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Free buses for eight years

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THE future of the free bus service between the Designer Shopping Outlet and Ashford town centre is secure until 2010 following a deal brokered by the council. The distinctive yellow and purple liveried buses, financed by McArthurGlen, operated by Stagecoach and managed by Ashford council, will run every 15 minutes from 10am until 6.20pm on Monday to Saturdays from June 24.

Additional services may be operated during special events such as Christmas late night shopping. Council spokesman Adrian Westwood said: "More than £1 million has been provided by McArthurGlen for the bus service and associated marketing and town centre improvements. "

The new deal also means that there will be increased marketing of the service and a reduction in the congestion experienced at the Bank Street bus stops. Additional transport links, such as tram systems, are being researched as part of the Ashford's future study project.

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