Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has hailed the return of buses to public control after 40 years.

The Bee Network was launched this week and the mayor has described it as a “coming of age moment for devolution".

The service is operating initially in Bolton, Bury, Wigan and Salford and is part of plans for a more integrated network.

From today, Sunday, there will be 50 new electric buses with hundreds more in the next few years, buses connected to the first and last tram and train services, passengers given the chance to rate their journey and an app providing live information.

Mr Burham said it reversed four decades of policy.

He said: “For nearly 40 years we have seen worsening services and plummeting passenger numbers on our buses. 

"We’ve had to reckon with a deregulated bus network that cuts vital services that connect communities to jobs, hospitals and opportunities on a whim - leaving local leaders with limited budgets to pick up the tab to keep these routes alive. 

"Today marks the end of that era with our franchised system representing better value for money for city-regions and a better service for passengers.

“From today passengers will experience our new electric buses as well as earlier and later, more frequent and better integrated services. 

"We’ve already cut the cost of public transport with the capped fares I introduced in 2022, but from today our new AnyBus + tram ticket will also make joint tram and bus travel 20 per cent cheaper.

“We’re also putting power back in the hands of people, with passengers able to rate their journey.

"These ratings, combined with a range of other customer-related performance targets will be used to inform what operators get paid.

“Today is a coming-of-age moment for English devolution. 

"With the launch of the Bee Network, Greater Manchester is blazing a trail for other city-regions who are ready to follow our lead in reversing the failed bus deregulation experiment and creating an integrated transport network that is run in in the interests of, and accountable to, our communities.

“I’d like to extend my thanks to all those who have worked tirelessly over many years to make the Bee Network possible.”