PROVIDING better bus services covering all areas should be a top priority.

During a parliamentary debate MP Julie Hilling highlighted the issue of local bus services arguing that MPs tended to discuss rail during transport debates when buses were fundamental to daily life for many.

"What they need are cheap, regular services that go near their homes," said the MP who highlighted the service in part of her Bolton West constituency.

"The service to Hag Fold, Atherton stops in the evening, and on a Sunday it does not start until midday, so no one can use the bus to go to church on a Sunday morning, or for a day out.

“That is the reality. We need planning for services across an area that is not based just on whether a route is profitable. We need a service that goes as close to people’s doors as possible, otherwise those who can drive, will.”

Ms Hilling told MPs that competition had failed to provide an effective service on routes outside of city centres as bus operating companies did not deem them to be profitable.

"If the operator decides a route is unprofitable, they will withdraw from the service and hope that the local authority will then pay them to deliver the service. This is increasingly difficult with the cuts that have been made to budgets," she said.