A drive to bring Bolton buses back under public control has been given the green light after bus companies attempted to put the brakes on the proposals put forward by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

The scheme, which is to be introduced in Bolton and Wigan next year and across the region by the end of 2024, involves operators bidding to run services, giving local authorities control over pricing and ticketing.

Not all operators were on board with Mr Burnham's proposal, with Rotala and Stagecoach launching a legal challenge.

But the High Court dismissed this legal challenge in March 2022, in what appeared to be a green light for the scheme.

Despite this outcome, Rotala pursued its opposition, this time with the Court of Appeal.

However, in a ruling at the start of this week, the decision of the High Court was upheld.

Mr Burnham said: "This is brilliant news for the people of Greater Manchester – and for anyone across the UK who cares about having a bus service that puts people ahead of shareholder profit.

"We were always very confident [the combined authority] had followed all correct legal processes and the decision to franchise buses and to bring them under public control was lawful and right. 

"We are delighted we have comprehensively defeated the last legal challenge in the way of bringing buses under public control. 

"The Court of Appeal's judgment upholds the original decision of the High Court and unanimously rejects this appeal as without any merit.

"Throughout two separate consultations, the Greater Manchester public told us they wanted buses bringing under public control and run for the benefit of the people, and it is frustrating this legal action has been pursued to prevent this going ahead. 

"So I am delighted the court has dismissed all the operator’s arguments and has awarded all costs in our favour."

From September 1, even before the introduction of the proposal, single tickets are set to be capped at £1 for children and £2 for adults, while day tickets are set to be capped at £5.

Mr Burnham said the combined authority is to invest in 220 zero-emission buses, of which 50 will be involved in the initial phase of the scheme in Bolton and Wigan next year.

He added: "This clear and unanimous judgment is another green light which means we can now power ahead at full speed to deliver bus franchising across Greater Manchester as part of our Bee Network -an integrated, accessible and affordable ‘London-Style’ transport system joining together buses, trams, cycling and walking.

"And I hope the unanimous rejection of this appeal paves the way for other city regions such as Liverpool City Region and South Yorkshire to progress with their ambitions to bring buses under public control."