Browse content similar to The Bus Awakens. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
City tours, folks. Hop-on, hop-off.
Please stop harassing these women.
It's like a dog-eat-dog show out there, you know?
People want people on their buses and they'll do anything sometimes
to, you know, provoke you.
THEY SPEAK OVER EACH OTHER
I do apologise. I'm trying to speak to you,
but this guy keeps interrupting.
There's a gold rush on the streets of Belfast.
That's our eighth bus that's gone out now, full top and bottom.
Bring it on.
I can sell snow to the Eskimos,
sand to the Arabs,
and fries to us boys.
Not a problem.
Last year, well over two million people visited Northern Ireland.
I'm looking forward to see something about Titanic.
Some wanted to see the sights.
It's a very impressive city, isn't it?
It's very impressive, yes, it is. Very beautiful.
Some came to soak up the TV stardust.
That's the fathers' names.
And some were returning to a place they haven't seen in a lifetime.
Oh, my goodness. I am home, aren't I?
This is the inside story of Northern Ireland's bus wars.
From the tourists who come here...
I've been to some of the other wonders of the world -
this definitely ranks right up there. It was fantastic.
The clutch is out a bit.
..to the parts of the business that nobody else gets to see.
The way the tours are run in Belfast at the moment, it's really a war.
Welcome to Bus Wars.
Northern Ireland's north coast.
This beautiful scenery now attracts tourists from all around the world.
And when they come here, somebody has to show them around.
Who ate all the biscuits?
Right, more biscuits.
Back in a minute.
Benn Allen has been running bus tours in Northern Ireland
for nearly a decade.
INTERVIEWER: What would you describe yourself as?
That's a good way of putting it.
He works on a tight budget.
Probably cost me £400 for that.
We've got them sitting around.
It probably cost us three quid.
He would go to the scrapyard and come home with stuff
that we would look at like normal people would look at it.
Like, they wouldn't be in the bus industry, and be like, "What is that? That's rubbish."
That's worth a few pound there.
Clean that up and you would probably get 50 quid for it online.
But, to him, everything's valuable and he finds a use for all the
wee, smallest parts, you know. But, yeah, he really loves his buses.
I don't know why, but he does.
Have you checked in, yeah?
Oh, yes, yes, sure. Go in the minibus, that's no problem. OK.
Some people have booked online while we were asleep last night,
so we come in this morning, we've, er, technically, no room for them,
so we might have to put an extra vehicle on just to facilitate them.
Although I'm using older vehicles,
the vehicles I'm using are like the Rolls-Royce of coaches.
By the time they've sat on it for half an hour, they realise
this thing isn't going to pack in or anything, they're grand.
I've only got a few seats left, so I'm going to fill them and you're
going to fill up and Rhys is going to take anything that's left.
Do four at a time.
The aim is to be the biggest and best tour company in Belfast.
By running it cheaper, by running it free,
by doing a better service.
Whatever it takes along those lines.
Just go...see, if you go into the hostel there across the road.
There's a wee office around the side, go and ask there...
But Benn has serious competition.
He's supposed to be on the other company that operates across the
road, so he got on the wrong bus.
McComb's luxury coach tours are amongst his arch-rivals.
We're not allowed to talk about 'em, cos there's an injunction.
I'm digging those ones out...
Benn has been at loggerheads with husband-and-wife team
Caroline and Rodney McComb for years.
The police had to be called quite a lot and it was becoming a constant
thorn in our side, the things that he done.
It ended up we had to take civil action against him.
We spent £30,000.
I have to say, it's been worth every penny.
Benn sees it differently.
Well, the reason we fell out was cos I used to work for him and then
I set up in competition against him.
I felt that I could do things better than the way they were doing it.
McComb's have been in the coach tour business for 20 years.
They see themselves as the best of the best.
And when you step back from it and look, you know, there's really...
there's not enough depth to get something that's round like that
on to it, I don't think.
And I'm not happy with my brand there with then another brand
on top of it.
Everything for us is about quality.
It's just all about making everything a bit higher-end, you know?
We've got a water dispenser here.
