PASSENGERS on board Stagecoach Manchester's new 34 bus service got more than they bargained for this morning with a free service, X Factor performance and Simon Cowell look-alike in tow.

The new service, which officially launched today from Leigh bus station, now includes Boothstown and Worsley.

In addition the X34 service has been extended to cover additional locations including Bryn, Ashton-in-Makerfield and Golborne.

Councillors Robin Garrido, of Boothstown and Ellenbrook, Roger Jones, of Irlam ward, and Tony Lloyd, interim mayor of Greater Manchester, were alongside the passengers who trialled the new service.

Adding a bit of fun to the trip were Jamie Benkert, contestant from this year's The X Factor, and a Simon Cowell look-alike who said in regards to the Stagecoach service: "It's a yes from me".

Christopher Bowles, managing director of Stagecoach Manchester, said: "We decided that the X34 service that's been running for a number of years needed a facelift and needed investing in.

"We've invested £1.5 million in developing the service.

"We've increased the service frequency by 50%, we have a new evening service and we have also increased the Sunday service.

"The service has run in Lowton but Golborne hasn't had the opportunity to go through to Salford and Manchester.

"The service is now there for people to take advantage of and, if people do that, it will be successful."

Stagecoach Manchester has invested £1.5 million into the nine new buses, which are E400 buses with Euro six engines which significantly reduce carbon emissions.

The buses also have wifi and USB ports.

Mr Bowles added: "It's taken about nine months to launch the buses and we ran the first service yesterday and got some really good feedback.

"Off peak, there will be a bus every 20 minutes and, on peak, five buses an hour.

"We have been trialling the evening services on Fridays and Saturdays which will run until 11.30pm and 7.15pm on a Sunday but we will now be launching that mid-week as well.

"We haven't changed our price, it is still £13.50 for a weekly ticket which is really good and is actually cheaper than when we took over in 2012.

"People will also be able to use their tickets between operators First and Stagecoach as we have an agreement with them.

"We are hoping that there will be a resurgence in the use of buses.

"We know that there are lots of commuters going into Manchester and we want to be able to give them the opportunity to do that on Stagecoach Manchester."

The X34 and 34 service will run from Bryn, Ashton, Golborne, Lowton, Leigh, Astley, Boothstown, Worsley, Pendleton and Manchester.