THE Government has given Swindon £750,000 help regenerate the town centre by boosting the travel options available to people.

Swindon Travel Choices is a council-run project aimed at improving the town centre by offering improved means of travel.

It has been given the money by the Department of Transport. The Government funding will be supplemented by a £670,000 package of sustainable transport schemes. This will be funded through the Wiltshire and Swindon Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Local Growth fund, which will contribute £534,000, while £136,000 will be put forward from the Local Transport Plan (LTP) grant, which comes from central government and must be spent on local highways and transport schemes.

The money will be spent in three separate areas, the first to encourage college and sixth form students to use sustainable forms of transport by running a series of Personalised Travel Planning (PTPs) measures and making public transport, walking and cycling more visible and more attractive to them.

PTPs educate people about the choices available and encourage them to make lifestyle changes.

Secondary and primary school students will also be targeted with money for school travel advisors, road safety officers and partners at Sustrans to broaden their programmes of learning.

Young Active Travel Ambassadors will also be recruited to promote sustainable travel to their peers, while incentives such as travel passes will be used to encourage students to take part in the project and try sustainable travel.

The Salvation Army’s social enterprise ReCycles and the local Bicycle Users Group will also be involved, offering cycle training, cycle maintenance and guided rides.

A realtime bus app for mobile phones, specifically for students, will be developed and a travel information pack will also be created for new sixth form and college starters.

The second focus will be on improving travel routes around the Wichelstowe development. The cash will be used to try to reduce the number of car journeys in the area, which will see 4,500 homes built in coming years.

The third element of the project will be aimed at encouraging sustainable travel, raising aspirations and promoting active lifestyles in a number of neighbourhoods in Swindon by using the ambassadors, befrienders and champions, plus carrying out a door-to-door PTP approach.

The government grant comes after last week’s announcement that millions of pounds of investment is to be spent on infrastructure projects.

Coun Dale Heenan (Con, Covingham and Dorcan) the cabinet member for transport, said: “July is turning out to be a great month in terms of the Government recognising Swindon.

“First, we secured over £40m for key upgrades to our roads, and now a total of £1.5m will be pledged to encourage local residents and students to use buses, cycle and walk as an alternative to cars.

“The evidence from our approach in West Swindon has shown that it does work. On average the residents who take part in the Personal Travel Planning scheme reduce their car travel by 12 miles per week, and walk 36 minutes more.

“They also use the bus and cycle as alternatives.

“These are car journeys that no longer happen, removing vehicles from Swindon’s roads and helping to tackle congestion before it happens.”