WILTSHIRE Council has unanimously approved plans to improve and increase bus services throughout the county.

In February the Government announced its National Bus Strategy in which it confirmed £5bn of funding to drastically change bus and cycle links outside London.

In its own strategy the council has detailed how it plans to use its share to give bus users more and better routes.

The first £1.2m project is an “improved flexible demand responsive” network in the Pewsey Vale.

A spokesman for the local authority said: “Better bus services will provide increased provision and options for travel to shoppers accessing local centres, which will help to facilitate the growth set out in the Wiltshire Core Strategy.

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“In turn, a better overall bus service will provide the car driver with a viable travel alternative and go towards increasing modal shift and benefiting the council’s carbon neutral ambitions.”

Wiltshire was granted £671,000 of government funding in March last year to improve bus services.

As a result, a number of areas have been targeted including, Chippenham, Calne, Cricklade, Purton, Royal Wootton Bassett, Malmesbury, Trowbridge, Melksham, Bradford on Avon, Westbury, Warminster, Marlborough, Tidworth, Devizes, Amesbury and Ludgershall.

At the latest cabinet meeting, councillors were told the plans would also see a levelling of fares – the closer to Salisbury a route is, the more expensive it becomes.

Cllr Jon Hubbard, who chairs the Children’s Select committee, said he was encouraged by the plans but asked the council to look at making sure there was greater access to education.

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“The problem for young people in my community is that if they want to study in an academic environment that isn’t sixth form, they have to travel,” he said.

“They have to be able to pay to go to it which presents real challenges and the greatest shame of it is that the only joy they have on their 16th birthday is that they start paying full adult fares.”

He said one of the top issues young people speak about with the committee is access to education and public transport.

Cabinet member for transport, Dr Mark McClelland agreed when Cllr Hubbard asked if there was a chance to work with providers to get people back onto public transport by “making it affordable for them when they’re young”.

Cllr Clare Cape brought up the threat by Faresaver to pull its service to Chippenham station due to chaos caused by traffic lights on Station Hill.

Cllr McClelland recognised the issue surrounding the traffic measures but said the council would not make a u-turn without trying to resolve them.