THE driver of the 464 bus service, Joe Murphy, made history on Sunday as the first to use Rawtenstall’s new £3.5m bus station.

The bus station has been developed by Rossendale Council and replaces the old facility in Bacup Road which dated back to the 1970s.

Mr Murphy was delighted to make the very first departure, on the Accrington to Rochdale service, from the new interchange.

Joe said: “This town has been waiting for a fantastic new facility like this for many years and, for me, being the driver of the very first bus to use it is something very special.

“The old bus station was a draughty place going back to the 1970s, with a leaking roof which let in the rain and the cold. The new one offers our customers a warm and safe place to begin and end their journeys with us, and it’s the ideal partner for our many new and revitalised buses.”

Transdev CEO, Alex Hornby, said: “We know from our customers that the new Rawtenstall Bus Station has been eagerly awaited.

“All our Rosso buses serving Rawtenstall, including our Irwell Line and 464 routes, now use the new bus station, along with our famous Witchway buses to Manchester, Burnley and Skipton.

“The Transdev way is always about raising the standard of bus travel, to make the bus a place our customers want to be seen in, and as proven by the growth of 15 per cent more bus users we have seen at Rosso since it was welcomed into our family.

“The new Rawtenstall bus station is the ideal gateway to our services and with Christmas just around the corner, there’s no better time to leave the stresses of driving and parking behind and join us on board.”

Building work on the station began in the spring. It features live departure boards, a travel shop and retail units.

The retail units will be occupied by new businesses who are at an advanced stage in the legal process, and adaptation works are to start shortly following the opening of the bus station.