AMBITIOUS plans to bring in a new co-ordinated bus network for Greater Manchester under local political control took a step forward yesterday.

The region’s ten council leaders approved the blueprint unveiled by Mayor Andy Burnham on Monday.

Now the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has given the go-ahead, the Our Network scheme it will be independently reviewed by experts and then put out for public consultation.

Any final decision on the proposals, which would mean Bolton’s bus and train passengers could travel across the region with a simpler integrated ticket system and London-style capped fares, would be taken next year.

Details of a new ‘Our Pass’ system offering free travel to all 16 to18-year-olds will be revealed on Monday.

The GMCA approval has been welcomed by Bolton North-East MP Sir David Crausby and the Unite union’s North-West bus officer John Boughton.

But Bolton West Tory MP Chris Green warned against ‘sub-regional nationalisation by stealth’.

The plans - which include a new Tube-stye mapshowing new orbital bus links, and locally-controlled rail services - would see new trams, a contactless Oyster Card-style payment system on the Metrolink and 1,000 new park and ride spaces by the end of 2020.

The proposal follows a review, recommending that the GMCA takes control of local buses through the franchising model.

Sir David said: “This is good news. Bus privatisation did not work.

“We now have a poor fragmented system which means that if you have a car you will use it. This will hopefully help people to travel easily on the bus across Bolton and Greater Manchester.”

Mr Green said: “This could be a good step but I am concerned that there should be a good relationship between the politicians and the private bus operators. I am also worried about where the money for the Our Pass will come from.”

Mr Boughton said: “We believe this will lead to a proper, integrated service. Lower fares could herald a renaissance in bus travel with more services serving communities that currently don’t have any.”

Mr Burnham said: “This is a vision for a cohesive and seamless single system that brings together all the different ways people travel.”