We've got a wee WC here.
We've got the wee fridges here as well and we've got our
branded McComb's water as well.
I think this is as close to five-star as it gets, yeah.
Last year, McComb's took 70,000 people to see the Causeway Coast.
Ireland is beautiful. The Irish people are very pleasant,
courteous and gentle.
That is what I have liked about Ireland.
But there is nothing gentle about what's happening behind the scenes.
The way the tours are run in Belfast at the moment, it's really a war.
And, this year, McComb's are upping the ante with a new,
secret weapon in the bus wars.
It's a brand-new venture for us.
It's something completely different.
Have you got some wee proofs for me for the graphics on the side of it?
We're quite excited about it. We think it will do very well.
Oh, here, there's a cracker.
But Benn has plans of his own.
It's a continuous battle.
You cannot sit down for one day.
Somebody has changed a leaflet or price -
well, I'm usually the one who gets the blame for doing that.
I'll add like a wee bit extra into a tour, or drop the price a wee bit
and then the other companies all go mad.
"Benn's destroying it for us all. We could all be making a fortune here,
"but Benn's doing these things for half price. What's that all about?"
I just like to see plenty of people on the buses, you know,
enjoying themselves, getting a bargain.
It's early summer.
Expecting a very busy day, hopefully.
There a cruise ship coming in. There's like 3,000 passengers on it,
so it's going to be busy enough and, hopefully, the sun comes out.
The Caribbean Princess is the first big cruise ship of the season
to dock in Belfast.
The code of conduct that we adhere to, again just a reminder,
good behaviour at all times.
You're here to give information as much as sell tickets as well...
City Sightseeing Tours is an international brand
that operates in cities across the world.
The staff need to know it's a very important time for the company.
Every single penny counts because we have a fairly small window
of opportunity to make our money during the summer.
The cruise ship industry didn't exist in Belfast until
just a few years ago, but times have changed.
This summer alone there will be 82 cruise ships docking in the city.
We are a group of people from all over the world.
Some of them are from Boston, some from LA, some from Santiago.
And then some from Taiwan, some from Brazil, some from Canada.
We have a group of 66.
The Causeway tour companies, including McComb's,
are on their way up the coast.
Others are headed for Belfast.
Can't wait to see Belfast and do some shopping.
Get some things there, yeah.
Yeah, she wants to spend my American money here.
Music to the ears of City Sightseeing's ticket sellers.
But, today, they won't have things all their own way.
There's a competitor in town.
We are sales representatives
of Titanic and City Tour of Belfast.
Cruise ship's in, happy days, job's easy!
There's that many people about, you don't have to ask them.
They tap you on the shoulder and say, "Where does the bus leave?"
So you're up and down. Like there -
three guys walking down the street already, so.
Owen makes me laugh every day I come into work.
I just like to see his big, chuckling face every morning.
This is the best job in the world.
Do you want to do a little sightseeing tour, girls?
Not sure. Can we have a map and have a look?
For tourists, telling the difference between the two companies
is almost impossible.
Both wear red.
They're the same.
It's all one company.
Black's been tried.
Yellow's been tried, blue's been tried, green's been tried.
Doesn't work. The only colour that's recognised round the world for bus tours is red.
They own the City Sightseeing franchise.
They don't own the colour red.
Global monster, local company.
This one goes to Stormont, that one goes to Belfast Castle.
But, as I say, both leave from the exact same place.
Please stop harassing these women!
You're on camera!
Hop-on, hop-off city tour.
We would be selling our tour, they would be selling their tour,
and it's a lot of information for tourists to take in.
So, the tourists will be confused, and sometimes they would walk away.
Other tourists would come, we'd do the exact same,
and they'd have a laugh with you.
Cos I like the arguing.
Sightseeing tour. Hop-on, hop-off.
-Have you got your tickets?
Have a wee read over that, ma'am.
They're all the same, right?
No, they're not the same.
-The British ones, they ask you to fight!
Oh, aye! Oh, yeah, yeah.
Saying, "Our friends were here three years ago and they said
"yous were going to have fisticuffs.
