FIVE hundred buses in south Hampshire will be fitted with free wi-fi Internet under a £7.4m improvement scheme.

The Department of Transport has awarded £4.5m towards the scheme after a joint bid by Southampton, Portsmouth and Hampshire councils.

The council partnership, called Transport for South Hampshire, aims to improve the quality of bus travel in the county, increase bus usage by eight per cent to cut congestion, and reduce carbon emissions by 4,205 tonnes.

At least 141 buses will be refurbished under the scheme, 500 will get display screens showing the next stops and new LED lighting, and a smartphone app giving bus timetable information will be launched later this year.

The wi-fi terminals, costing £1.2m, will be installed over the next two years.

Bus companies, who are putting £2.1m into the scheme, will also create 16 new apprenticeships.