Bolton’s free bus service has been extended until 2011.
The Metroshuttle will continue to take passengers around the town centre following a successful pilot scheme which started in October 2008.
The service is jointly funded by Bolton Council and the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA) and Bolton Council was the first Greater Manchester authority to introduce the Metroshuttle outside of Manchester city centre.
The bus service was officially relaunched yesterday (January 25). Local company Maytree Travel have taken over the running of the service after successfully tendering for the contract.
The two 25-seater single decker buses have given a new royal blue and orange livery to reflect both the distinctive Bolton brand and the Metroshuttle services operating in other districts of Greater Manchester.
Councillor John Byrne, Executive Member for Development, said: “This is great news for the public and we hope to see more people hopping on and off the free buses. The feedback we’ve had has been really good, with more than three quarters of users recently surveyed very satisfied with the service. We hope that many more people continue to enjoy using the free buses.”
Councillor David White, Chair of GMITA's Bus Network and GMPTE Services Committee, added: "We hope that the free Metroshuttle will continue to help shoppers and residents get around Bolton town centre and that the new branding will help attract more people to use it. Metroshuttle services can be of real benefit to local economies, and offer a convenient, frequent and free way for people to get around town centres."
Gary Hawthorne, Managing Director of Maytree Travel, said: “We’re a local operator and I’m really pleased that we secured this contract to provide a service which will help local people. We can hopefully build up the service with our own network as all of our 20 bus services will advertise the free shuttle.”
The service operates on a 10 minute circular route around the town centre with a total of 12 stops, connecting the railway station via Newport Street with the bus station via Black Horse Street. The route was revised to include an additional stop near Sainsbury’s on Crook Street, last March.
Operating hours of the service have also been tailored to respond to demand, with the new service in operation from 9pm to 5pm.