BOLTON and Wigan councils have signed an agreement to improve a busy bus service linking the town centre with Leigh.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TFGM) has spearheaded the move for the first ever Voluntary Bus Partnership Agreement (VPA) in Greater Manchester for the 582 bus route, along with operator First.

The 582 carries about 1.5 million passengers a year as it travels along Leigh Road and St Helens Road.

The VPA means the two councils and TFGM promise to maintain the roads, bus stops and shelters, improve traffic managements and make sure parking restrictions are enforced.

In turn, First will agree to provide regular, reliable bus services run on time with quality vehicles. Bolton Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, Cllr David Chadwick, said that the arrangement would benefit all.

He added: “Signing up to this agreement shows that we are committed to working with our partners to deliver improvements to public transport which will benefit our residents, and we welcome this opportunity to deliver better bus services for bus users.”

Cllr Mark Aldred, vice chairman of the TfGM Committee and transport spokesman for Wigan Council, said they were delighted to get behind the arrangement.

He added: “The agreement is all about safeguarding the long-term future of this important bus route, improving bus services and hopefully boosting bus use too.

“First is already delivering a good service along this route, and I expect this partnership to drive forward even more improvements for passengers.”