A DEAL which saw a large slice of Bolton's bus services transfer to a new operator has been hailed a success.

Ambitious public transport firm Rotala moved in to acquire a number of routes last August and has been running them under its Diamond North West arm.

Seasoned passengers have been quick to criticise performance levels since Diamond, which had previously worked across Atherton and Leigh, took charge.

But bosses at their parent company, in a Stock Market trading update announcement, for the period ending November 30, have confirmed the outlook for Rotala, and Diamond North West, remains positive and they were satisified with how 2019 had gone.

A Rotala spokesman said: " The company is pleased to announce that trading during FY 19 was in-line with market expectations.

"During the financial year, the group achieved significant additional growth through the acquisition of the Bolton depot of First Manchester Limited in August 2019.

"This acquisition was made in accordance with the Group's stated strategy and has considerably enlarged the group's operations in the north west, making the company the second largest bus operator in the Greater Manchester market.

"The company is expected to realise further benefits from the Bolton acquisition during the course of the current financial year, as further synergies materialise."

The firm, which is ultimately based in the West Midlands, has also signalled its intentions to expand their activities further, where market conditions allow.

An announcement is expected on a possible dividend when the company announces its full-year results in early April.

The spokesman added: "The company is pleased to report that trading for the current year has begun in line with budget.

"Furthermore the Board remains focused on identifying suitable acquisitions with a view to continuing to expand the operations of the group, thereby making full use of the ample financial facilities which it possesses.

"The group performed well in 2019 and, with a strong management team and a comprehensive network of operating facilities, is well placed to capitalise on its enhanced position in a period when the bus industry continues to undergo considerable change."

Bosses on behalf of Diamond have admitted that they have struggled with staffing since the First switch took place.

One such factor is said to have been the Vantage services, which used to run out of the Bolton West Street depot. The V1 and V2 buses, between Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley, remained with First.

This left Diamond around 60 drivers short, affecting cover, though the firm says 30 drivers have since been hired.