BOLTON’S free Metroshuttle bus service has been extended for another year.

And two new stops have been added to the service, which transports people for free around the town centre.

The Metroshuttle service, which is jointly funded by Bolton Council and Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority (GMITA), was introduced as a pilot scheme in 2008.

It covers all key town centre locations with pick-up and drop-off points connecting the town's train and bus stations with the main shops and office areas.

The Metroshuttle route will also be extended from Monday to include the bus stop opposite the colleges’ campus on Deane Road. This stop will also serve the University of Bolton and the nearby multi-storey car park.

The service will also pick up passengers from a new bus stop on Bath Street near Topp Way multi-storey car park, providing a direct link to the relocated Shopmobility service.

The announcement comes as latest figures show that the service is becoming increasingly popular with around 440 passengers a day now using it.

Cllr Ismail Ibrahim, Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Development and Regeneration, said: “We always said that if the scheme continued then there was scope to change the route so that the buses stop near the multi-storey car parks. The Deane Road stop is ideally located for both those using the car park and students who travel by train. “The feedback we’ve had from passengers is that the bus service really is vital, particularly for those who are infirm and elderly.”

From Monday, two distinctive 28- seater single decker buses will operate every 15 minutes, between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Saturday, covering a circular route of around three miles and serving 15 bus stops.

Cllr David Sandiford of GMITA added: “I am delighted to see the service and route has been extended and I would encourage everyone to hop on board and enjoy all that Bolton town centre has to offer.”

Local company Maytree Travel will continue to run the service.

Maytree Managing Director Gary Hawthorne said: “Patronage has steadily increased since we took over and I’m really pleased to be providing a service which helps local people.”