Hannon Coach firm to help ease jams at SSE Arena on big nights with new service
Hannon Coach is joining forces with the Odyssey Trust to provide transport for concert and event-goers at Belfast's SSE Arena.
The company, which is based in Aghalee, Co Antrim, will provide a passenger drop-off and express exit route for coaches.
The coach business is a new venture for transport and steel operator Hannon Group, and will create up to 80 jobs by 2020.
It's hoped the commercial agreement with the Odyssey Trust will speed up the time it takes to get to and from the arena when big events - from ice hockey games to concerts - are taking place.
Customers have complained of gridlock around the SSE Arena and Odyssey complex before and after events.
Last year the Odyssey Trust said it hoped to invest more than £400,000 to improve roads access around the complex.
Hannon Coach managing director Aodh Hannon told the Belfast Telegraph that he hoped the coach service would eventually cover most parts of the province.
But he said he expected destination demand to vary according to the type of event taking place at the SSE Arena.
The deal will cover transport to Stena Line Belfast Giants matches and children's adventure centre W5, all managed by the Odyssey Trust.
Mr Hannon added: "We are excited about our partnership with the Odyssey Trust, which will see our business providing high quality transportation to the Odyssey site from key locations across Northern Ireland.
"The drop-off and express exit routes are central to the accessible and efficient service we are looking forward to providing.
"We will be operating regular and pre-bookable transportation links, which we want to become a real alternative to taking the car."
Hannon Group has been operating in transport and logistics for around 20 years.
As well as the new coach business, the firm operates in freight and has a steel operation. The group now employs around 350 people.
Nigel Robbins, commercial director for The Odyssey Trust, said: "This terrific partnership with Hannon Coach will bring increased transport options to the Odyssey site.
"We want to make it easy, safe and as convenient as possible for our customers to visit on a regular basis, for high profile events and frequent visits to the Belfast site.
"Hannon Coach offers a high quality service, one of Northern Ireland's youngest and most modern fleet of coaches.
"As a family business they are committed to customer service excellence. We look forward to working with them."
Last month a bid by Hannon Coach to obtain a licence to run an express coach service from Belfast to Londonderry - in competition with Translink - was rejected by the Department for Infrastructure.
The Belfast Telegraph revealed that the department stated it was "unable to issue a bus service permit" for a number of reasons.
The department said that due to the high level of existing service and fare levels, that it was "already adequately and economically served".