BOLTON Council’s executive cabinet member for Highways and Transport, Cllr Stuart Haslam admitted that the system needs reforming but said that the needs of the passenger has to come first in implementing any changes.

Speaking after the mayor of Greater Manchester announced plans for a huge overhaul of the region's public transport, Cllr Haslam said any new system must be affordable for passengers and the general public.

He also questioned how it would be financed and noted that bus use has declined across the country, in the past two years - even in London.

Cllr Haslam said: “Clearly there is need for some reform of the bus organisation system. This is the reason why the government passed the new buses act which gave to local authorities and the Greater Manchester mayor new powers to organise the buses in their areas.

“The main aim for any bus network is for it to be safe, reliable efficient and affordable and any system has to be judged against these criteria. But it has to be affordable not only for the passenger but also for tax paying public.

“One of the reasons for the decline in bus use is that the needs of the passenger is not paramount, and the needs of he passenger has to be the most important - not the needs of the bus operators and not the desire of the mayor who wishes to control the transport operations. There is no one solution which will cover every eventuality - different needs and provisions are required in the regional centres, the suburbs and the more rural areas. Too much prescription could prevent the needs of particular groups of passengers being ignored.

“It should also be borne in mind in the last two years there has been a decline in bus use in London as well as in the rest of the country.

“There is merit in considering a franchising system of bus regulation and the proposals that the mayor has to be suggested need much examination. Giving an instant judgement on a huge range of proposals is really neither sensible or a great aid to improving the system.

“The devil is manifestly in the detail as to how this is to be financed and to how it improves passenger journeys.”