ONE year ago this week the town centre transformation started to take shape with the opening of the Bus Interchange.

The first passengers were wowed by the light and airy new concourse, which opened on August 21 with the first bus leaving at 5.08am. But has it been built to last?

Nigel Featham, managing director of Warrington Borough Transport, seems to think so.

He said: "We have seen a real growth in passenger numbers. In 2006/07 we saw an extra million people using the buses and that is down to lots of things but the bus station was a factor.

"We have not had to make any major changes at all. There has been at its peak 120 buses in an hour and it has stood up to that."

The bus interchange was built by the council to complement the Golden Square development and includes 19 bays for buses, comfy waiting areas and real time bus information displayed at each stand.

Despite opening setbacks - including the flooring being deemed too slippery and thieves taking the sink knobs from the gentlemen's toilets during the opening weekend - the station has run smoothly.

And the station saw another boost earlier this year with the opening of the expansion to Golden Square.

"Warrington has public transport standards way ahead of the norm. The station is miles ahead of the one we used to have. It wasn't a nice place to work in, now everybody enjoys working there," added Mr Featham.

The impact of the new interchange, which is also close to Warrington Central Station, has also been felt by businesses in the town.

Michael Hancock, chairman of Warrington Town Centre Partnership, said: "It has been a significant improvement for the town and we have heard a lot of good things about it. We have been pulling in more people to the town."

All that remains is the opening of the retail units.

Mr Featham concluded: "We expect that it will be the best Christmas for many years."