BUS operators in Greater Manchester have unveiled a £100 million plan to overhaul the region's bus network.

OneBus ­— a partnership of all 18 bus companies in the area ­— have created a blueprint for their vision which they say will make the region better connected, ease the cost of travel while tackling air pollution and traffic.

Gary Nolan, chief executive of OneBus, said: “Buses are central to the future of Greater Manchester and this positive package of proposals can make a real difference to tackling the biggest challenges facing our communities: road congestion and air quality.

“Building on the significant investment already made by operators, there is a window of opportunity for everyone to work together to deliver a revolution in the region's bus network that puts customers first and offers excellent value for both passengers and public investment."

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has been making buses his business and recently unveiled the "Opportunity Pass" a council tax subsidised free pass for 16 to 18 year olds.

He is also seeking to address air pollution in the city which has a huge impact on health. Figures show car ownership was at 1.14 million in 2017, up 17,600 on 2016.

When the Opportunity Pass was announced this week he said: "Bus reform is essential for the future success of Greater Manchester as the current system simply isn’t working. The current bus system is driven by the needs of operators rather than what the travelling public needs.

“This must change."

Many of the aims of the OneBus plan fall inline with Mr Burnham's vision for a greener more connected Greater Manchester but keep control with the operators.

OneBus argues that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Mr Burnham's vision would see taxpayers become responsible for the full cost of the bus network instead of the operators as is currently the case.

Mr Nolan said: "Franchising is being presented as a zero cost guaranteed route to better buses services, but this is a myth. The major investments we are proposing can be delivered far quicker through a partnership approach and without the risk and extra cost under any alternative model.

"Only by bus operators, the Mayor and the region's local authorities working together, can we give Greater Manchester, its economy and its communities the dynamic bus network to shape our world-class city region."

Cllr David Chadwick who sits on the bus network and transport for Greater Manchester services sub-committee at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority said the ultimate decision for the future of the buses lies with Mr Burnham.

Though added his own preference would be for a London-style system allowing authorities greater control over bus routes.

Cllr Chadwick said: "Under current legislation, commercially operated services can do what they with the required notice."

OneBus' plans proposes 450 new low emission buses over three years to boost air quality, simplified and flexible tickets, a two-year price freeze on multi-operator bus fares and an action plan to speed up journeys and cut gridlock.

All the buses would have a unified brand identity as part of the plans and the operators would extend WiFi to all of the bus fleet.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) Executive Director, Michael Renshaw, said: “TfGM is currently preparing an assessment of a proposed bus franchising scheme for Greater Manchester, on behalf of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), in line with the new powers available to mayoral combined authorities under the Bus Services Act.

“We’ve proactively engaged with local bus operators throughout the process to explore other realistic partnership options for improving bus services. We look forward to continuing that dialogue to understand the various detailed aspects of their voluntary partnership proposals.”