"We're here now and you're being nice to each other.
-"What's that all about?"
-I'm not joking.
"Whoever wins the fight, we'll go on that tour."
City tour, folks.
Hop-on and hop-off today.
If yous wanted to do the bus tour,
I would give you a few pounds off, so I would. If yous wanted to do it.
Owen prides himself on selling more tickets than anyone else on the
street, whether it's the opposition, or his own colleagues.
..and also, we can get you discount getting into the Titanic museum.
I can sell snow to the Eskimos,
sand to the Arabs
and fries to us boys.
Not a problem!
How much is it? £8.
-It's normally £12.50.
-Shall we do it?
Yeah, we'll do that.
Come on ahead, I'll take yous down to the bus, ladies.
Oh, OK. Now he's going to take us. See you later!
I'm not happy about that.
I was talking to these guys first and you pinched them.
Wait just a minute.
I know you're my boss, but see, at the end of the day,
see when you're good, you're good. Do you know what I mean?
I'm disappointed in that. Glory hunter he is, girls, glory hunter.
I've got the gift of the gab. I'll learn you.
See with me, you're a valued customer.
When you go with him, you're just a number.
Yeah, that's one of the sayings I learnt him!
When the weather's good and the season's in,
the pressure's on you, big time.
Yeah, come with me, then.
You've got to keep your numbers up.
You've got to keep going in the summertime.
-Cos you have to build a nest egg for when winter comes.
-You're like a wee squirrel...
-Thanks very much, mate.
..hiding your nuts!
It's a different company here.
City Sightseeing Belfast.
Uh-oh! That's your competition?
There's no competition. Locally owned.
Martin would be, probably the best salesman in our company,
in my opinion.
Also, we've been best friends from a young age,
So, that wee bit of competitiveness is always there.
..and they don't focus on the Troubles as much as we do.
Instead, they take you out of the city, up the mountain,
show you Belfast Castle.
Focus on a wee bit about the Blitz, World War II.
Now, it was a tragedy when it happened, but, really,
Northern Ireland had nothing to do with World War II.
That's why we don't focus on it.
Well, the Luftwaffe thought so!
They did, they did!
Well, that's why they ended up having to use the docks in Derry.
We want to see that castle.
Yeah, you want to see that castle?
If you want to see that castle, I can put you on a free tour...
Folks, if you'll follow me!
I'm with the castle.
Follow me, folks.
I was feeling good I got one over him. I couldn't have let it there.
He'll have had one over me, so he would've.
-It was lovely meeting you.
These are very nice people as well.
-No problem, sir.
And this is what it's all about.
Belfast from the top of a bus.
-Botanic Gardens and the University on the left.
An absolutely stunningly beautiful building,
built by Charles Lanyon to try to emulate the English universities.
My name's Brian English,
I've been a tour guide now for about eight years.
-Need a map?
-We have a map.
You have a map. Are yous doing the Titanic experience?
I love the job. It's never felt like work to me.
In fact, the very first week I did it,
it dawned on me that I was doing something I loved.
I was getting to talk about it.
'Give, in many cases, my opinion or my take on it,
'and I was getting paid for it at the end of it.'
The easiest way to remember the Belfast accent,
is they change their vowels.
The vowel O becomes the vowel A.
So, "stop" is "stap".
-"Shop" is "shap".
"Mop" is "map".
Whenever I go home, all my family want me to do is shut up.
"Please, please, don't tell us anything about Belfast!"
And the As becomes Es, as well.
So a "flag" is a "fleg".
But we don't talk about flags!
That's pretty good.
An older crowd,
they're usually interested in the history of Northern Ireland,
the history of Ireland, politics, West Belfast,
the Falls and the Shankill,
the names that they've heard of throughout their lives.
The trouble, er, trouble zone or something like that?
Yeah, that's of interest to us.
The wall? You're talking about the wall?
The peace wall, the peace wall.
They're usually including motorways,
dual carriageways and roundabouts that are strategically positioned.
This wall would have started life as a series of burnt out double-decker
buses, dividing Catholic from Protestant parts of streets.
