Journalists had a secondary bus whilst many of the bigwigs scuttled off (for a free lunch?), but, impressively, Mr Fender stayed with the fourth estate for their sample ride.
There was, sadly, a distinct lack of organisation; but this attempt (akin to being unable to provide pea soup in a brewery) did at least allow fbb to take a look at Leigh Bus Station.
Toilets, clean and in good nick ...
Enquiry office, well stocked ...
After a significant delay, the press gang finally got their ride. fbb grabbed top deck front off-side and was joined nearside by Alan Millar, editor of Buses Magazine who had travelled down from Markinch (in Scotland).
Each junction with real roads was traffic light controlled with priority for the buses.
There was the obligatory car trap, to ensure that errant motoring Mancunians would sink into the pit and gum up the whole service for hours until someone came to haul them out.
The comfy bus, equipped with WiFi, USB chanrging points, tanning parlour, massage room and seat back alarm clocks in case the ride is so restful you nod off, sped happily along the full length of the concrete track. Smooth and slick.
Then out on to the East Lancs Road (A580) where much fine gold has been spent on long bus lanes ...
And then the final travelling treat (?). Our Vantage-mobile pulled into the Park and Ride site at the A580 M60 junction.
Then it was back to Leigh but with a stop at the Tyldesley bus stop and interchange.
More investigation needed. Certainly more services were shown on the under test "real time" displays. fbb hopes something will be done to make these legible. The text was very small ...
fbb had a nice chat with a lady from BBC Radio Manchester, seen here interviewing the MP ...
"Was it a good idea?" she asked the bulbous and opinionated one, thankfully off-air. "£68 million is a lot to spend to save a bit of running time," your blogger opined, "and eight buses an hour is a lot of extra bums on seats needed to make it all work." She dutifully wrote something down in her notebook and moved on.
But, to their credit, First Bus are showing a commercial determination to make a go of it
Customers travelling on the busway service, branded Vantage by operator First Greater Manchester, will pay a maximum of £1 for any single journey between Leigh/Atherton, Tyldesley and Ellenbrook (Newearth Rd, Worsley). The promotional fare will be available for at least 6 months from the start of services on 3 April.
When fbb first read this, he was astounded at First's generosity, but on reading more carefully, the £1 offer is for rides on the busway only and locally between Tyldesley and Atherton. A somewhat less attractive offer is for a free day trip busway ticket ...
Customers can also claim their complimentary free taster ticket. Up to and including 2 April ...
Boo. Today's your last chance!
... customers can register at www.firstgroup.com/vantage for a complimentary day mobile-ticket.
Boo. Only on your mobile phone.
Possibly the last word belongs to celebrated transport guru Barry Doe.
To which the great man replied "I am amazed that any busway could be described as interesting. It's just a poor excuse for not building a railway or a tram which would be much better."
Plenty of folk in Leigh would agree with him.