Council submits funding bids to improve rural and suburban bus services

Villages in rural parts of Swindon could benefit from new flexible bus services, if Swindon Borough Council is successful with two government funding bids.

Published: Thursday, 18th June 2020

The Council has made two separate bids of £1.05m each to the Department for Transport’s Rural Mobility Fund to improve transport provision in rural and suburban parts of the Borough giving people access to key amenities in the Swindon area.

The new services would also reduce people’s dependence on their cars, reducing the number of vehicles on local roads and improving air quality.

The funding bids would allow the Council to set up an entirely new demand responsive transport service or create a feed-in service to an existing bus route.

Demand response transport services are a flexible form of public transport, which focus on passenger needs rather than a fixed route or timetable. Vehicles used to provide the service can include a bus, minibus or a form of taxi.

In the north of the Borough the service would benefit the villages of Castle Eaton, Hannington and Inglesham, while Chiseldon, Liddington and Wanborough would be connected in the south.

At present, there are few frequent, reliable registered local bus services that rural residents can rely on in order to attend work, hospital appointments, social and leisure activities.

By delivering these new transport links from the rural north of Swindon, the Council would make it easier for people to get to the Orbital Retail Park, Great Western Hospital, Swindon Railway Station and the Town Centre. Links would also be made with Stratton and Gablecross in the east and the Blagrove and Windmill Hill industrial estates in the west.

Similar transport links would be established for Chiseldon, Liddington and Wanborough in the south of the Borough.

If the Council is successful in the initial round of the process, it will be invited to develop its proposals with the Department for Transport.

Councillor Maureen Penny, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Maintenance and Waste Services, said: “If we are serious about improving air quality and the environment it is absolutely crucial that we do as much as we possibly can to encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport.

“This government funding pot fits in perfectly with our climate change agenda and is why we have submitted two bids in order to improve the provision of public transport for our rural and suburban communities.

“Our plans to create a new bus interchange and cycle facilities at the Fleming Way Bus Boulevard are examples of our commitment to promoting sustainable travel, not to mention the considerable investment we have made in our cycle network.

“We will be keeping our fingers crossed our bids make it through to the next round of the funding process.”

Councillor Gary Sumner, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Infrastructure, Transport and Planning, said: “These types of flexible bus services are needed if we want to encourage a renaissance in bus use from those people who live in our rural communities.

“If we are successful with our funding applications it will provide a real boost to many of our rural communities helping to alleviate traffic levels on some of the key routes into Swindon.”

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