Communities will be left isolated after Craven’s Pennine buses run for the last time tomorrow, it has been claimed.
The demise of the familiar orange-and-black buses after nearly 90 years is being blamed on increased competition and cuts in reimbursements for concessionary fares.
From Monday North Yorkshire County Council will run a much-reduced timetable using 16 seater minibuses, which, it is claimed, will leave communities isolated.
The county council said it had put together the best possible package within its resources.
But a pennine bus driver, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed: “People will be left stranded.”
In some cases the current hourly timetable has been slashed to just three buses a day and it is feared the minibuses will not be able to cope with the demand. There will be no weekend service.
“It is scandalous,” said the driver. “People will not be able to get to work. A 16-seater is not enough. We currently use 39-seaters, which are well loaded. The whole thing is ludicrous.
“Pennine buses are part of the fabric of the Dales and it is incredibly sad that they won’t be around any longer.
“Essentially if the council had made proper reimbursements we would not be in this position.”
He added that passengers were horrified by what was happening.
Transport enthusiast Tim Moody, who grew up in Embsay and used the bus to get to school, predicted the new arrangements would not work.
He said a lot of people relied on bus services to get around.
“Last October, my father – who lives in Embsay – was taken ill and could not drive for six months.
“He used the bus to get around, but if the same thing happened today, he would not be able to get out of the village.”
He said there was a danger that the minibuses would be full from the start of the journey, so would not be able to service villages on the route.
“It is going to isolate comnmunities and the people in them,” said Mr Moody.
“We are not talking about small rural communities with a couple of residents, but quite sizeable populations. It is going to be a complete disaster.”
Skipton MP Julian Smith, who raised concerns about rural bus services in the House of Commons on Thursday, said he would be monitoring whether  the new service met community needs and would lobby to fill any gaps.
“I think it is really important that the council and community work together to make sure the service fits,” said Mr Smith, who added that any shortfalls needed to be backed up by evidence.
A spokesman for North Yorkshire County Council said the authority had put together the best possible package within its resources.
“If experience demonstrates that the services are not sufficient to meet demand, we will have to look at it again.”
Pennine operates services to Embsay, Carleton, Settle, East Lancashire and around Skipton’s Horse Close estate.