STAGECOACH has promised new state-of-the-art buses and an improved service after being chosen to provide a service which runs from the town centre to Basingstoke Leisure Park.

The bus company was selected by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council following a tendering process in which the council consulted with several companies vying to secure the contract.

The re-tendering process led to a saving of £34,500 for the council. Last year, the service cost £371,137.

Stagecoach is expected to take over the service from current operators, Courtney Buses – which has provided the service since 2002 – in March.

Andrew Dyer, managing director of Stagecoach South, said: “We are delighted to have secured this contract to operate the prestigious Centre Shuttle service for Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

“We will be working in close co-operation with the council to develop and improve the service.

“One thing we can say is we will be very keen to introduce smart card ticketing more widely, which means passengers can book tickets in advance so they are accessible and flexible.

“This will include the launch of new, state-of-the-art buses during 2014. New European regulations have encouraged vehicle manufacturers to adopt new standards which lower emissions even further than the current buses.

“The new specification has just been launched and the buses we are going to supply will be to the latest European standard and will probably be the first in Hampshire to this specification.

“We are hoping these will be used from next summer, depending on the manufacturers.”

The service, linking the town centre, railway station, Basing View and the Leisure Park runs seven days a week, with the last bus at 10.37pm.

With buses running four times an hour, passengers can park for free in the designated Centre Shuttle area at the Leisure Park and catch the shuttle bus into Basingstoke town centre.

Councillor Cathy Osselton, Cabinet member for partnerships, said: “I am very pleased that through the new tender process, and testing the market with several companies, we have managed to assure that this popular service will continue in the same way while also making savings on the council subsidy.”