TRAMS, 20mph zones and cycle paths could be at the heart of changes to Swindon’s transport network over the next two decades.

Swindon Council has bid for £100m of Government funding to improve key routes and enhance the town’s public transport network.

Other plans include re-introducing park and ride sites, building a new bus station and siting car parks outside the town centre to encourage people to use public transport.

The vision of transport in 2026 is included within the council’s draft core strategy – a plan to cope with the 35,000 new homes the Government has earmarked for Swindon over the next 20 years.

David Potter, Swindon Council’s director of planning and transport, said the key to the plan was to give people more reasons to use public transport.

He said: “At the moment our bus service targets those people who are most in need or don’t have a choice.

“What we need to do is target those people who do have a choice and get them out of their cars.

“We can’t force anyone to give up their car but we can make public transport an attractive alternative.”

The draft core strategy outlines the council’s plans to create rapid transit networks – key routes into the town from existing and new developments.

Mr Potter said: “These routes could be utilised for a tram route but in the meantime would probably be used for high speed buses.”

Schemes for cyclists and walkers will also be a priority for the future, including efforts to make routes to school safer.

Several projects are already being trialled around the town, including 20mph zones and prohibiting parking around schools.

There are also plans to limit speeds to 20mph in more residential areas, although not necessarily through enforced speed limits.

Mr Potter said: “It can be more effective to change the layout of the road or introduce chicanes rather than putting up signs.”

Missing links in the town’s cycle network will also be completed.

“If we are really serious about people using their bikes to go to work then we need priority routes,” said Mr Potter.

“That could mean cycle lanes in the road.”

The council will also continue to lobby for improvements to Swindon’s rail network, according to Mr Potter – including calling for an increase in the capacity on the mainline from London.

A public exhibition to gauge reactions to the draft core strategy will be held tomorrow from noon to 6pm at North Swindon Library and at the same time and location on Friday. Further meetings will be held over the next two weeks in Covingham, Highworth and the Brunel Centre.