A new Braintree bus station will open this weekend as part of a boost for commuters and shoppers.

Essex's transport leaders are urging travellers to "give the bus a go in 2022" once the new interchange opens on Sunday, January 2.

They hope that the station will reduce congestion in the town.

The interchange is part of a £30 million development at Braintree's Victoria Square, which includes a new 70-bed hotel, new apartments and a health hub.

Buses from the hub will link the town with destinations such as Stansted Airport, Chelmsford and Colchester, and with villages such as Great Bardfield and Great Yeldham.

Councillor Lee Scott, who looks after sustainable transport at Essex County Council, said: "This new interchange in Braintree will make bus travel simpler and more attractive, connecting many key destinations across the county.

"I look forward to seeing the benefits it will bring and I invite everyone to give the bus a go in 2022."

He added: "Buses are a hugely important part of people’s lives in Essex and hugely important in combatting climate change.

"Improving Essex’s bus network is a key part of delivering sustainable transport."

Essex County Council submitted a report to the government as part of the National Bus Strategy in October 2021.

The government wants local authorities participating in the strategy to begin developing a joined-up public transport network with bus companies by March 2022.

Braintree District Council hopes the development will create more than 100 jobs, 20,000 new patient places at the health hub, and more than 100 parking spaces.

Cllr Kevin Bowers, responsible for housing and assets at the council, said: "The regeneration has transformed the look and feel of the area and it’s turned it into a much nicer place to wait for travel connections."

He added: "We’ve built a bigger and more modern bus interchange with added capacity which will improve public transport and support the future growth of bus services."

Cllr Bowers urged passengers to leave more time for their journey until they are familiar with the new Victoria Square layout.