Plans for new Belfast express bus on ice

TWO YEARS on and still no decision has been taken on whether to give the proposed Enniskillen to Belfast express bus the green light.
The Department of Infrastructure has yet to decide if it should award a permit for the £10 million express service, which would significantly shorten journey times from Fermanagh to Belfast, to a private company.  It is understood Department officials believe a minister needs to make the decision, which means it could potentially remain on hold until the Stormont institutions are back up and running.
When the Herald first revealed the plans back in 2016 concerns were raised by some local councillors about the impact an express route could have on the existing Translink service. However, with the proposed express promising a cheaper and faster service, local commuters were overwhelmingly in favour of the plans. As many pointed out, similar private express services in the South are very popular with workers and students.
Aside from the benefits of the service to local travellers, the company behind the plans also believes Fermanagh is now missing out on an influx of international visitors as a result of the delay.
Director of Antrim-based Hannon Coaches, Aodh Hannon, explained since the company had first applied for the permit it had begun operating a direct Belfast-Glasgow service. Its success has even surprised the company, with international travellers making up 27 per cent of those using the service.
Mr Hannon believes if the Enniskillen express was given the go ahead the company could direct many of those international visitors to Fermanagh. He also said he remain optimistic the permit would be granted.
“Hopefully we will get the permit issue resolved within the next few months” he said. “Maybe next summer we will see some of those international visitors heading Fermanagh’s way!”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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