Charity Friends of the Dales has recently welcomed the 500,000th passenger onto the weekend DalesBus services provided by its wholly owned subsidiary Dales and Bowland Community Interest Company (D&BCIC).
D&BCIC was established back in 2007 to help keep buses running between Ilkley and Skipton on Sundays and Bank Holidays, following withdrawal of the service contracted by North Yorkshire County Council. D&BCIC has managed that service ever since, and has expanded to manage most bus services in the Yorkshire Dales area on Sundays and Bank Holidays with a network of around a dozen routes during the summer months, with some routes continuing all year round. Two services are now provided on Saturdays as well, including popular double-decker DalesBus 59 linking Skipton, Bolton Bridge, Blubberhouses and Harrogate. This year has seen the launch of an improved Sunday bus service into the Washburn Valley supported by Yorkshire Water, as well as the introduction of an extra double-decker journey between Leeds and Grassington, continuing to Upper Wharfedale and Hawes.
An increased service for Winter 2023-24 has just been announced, with the continuation of Saturday DalesBus service 74 between York, Harrogate, Ilkley and Grassington, and Sunday Cravenlink service 864 between Bradford, Ilkley, Skipton and Malham through the winter months on a trial basis.
Passenger numbers are growing too, with over 40,000 journeys made in the last year, and are now higher than in 2019 before the pandemic. Many people are taking advantage of the current £2 cap on single bus fares which continues until the end of October. Elderly and disabled bus passes are valid on most DalesBus services too.
The company is entirely run by volunteers and operates on a not-for-profit basis with all income used to provide and publicise local bus services.
Bruce Macleod, Chair of Friends of the Dales, said “We’re delighted to have been able to help so many people to travel more sustainably into and around the Yorkshire Dales area over the last 16 years and the 500,000 passenger is testament to that. We are however very dependent on one-off short-term grants and donations, so are calling on North Yorkshire Council to recognise the importance of Sunday bus services to the physical and mental health of the residents of North Yorkshire, especially young people for whom buses are often the sole means of rural transport, and to therefore include financial support for a good daily bus service across the area in its new Local Transport Plan.”
“We would also like to thank the many businesses, organisations and individuals who have helped to support D&BCIC’s DalesBus services over the last sixteen years. We’re now urgently looking for funding to help maintain and develop our services next year so please get in touch via email@example.com if you might be interested in helping by sponsoring a service. Without additional funding these popular services are under threat.“
Local transport campaigner and Vice President of Friends of the Dales, Colin Speakman, said “At a time of environmental crisis, DalesBus has never been so important by offering an attractive alternative to congestion and pollution in the National Park. Equally important DalesBus offers local residents and visitors equality of opportunity to access the countryside. It is now high time for both the new North Yorkshire Council and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to put their money where their mouths are, to ensure DalesBus is put on a sustainable basis, by prioritising support for what is a huge success story in the Yorkshire Dales”.
Full details of the DalesBus network are available online at www.dalesbus.org, with timetable booklets available from many local outlets.