Villages in rural areas close to Swindon could benefit from new bus services if bids for £2 million of government funding are successful.

The borough council made two separate bids of £1.05m each to the Department for Transport’s Rural Mobility Fund to improve public transport in rural and suburban parts of the borough.

The money would allow the council to set up a 'demand-responsive' transport service, which works depending on passenger need, rather than a fixed timetable. Or cash could be used for extra services on existing bus routes.

Vehicles used to provide the demand-response service can include a bus, minibus or a form of taxi. This would improve connections to Swindon from Castle Eaton, Hannington, Inglesham, Chiseldon, Liddington and Wanborough.

People living in these villages currently have only a few frequent and reliable registered local bus services that they can rely on to go to work, hospital appointments, or social and leisure activities.

The new transport links would make it easier for passengers living in rural areas to visit the Orbital Retail Park, Great Western Hospital, Swindon Railway Station, the town centre, Stratton, Gablecross, and the Blagrove and Windmill Hill industrial estates

If the council is successful in the first round of the process, it will be invited to develop its proposals.

Maureen Penny, cabinet member for highways, said: “If we are serious about improving air quality and the environment it is absolutely crucial that we do as much as we possibly can to encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport.

“This government funding pot fits in perfectly with our climate change agenda. Our plans to create a new bus interchange and cycle facilities at the Fleming Way Bus Boulevard are examples of our commitment to promoting sustainable travel, not to mention the investment we have made in our cycle network.

“We will be keeping our fingers crossed our bids make it through to the next round of the funding process.”

Cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, transport and planning Gary Sumner said: “

If we are successful, it will provide a real boost to many of our rural communities, helping to alleviate traffic on key routes into Swindon.”