also in good form despite his service being cancelled was Alan Clarke from Wales who had booked on a 2.30pm service to Rosslare. He was switching to a train from Connolly Station at 1.30pm and was not facing severe disruption. He said he “always had a great time in Dublin”. However he said he would like to know if a refund of his ticket would be available.
A member of staff said Bus Éireann personnel had been in place since 5am advising passengers. “Most people seemed to know, they seemed to be well informed from the media” he said.
Andrew McLindon Bus Eireann press officer said cross-Border bus services were operated “half and half” by Bus Éireann and Translink. “They are still doing their half” he said and services were running to Belfast and Derry, and places in between. Mr McLindon said another shared service, an express service to Cork in conjunction with GoBus was also operating from Georges’ Quay.
Passengers who had prepaid for tickets should email Bus Eireann with proof of purchase and refunds would be considered, “within our terms and conditions” he said. The strike is expected to cost the company €350,000 per day, he said. TIM O’BRIEN
Bus Eireann’s main centre of operations in Cork was quiet yesterday as around a dozen members of the NBRU placed pickets on the Parnell Place Bus Office while another group of NRBU members picketed the company’s main garage on Capwell Road.
Members of the public appeared to have heeded warnings regarding industrial action with few turning up at the bus office yesterday morning but it’s expected the impact will be greater today as more commuters will have to make alternative arrangements to get to work.
Among those who did turn up yesterday at the Parnell Place Bus Office to discover no services were operating anywhere in the city or county were two Spanish men who were trying to get to work at the Cork Airport Business Park.
“I do not know much about this strike - the only thing I know is that it is affecting our work because now we have to take a cab to work - usually we take the bus to work but now with this strike, we must take the cab,” said one of the men who didn’t wish to be named.
Meanwhile one of the bus workers on the picket line, Owen Dunton who has been with the company for 33 years, spoke of his frustration at the proposals by Bus Eireann management to seek €5 million in costs saving measures as he revealed the impact it will have on him to Cork’s 96FM radio station.
“We’ve already lost €75 through all these levies the government has put on us and they are looking to take another €80 off us again and we cannot afford it - people have mortgages, they have families and we need to stand up and show the people we are not going to accept this anymore.”
Meanwhile Cork NBRU official John Moloney urged Minister for Transport, Leo Varadkar to take a step back and refrain from commenting on the dispute, saying that both union representatives and Bus Eireann management could work to find a resolution. Barry Roche
Frustration was in evidence across the West as the effects of the bus strike hit home.
Private bus operators reported a significant increase in passenger numbers.
But while the strike was well flagged, some passengers were unaware that it had started and were yesterday looking for alternative means of travelling.
Alan Naughton had bought a return ticket on Friday when he left his home in Ennis to spend the weekend with friends in Galway. Yesterday he turned up at Ceannt station just off Eyre Square to travel back.
“I knew nothing about the strike and if I had, I wouldn’t have bought a return ticket. Now I have to try to get a train and it’s going to cost me more money. I don’t even know if I will get a refund”, he said.
Alan, who works in retail sales in Ennis, had spent more than an hour waiting at the bus stop before he learned that the buses were not running.
“A taxi driver pulled up and told me about the strike. I think it’s ridiculous in this day and age. I’ll have to wait for another hour or more before I can get the train home”, he added.
John Flaherty from Ballygar in north Co Galway said finding alternative transport was difficult for a lot of rural areas.
“We have come to depend on the rural bus service so it is going to leave a lot of people stranded. Hopefully they will get it sorted out soon,” he said.
Some people who were due to travel home from work were impacted with Rosebelle Donpedro, who lives in Galway but works as a refugee counsellor in Limerick, deciding not to go home.
She considered getting the train from Limerick but found it would be difficult to get back for work on Monday.
“It is very inconvenient. I was due to travel home to Galway but will now have to stay in Limerick,” said Ms Donpedro. BRIAN McDONALD
Bus services across Limerick were also cancelled as around 30 local Bus Eireann drivers joined their comrades around the country on the picket line.
Dermot Healy, National Bus and Rail Union representative, said: “The strike began at around 4.30am when the first driver was due to go on service. The pickets went on and will remain on.”
He said the word from the NRBU head office, was to keep ther picket open.
“I don’t see any change in the next 24 to 48 hours. We’re still awaiting word from head office but as it stands, there’ll be no services operating at all again tomorrow (Monday).”
Mr Healy, who represents 110 drivers in Limerick, where pickets were staged at Colbert bus and rail station, and at the Roxboro Bus Eireann depot, said: “Its unfortunate that we are forced down this particular road again. The changes Bus Eireann are trying to introduce unilaterally are very severe.”
“The drivers I represent feel the burden is being disporportionally put on our shoulders, in order to alleviate Bus Eireann’s financial problems.” David Raleigh
Commuters at the Bus Eireann station in Letterkenny, Co Donegal were left annoyed but not incapacitated by the strike.
A traditionally large supply of private bus operators meant there was little impact on commuters.
Those who did turn up at the station at the Port Roundabout were met by signs posted on the window of the station apologising for the industrial action.
The automatic ticket dispenser at the station had also been disabled to prevent people from purchasing tickets for which there were no services.
Private bus companies including John McGinley and Feda O’Donnell operate a range of services to both Dublin and Galway and park just across from the station. Other private bus operators were running internal services across the county.
For one Dublin man, the only worry was that he had been left out of pocket. John Culley had purchased a return ticket to visit friends and arrived in Letterkenny last Thursday. “It’s a little annoying that I bought a return ticket and can’t get a bus now. I’ll have to pay for a single with one of the private operators now.
“I’ll be letting Bus Eireann know and hopefully I can get a refund. It’s the least they can do I think,” he said.
Another couple, Peter and Mary Dunston, from New York, had been staying in Gaoth Dobhair with friends and had got a lift to the station in Letterkenny.
“We honestly didn’t know the service was cancelled. We got return tickets ten days ago.
“We’ll take an alternative bus. We’ll be out the money but we don’t care. We’re meeting friends in Dublin tonight before flying home tomorrow.
“It’s only a small hiccup. We had a great holiday - apart form the weather,” smiled Peter. Stephen Maguire