A private bus company that wants to introduce a new direct service between Belfast and Londonderry says they will be complementing Translink’s existing service rather than competing with it.
Hannon Coach – based in Aghalee in Co Antrim – have submitted plans to link Northern Ireland’s two largest cities with an express service as well as provide buses for people trying to get home from concerts and events at night.
Translink currently runs a Goldline Service which makes seven stops between Belfast and Londonderry. The journey takes one hour and 50 minutes. The same train journey takes an extra 25 minutes.
Hannon Coach marketing manager Owen McLaughlin said his company would not be able to match Translink’s money-saving options for weekly or monthly travel, but they were aiming to provide competitive fares for people who want to make leisure trips in the shortest time possible – 10 minutes less than the Goldline bus service.
He confirmed Hannon Coach – founded in February by Hannon Transport – submitted a proposal last week to the Department of Infrastructure to run a non-stop service between Belfast and Londonderry.
If approved Hannon’s buses would use Translink’s Europa Bus Centre in Belfast and Foyle Street Station in Londonderry.
Mr McLaughlin said: “We’re trying to stimulate demand so it needs to be convenient. Part of being convenient is the integration of networks. That’s what the department is set up for and that’s why you’ve got transport strategy.
“We’re not competing directly with Translink. It’s a complementary service.”
He added: “We’d also be seeking to serve key venues on week nights and weekends so you can come down from Derry to Belfast or vice versa, get dropped off for a concert and get picked up again without having to leave early to get public transport.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Infrastructure confirmed that former minister Chris Hazzard’s promise to introduce an hourly train service between Belfast and Londonderry would go ahead as planned this summer.
Mr McLaughlin commented: “What we would quite like to do is team up with Translink and offer an innovative ticket that would allow you to take the scenic route up to Derry on the train, then get one of our coaches straight back.”
A Translink spokesperson said: “We are aware of this application by Hannon Coach.
“We await the decision of the Department for Infrastructure.”