Coach operator Hannon Transport vows to 'keep fighting' for Derry-Belfast express bus service

Hannon Coach has said it is hopeful its proposed express bus service between Belfast and Derry will become operational

THE director of Hannon Coach has vowed to "keep fighting" to secure an express bus service between Belfast and Derry.

A permit for the proposed route, which planned to operate up to 20 times a day and represented a £4 million investment from the company, was refused by the Department for Infrastructure last month, but managing director Aodh Hannon has told the Irish News "it's not over".

"I don't want anyone to lose heart, we're going to keep fighting for it and we're going to get it hopefully," he said.

Mr Hannon explained that the company will meet with the department next week to discuss its reasons for refusing the application in the hope of a resolution.

"They gave us two very failed reasons for turning us down and we're meeting with them to discuss them. Watch this space, it's not over."

"They sent us two reasons for turning down our application. The first was that the fares were very similar to the current operator, but our fares are between 20 and 40 per cent cheaper. The second reason was because Translink is not making any money so I don't see how they can blame me on that one."

Hannon Coach has estimated the new route would increase annual visitors to Derry by 30 per cent and benefit the people and the businesses of the city to the tune of about £2.5m to £3.5m each year.

In refusing the application for a service permit from Hannon Coach the Department for Infrastructure said the Derry to Belfast route was "already adequately and economically serviced" and added that "the granting of a service permit for this application would have a negative impact on current Translink services".

"Ulsterbus is already operating at a significant loss year on year and the grant of the proposed Service Permit would have a detrimental effect on its finances," they added

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