A COMMUNITY bus which came to the rescue of rural customers has been a roaring success in its first year.

The Upper Wharfedale Venturer, which runs between Grassington and Buckden and links with Skipton and Ilkley, has carried over 12,000 passengers and covered 30,000 miles.

The 72b is overseen by 20 volunteers ranging from those trained to drive the bus, to look after the administration, carry out book-keeping and deal with the payroll and publicity.

The service operates three times a day between Buckden and Grassington on school days and five times a day on Saturdays and school holidays.

Volunteer driver, Gill Owen, said:“It was a bit daunting at first but now I enjoy every journey. Chatting with visitors about their walks and where they are staying is lovely. Local people and visitors appreciate our bus and what we all do to keep it going”.

Regular bus user Mary Hurst, from Kettlewell, was devastated when she heard that the old service was to be scrapped, fearing that she and others without their own transport would not be able to go on living in the upper dale.

“It’s wonderful – a life-saver. Quality of life for older people depends on being able to get out and about, and without the Venturer we wouldn’t be able to," she said.

Upper Wharfedale Bus Company director, Peter Vetch said: "We're very pleased with how it is going. Passenger numbers are slightly higher than we had planned for and there are more paying passengers than we had forecast in our business plan.

"As a result the service is meeting its financial targets and with a four year contract from NYCC, the service should be safe until at least 2020”.

Buckden Parish Councillor and Upper Wharfedale Bus director, Chris Clark, whose idea it was to set up the service said: “It's likely that there will be an increasing requirement for the Upper Wharfedale communities to become more self-determining. The Venturer epitomises this.”