They've grown up with hearing about Northern Ireland on the news.
They've never, ever thought of coming,
because it was too dangerous.
Now, they've got the opportunity and they're wanting to come.
You might be able to see hanging off the lamppost, a flag.
And once we get past the traffic lights...
This is the Catholic. Yeah, this is the...
they call it Republican Belfast.
Look at the fencing as well.
This is the largest peace wall we have.
It's like a prison.
I still dinnae understand why they've still all got the flags.
Kind of, like, hanging from the lampposts.
Coming up on the left now is a paramilitary mural
where the gunmen are not wearing masks.
That usually means one thing -
the characters depicted on that mural are all already dead.
I'll never use Protestant or Catholic again.
I'll use Unionist
So, there's a big difference.
No, that's great.
Today is also a big day for Benn Allen.
All right, Alf. How's you?
-How about you?
Ah, not too bad. We're doing a cruise ship here and
sorting it all out.
Benn's attitude towards running a company, he's smart in some ways,
but, in other ways, he just needs to rein it in a bit.
-I'll take you over to the bus here now if you want.
Come on ahead.
Just follow me here.
Today, Benn is trying to lure tourists away from the open-top bus companies
and onto his bus coach for a tour of the Causeway.
Yeah, come on ahead.
And, to do that, he has a secret weapon.
Welcome to Belfast.
Meet Chi Wah.
How are you doing, blondie?
Welcome to Belfast, folks.
Where are you guys from?
First impressions count, you know?
To the Causeway?
Well, we're talking about 20 yards, from here to the bus.
One yard, this size. Two yards, this size.
Sorry, I didn't catch you.
Probably better with Chinese, no?
Is that better? Or are you more comfortable with English?
Chi Wah has been working for Benn Allen for nine years.
Well, I first met him, believe it or not,
in an arcade machine establishment
about 23 years ago.
So, how long have you been in Belfast?
-Oh, born and bred in Newtownards, believe it or not...
-..in '76, and then I moved to Belfast in '81...
..and I've been here ever since.
Chi's a bit of a character, like.
He's very well known across Northern Ireland.
He's almost a landmark.
-I'll see you in a minute, now.
-Keep an eye on the clock.
Time flies, OK.
He's a bit like Marmite as well.
People seem to either love him or hate him.
There's no in between!
But, er, where's he gone?
Oh, no, he's still there.
If you give me the ten back, I'll give you four. Maybe.
Four little coins.
-Four little coins.
-Four little gold coins, now.
Chi Wah has done his job.
Benn is off to the Causeway with a full bus.
Just before we leave, has everybody got everybody with them?
Nobody has left their husband or their wife or anything like that behind?
No? Everybody here that wants to be here? Good, good.
Some of Benn's competitors have a head start.
McComb's run a tour of the north coast every day.
Me, my mom, my brother, my grandparents, three generations,
we just want to see where we're from, I guess. Our ancestry.
Today, Megan and her family from Canada have come on
a McComb's coach tour.
I'm mostly looking forward to all the scenery, cos you see all the
postcards and everything from Ireland and I want to see that part of it.
I've been wanting to do this my whole life.
So, it's great coming over.
It's been a dream of mine, and my brothers, as well.
We've heard about all of the places.
You know, my mum and dad cycling up to youth hostels all the time,
up to Giant's Causeway.
What is it, Dad? Portrush?
There used to be a youth hostel
around this area.
I told the kids about it, so we had to come and see it.
Yeah, so we just...we can now actually put a place
to all the stories.
We've heard about it, but now it just feels like...
Feels like we've been here, although we've never been here before.
Jim hasn't seen the North Antrim coast in over 50 years.
But the people haven't changed.
INTERVIEWER: Does it still feel like home?
It was like coming home.
Yes, it was.
Especially coming up here.
This is my old hunting ground.
The easiest way is down the bottom.
See the red brick building?
We sell bus tours, but five times every hour,
you're directing people to the passport office...
-You're a bus tour seller and you're an information guide.
That's what you are.
That's exactly it.
We're a mobile information point.
Do you know what I mean?
Well, with your bad feet, you're not too mobile, but...
