ANYONE aged between 16-18 will be able to travel on buses for free in a new scheme which could cost between £12-15 million.

The new Opportunity Card will include transport with all of Bury's bus companies, as well as free and reduced entry for young people at a number of sporting and cultural locations.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham announced the card yesterday as part of the launch of the region's latest transport and housing plans.

The former Leigh MP said this policy aimed to raise the ambition of youngsters and cut out any barriers presented by transport costs.

He stressed that initial costings of the scheme are just a "working assumption" based on similar schemes in other areas, much of that will come from money provided to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority by colleges other further education institutions.

The Opportunity Card will be initially introduced on a two-year trial with the final financial details to be set out later this year.

"In a time when there's not a great deal of money around I have prioritised this and we're going to fund it," Mr Burnham said.

"Though there is a cost, what do we get in return? We get young people with hope, we get less cars on the road, we get a new generation that gets used to using public transport and we give young people something constructive to do as opposed to drifting towards crime and anti-social behaviour."

Free bus transport for young people was a central claim in Mr Burnham's manifesto when he ran for mayor in 2016.

"We want young people to see this as a new way of getting around," he explained.

"It's a big commitment, all bus operators will be part of the scheme, it will be effectively a new concessionary scheme. It's a big statement, I think young people look at the city centre and think, 'Could I really work there, could I afford to do that?'. Too many lower their ambitions because they worry about the cost of transport and whether they can actually get around and make it work.

"I am trying to send them a really big statement today. I believe in you, we believe in you as Greater Manchester and I'm going to help you have high ambitions and give you the feeling that there's nowhere that you can't work and there's nothing that you can't do and that's what this Opportunity Pass is all about."

As well as announcing 65 new transport projects to be constructed by 2025, transport bosses revealed a number of new scheme for which they are creating business cases.

These include plans to reform the bus market in an effort to combat falling passenger numbers.

As part of these bus upgrades, further connections will be put in place between Bury and Bolton, and a new 'rapid transit service' will be mooted between Bolton and Wigan.