‘Rip-off Republic’ price variations have prompted new cross-border bus service to the North
A new bus service to facilitate cross-border shopping trips is about to be launched from Athlone on Saturday April 25 in direct response to price differences between retail outlets here and those in Northern Ireland. Borderbus.net is the opportunistic venture of budding entrepreneur, Sean O’Connor, who was recently made redundant. He came up with the idea after noticing the amount of Southern shoppers at supermarkets in the North:
“I travelled to Belfast a while back to buy some furniture from Ikea and had no choice but to hire a van as I couldn’t find any other way of getting my stuff home. The van worked out quite costly but we were very impressed with Ikea and on the way back down we stopped at Asda in Enniskillen and nearly fell over when we saw the price of a bottle of Paddy’s compared to our local off-licence. Everything from nappies to nachos seemed to be going for a song. It was then I had the light bulb moment and decided it was high time that people should be given a chance to get in on the act and save a few euro.
“The response so far has been excellent; lots of people had already been driving up to border towns on a regular basis and are delighted they can now let a bus driver do all the hard work.”
In response to the recent comments by Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan on it being ‘unpatriotic’ to shop in the North, Sean says, “Bus Eireann were advertising bus trips to Ikea in Belfast last year and, as we all know, they’re a semi-state body; but no-one accused them of being unpatriotic! I don’t think it’s fair that consumers down here should be made feel guilty for travelling North to get value for their money. “After all, northerners have been flocking south for years to take advantage of cheap fuel prices, exchange rates, etc, so why should we be berated for doing the same? People are sick to death of being ripped off and it’s about time they got some respect price-wise. We are talking about 30 to 50 per cent less for most items. Southern hotels and restaurants are offering some great deals at the moment – perhaps we wouldn’t need the BorderBus if retailers would cop on to the fact that it’s possible to drop prices and still make a profit. Thanks to the two Brians last week, the budget has also played into our hands and our office is busier than ever.’’ Borderbus.net plans to run cross-border shopping trips on a weekly basis. A Belfast / Ikea shopping service will also be launched on April 25. The overnight package costs €99pp sharing and will include return coach, B&B, and dinner in the new Ramada Encore Hotel in Belfast city centre, demonstrating real value for money.
An Athlone – Enniskillen route is planned for May 2 (€25 day return ) with the coach parked conveniently in Enniskillen allowing for baggage storage throughout the day.