Joan is taking a tour with City Sightseeing.
She's been in town for a week with her two Canadian nieces.
I was eight years old when I went to Canada.
I've never been back, till now, and I'm 68 years old.
They're here to research their family history.
You've come to figure out,
"Where do I come from, who am I, and what am I passing on to my kids?"
You want to know what your background is.
-You want to know your heritage.
-I think that's important, too.
We don't know our grandfather's family at all.
We have no idea yet.
We just have names.
-Look at the ceiling.
-All the way round.
Today, at Ravenhill Presbyterian Church, they've come to find out
more about their family.
What a beautiful church for being so old.
Some of their ancestors were baptised, married and buried here.
Getting off the plane and as soon as you hit the airport and
the guy that took my passport said,
"Hello, how are you this morning?" I went...
That was that feeling that, "Oh, my goodness, I am home, aren't I?"
You know, to hear the voice. It was unbelievable.
The marriage did take place here.
-There's a small tunnel. Through the tunnel.
-OK, so it's one kilometre.
Yes, but that's an Irish kilometre, so it feels like about six miles.
We thought it was awesome.
I've been to some of the other wonders of the world.
It definitely ranks right up there.
It was fantastic.
MUSIC: Chocolate by Snow Patrol
# All these places
# Feel like home... #
A few miles away, Megan is getting ready for a challenge.
I have heard about the rope bridge.
I'm afraid of heights,
but I think I'm going to try to do it anyway.
I know my grandparents have both been across it multiple times,
so if they can do it, I can do it.
The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is suspended 100 feet
above the rocks below.
Oh, I forgot I had to come back.
I forgot I had to come back.
Brendan, are you shaking it?
You aren't even shaking it.
You made it.
Mom did better than I did.
Oh, today was... My goodness it was hard going today.
A lot of competition, but it's all a learning experience.
And thank God we got a lovely day, which is half the battle, you know.
Today was fantastic.
It was beautiful. We finally got to see the country of Ireland.
All of our other stops, we just got to see the city and
we wanted to see the greenery.
Once you hit maybe 150 people on a cruise ship day,
you're starting to make money.
Anything after that's a profit.
And we've probably done maybe 250-300 people today,
which is a good day.
Everything went well, customers seem to be really happy,
and they're all safely back on the ship there, probably sipping
pina coladas or something like that by now, and, er...
I don't take it home. It stays in work, you know?
I go home, have a nice something to eat.
-Have a nice beer.
Lobster, crab, octopus.
I have it all. That's how I relax.
Dennis, what have you got for me?
You've found three in total?
John Crooks Garret, yes.
May 30th '09.
For Joan and her nieces, the missing pieces of the family jigsaw
are falling into place.
That's the father's names.
The father is James Brakey Garret.
We always thought his son was James Brakey.
Tanya has a completely new sense of where she's come from.
After this trip, I feel more passionate about where...
Like, Northern Ireland, and I feel passionate and loyal to that history, so...
Well, I'm pretty loyal to Belfast, cos I never did change my status.
I'm still a British subject.
-I never took out Canadian citizenship.
Even though I've been there since I was eight years old,
I'm still a British subject.
So, I love my country.
Love where I came from.
And I will keep it.
With more and more visitors coming to Belfast,
Benn Allen sees an opportunity.
Until a few years ago, his company made a lot of money
providing open-top bus tours of Belfast city.
It looks great, doesn't it?
It's one of my old buses.
But Benn turned his back on the city
to focus on tours of the north coast.
Now, he thinks that was a mistake -
and that it's time for a comeback.
The bottom line really is that I want to get my buses back and
get back into the town here and make some money.
But, to do that, he may have a fight on his hands.
-We're the kings of this town, Alfie.
Just for the record, Benn,
don't even think about putting another bus company
into the city centre.
Not a chance of it.
What was that?
What's that, your Chucky face?
# Thought that I'd be happy
# Going to be so happy
# Living life alone
# And never sharing anything
# Thought that I was finished
# Thought that I was complete
# Thought that I was whole
# Instead of being half of something... #