CANINE customers are now able to ride the bus for free, after Thamesdown Transport relaxed the rules on charges for dogs.

The owners of four-legged passengers previously had to fork out 50p for their beloved pets to join them on the bus but will now be able to take dogs on board the bus for free.

The 50p charge was discretionary for canine customers but is believed to have been in place for at least 15 years.

To celebrate the new venture Thamesdown donated £200 to town charity SNDogs, who brought along homeless hounds Nuska and Cooper to enjoy a ride on the bus.

Alex Chutter, general manager of Thamesdown Transport, said the decision to reverse the charges for dogs on the bus was an easy one to make.

He said: “It seemed somewhat farcical that this rule was even in place to charge for dogs taking the bus.

"I think drivers were embarrassed to enforce it as well, it was very much discretionary so it was an easy decision to remove the charge

“I’m a dog lover myself and I hope this will encourage others to jump on a bus without worrying their pet will incur extra charges.

"There’s something very calming about having a dog on the bus with you and we hope this will encourage more people to use the bus with their pet.

“With this change customers who are four legged as well as two legged are catered for and can relax and be comfortable on the bus without worrying about having the right change for a 50p fare. They will reap the benefits of this.”

Clare Fantini-Stephens, a volunteer with the charity, said the news would be welcomed by Swindon’s dog-owning community.

“It’s great news, it enables us to do the work that we do and we always need money for vets bills and to make sure the dogs are healthy and happy," she said.

“We are very grateful for the donation. People shouldn’t have to worry about having enough money to take their companion on the bus so I think it will make pet-owners very happy."

The fare change is one of a series of changes brought in since Thamesdown Transport became public after being previously owned by Swindon Borough Council. It was sold to Go South Coast - part of the Go Ahead Group, which is a FTSE 250 listed company.

Thamesdown has just announced spending of £2m on 13 new single-decker buses for use across Swindon and North Wiltshire.

SNDogs was designed to save innocent animals from dog death row and helps stray and pound dogs in the town.

The charity covers all food, training and veterinary bills until a suitable forever home can be found for them.

To donate, to become a foster carer or to adopt any of the dogs visit