TRANSPORT chiefs are hoping more people than ever will save their weary feet and hop on Bolton’s free shuttle bus.

In October, 2008, a pilot scheme was started, offering free bus transport on a circular route around the town centre. It has proved to be so successful that funding has been found to extend the service until next year.

Bolton was the first authority in Greater Manchester outside Manchester city centre to offer a Metroshuttle service.

Yesterday local company Maytree Travel, which won the contract to operate the extended service, began operating the Metroshuttle in the town.

The company is painting two 25 seat single-decker buses in a new blue and orange livery to complement other Metroshuttle services operating in Greater Manchester.

The buses will travel on a circular route around the town centre, connecting the railway station, via Newport Street, with the bus station, via Blackhorse Street, and stopping at 12 locations. Buses will run from 9am to 5pm.

Officials hope more people will be attracted to use the buses as, in a recent survey, 75pc of passengers said they were satisfied with the service.

Cllr David White, from the Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA), which is funding the service along with Bolton Council, said: “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, has plans to promote the service throughout his fleet of buses.

He said: “Hopefully, we can build up the town centre service as all of our 20 bus services will advertise the free shuttle,” he said.