THE guided busway has opened to generally positive reviews from passengers, with the quality of the high-tech Vantage buses and the smooth ride created by the 4.5-mile dedicated concrete track receiving widespread praise.

But it has been a bumpy road on the way to the £68 million project's grand opening on Sunday and there have been teething problems already.

There have been instances of people mistakenly driving their cars on the bus-only guided track this week and Transport for Greater Manchester admits that drivers require a 'period of adjustment' to the busway's opening.

A spokesman for TfGM said: “The areas around the busway, including junction crossing points and park and ride sites, are clearly marked and signposted but will nevertheless involve a period of adjustment and familiarisation for motorists.”

Peter Boulton, head of programme management services at TfGM, is 'delighted' that residents can now take advantage of north west’s first guided busway, which provides a traffic-less link between areas such as Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley and Salford and Manchester City Centre.

A significant proportion of people have criticised the project, with many arguing that the money spent on the busway would have been better served on a train or tram line.

But Mr Boulton is urging residents not to be swayed by the critics and to give the new public transport system a try for themselves.

He said: "I’m delighted that the local community is now enjoying the benefits of this scheme and I really encourage people to form their own opinions and give the busway a go.

"The ride quality and high-spec buses and stops are not to be missed and provide passengers with a journey experience seldom experienced outside of first-class rail travel.

"Concerns have been expressed about local traffic being able to get from Tyldesley to the East Lancs Road in the morning peak due buses crossing Hough Lane and Sale Lane.

"But he traffic lights along the busway will only be on green for as long as it takes a bus to pass through – just seconds.

"The time traffic lights are on red for general traffic will be much shorter than that of other standard road junctions which let multiple vehicles through in one go.

The guided busway offers real value for money with a premium service at everyday network prices.

"A public inquiry in 2002 demonstrated a business case for a guided busway but not a train or tram route.

"A rail link would cost more to build, take longer to construct and require ongoing public subsidy. It wouldn’t deliver additional benefits for passengers or for the Greater Manchester economy.

"The significant investment in the busway offers a modern and innovative transport link into the local area and reaffirms our ongoing commitment to providing reliable transport options to communities and businesses in Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley."

The £5 million fleet of 20 new buses run from 4am to midnight, with up to eight buses an hour between Tyldesley and Manchester.

Councillor for Atherton Mark Aldred, chairman of TfGM's bus committee, said: "I am proud to say that TfGM has delivered this scheme, which I supported.

"I have received loads of positive feedback from people who were on the guided busway’s maiden voyage on Sunday.

"Even my mum, daughter and wife said it was the smoothest, most pleasant bus journey they had ever had.

"If my mum says it’s good, it must be good."