A not-for-profit company established by the Yorkshire Dales Society has offered to take over the management of the threatened Saturday bus service between Skipton and Malham and, at the same time, restore a much-missed transport link between Skipton and Harrogate.
The Dales & Bowland Community Interest Company wants to introduce a Saturday service, which would run between Harrogate and Skipton, via Bolton Abbey and Embsay, and would then continue on to Malham, calling at Gargrave, Airton and Kirkby Malham.
The company estimates that the service could be operated on a pilot basis from April to October for as little as £7,000.
It says this is a tiny fraction of the money still available to North Yorkshire County Council for rural bus services.
Managing director Colin Speakman said: “It is unthinkable that the nationally known heritage destination of Malham, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, should be inaccessible to anyone without a car on a Saturday.
“Our proposal will give an opportunity for a full day in Malham, but also give the local community a shopping service either to Skipton or Harrogate.
“By starting the bus from Harrogate, not only will this open up a large new market for visitors and shoppers to both Skipton and Malham, but the bus will also serve Bolton Abbey, Strid Woods and the Embsay Steam Railway.
“It will also restore the much missed X59 bus route between Skipton and Harrogate, giving Skipton, Gargrave and Malham residents over two-and-a-half hours in Harrogate for lunch and shopping.”
The company has offered to promote and manage the service on behalf of the county council and hopes to repeat the success of its DalesBus initiative which has seen a threefold growth in passenger numbers since 2006 on the Sunday network.
Mr Speakman added: “We believe that it is up to the elected members of the county council and Malham Parish Council to decide if they would like to see this service implemented. The D&BCIC has a track record of success and is keen to work with Dales communities and businesses to help the local economy with well planned, well promoted public transport services.”
The company also believes that by providing a minibus or even a shared taxi link to feed into the Pennine 580 bus services which meet at Gargrave and making better use of the late afternoon school bus, Malham could have a daily bus service to meet the needs of visitors and local people at less cost than the present little-used three-days-a- week provision.