Hannon Coach starts £29 service to Glasgow in £1.75m investment
A Northern Ireland coach firm which is trying to challenge Translink's monopoly on public transport is investing £1.75m in a new coach service to Glasgow, it can be revealed.
Hannon Coach, headed by Aodh Hannon, is also applying for licences to run routes to locations including Newcastle, Armagh, Cookstown, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Omagh and Coleraine.
At the end of last year, it was revealed the company is seeking a judicial review over a decision to block its attempt to compete against Translink on the Belfast to Londonderry route.
Now, the firm plans a direct coach service between Belfast and Glasgow, starting next month.
The new service is backed by an investment of £1.75m in coaches, staff and an online booking facility.
Setting off from Donegall Square West, the bus will travel across the Irish Sea, and stop at Glasgow's Buchanan Street Station.
The bus fares are priced at £29 each way.
"There is a strong relationship between the two cities and many reasons for people to make a trip in either direction," Mr Hannon said.
"However, a lot of people are put off travelling, particularly for overnight trips or short city-breaks, because of the hassle and hidden costs.
"The most common complaint with the airlines is that advertised fares are often not available and the extras quickly add up.
"A single medium-sized bag for instance costs around £20 each way. Often the restriction on liquids in hand luggage forces people into a choice of paying the extra or picking up expensive toiletries at the airport.
"For friends travelling together, they don't want to spend the equivalent of their first night out just getting their bags to go with them."
Earlier this year the Belfast Telegraph revealed the Co Antrim firm is applying for a licence to run a new service between Belfast and Derry, before branching out into other routes.
However, it was denied a licence. That is a decision the firm is now challenging.
Aside from trying to compete on the Belfast to Derry link, Hannon Coach has said it wants to invest £10m, creating up to 70 jobs, with its other new routes.
Owen McLaughlin, group marketing manager of Hannon Coach, has said: "There is a gap in the market, that is clear. There is no one providing these express services."