BUSES in Bolton are among the dirtiest in the region, according to transport bosses.

First Bus, which operates thousands of services across the country, said its Greater Manchester fleet is plagued with litter.

The bus company said it can take cleaners up to 25 minutes to pick up litter on each bus, every evening.

Litter is such a problem on its North West fleet that the operator is launching a public appeal, pleading with passengers to "take their rubbish away with them".

The bus firm said cleaners face a tsunami of rubbish every evening, with chewing gum, Metro newspapers, plastic bottles and chocolate wrappers scattered along the aisles and under seats.

Not surprisingly, the biggest annoyance for cleaners is chewing gum being stuck underneath seats.

A spokesperson at First Manchester, said: “Operating a reliable and value for money service is our highest priority.

"But we also want to ensure that the on-board experience is pleasant for our customers and that the vehicles are clean and welcoming.

"We have noticed an increase in customers leaving rubbish on board buses and we have therefore launched a campaign to encourage people to take their rubbish away with them and to leave the bus tidy.

But some passengers have hit back at the bus operator, suggesting that buses simply need bigger bins.

First Manchester said they often receive requests for larger bins on board their buses, and will take the idea into consideration.

The spokesman added: “We have regular requests for larger litter bins on board our buses and we have taken this feedback on board.

"W are now working with the manufacturers of our new buses, to ensure we have larger litter bins that are more visible.

"In the meantime, we’d urge customers to help keep the bus tidy by placing Metro newspapers back into the tray and to take any food and drink packaging away with them when leaving the bus.”

Despite their annoyance at the increase in littering, First Manchester said all rubbish collected is recycled.