NORTH Yorkshire’s penny-pinching “minimalist” approach to public transport is being condemned by a leading bus user organisation – the 300 member Friends of Dalesbus also known as the Yorkshire Dales Public Transport Users Group, writes its vice chair, Colin Speakman.

In particular, FoDB believes North Yorkshire Council is totally out of touch with the Government’s own environmental and transport policies, including the new £2 maximum bus fare.

Writing in its summer newsletter to members Paul Harrison, chair of FoDB comments: “We need to persuade the North Yorkshire authorities that this is no longer a viable route forward as it fails to meet or marry the everyday needs of their residents, ongoing climate issues, and the leisure demands upon the county with two national parks.

“Yet in North Yorkshire, where people still need to get to work, education , or elsewhere, a completely different and minimalistic policy is in operation including:

• not supporting bus services running more frequently than every two hours • not supporting bus services on Sundays

• not supporting bus services primarily for leisure purposes."

The group points out the hardship now being suffered in the Craven area by locals and visitors alike by the loss of the popular through X84 buses between Skipton and Leeds.

This has massively reduced travel choice for many Skipton residents. Worse, the replacement 64 service has been reduced to a limited service of just one bus every two hours, with early and late journeys removed, making onward connections impossible and restricting travel to work opportunities.

Saturday services are especially poor, and there is no Sunday service apart from a very limited DalesBus. There is also a total lack of co-operation between North Yorkshire and neighbouring authorities, with cross-boundary bus services being savagely reduced between both West Yorkshire and Lancashire into North Yorkshire, in total contradiction of Government policies.

The draconian reductions in bus service 72 between Skipton and Grassington is another example of how North Yorkshire is defying national climate policies by reinforcing car usage, by reducing travel choice.

Not only is the popular 72 Skipton-Grassington service reduced to a “skeletal” two hourly service, but only two buses a day now serve Skipton railway station forcing passengers with luggage to walk nearly a quarter mile between bus and rail stations.

Meanwhile grandiose £7.8 million plans for Skipton Station forecourt will actually hand over the prime bus stop area for all day blue badge parking, leaving only a tiny “taxi” rank area for public buses.

These are ill-thought through, even anti-bus, proposals which will actually reduce any future hope of integrated transport for Skipton, as bus users are once again marginalised.

FoDB claim that we are in this situation because of deliberate political choice. Both X84/64 and 72 could have been saved as hourly services if North Yorkshire had restored the draconian 75 per cent  cut in bus support from £6 million to £1.7 million per annum made between 2012 and 2018. These cuts have never been restored, despite increased funding from central Government.

Equally, reports are reaching FoDB of passengers being left behind in the summer months in two of the county’s most popular tourist spots, Malham and Bolton Abbey, where cramped 16 seater minibuses replaced standard bus services of a decade ago.

Malham is heavily congested with traffic, yet on weekdays the last bus departs from Malham at 1.35pm – hopeless for a day visit to this iconic tourist destination in the heart of the national park.

Unbelievably, it is no longer possible to get to Bolton Abbey or Burnsall on a Tuesday or Thursday by bus even during the school summer holidays.

Not only is this lack of choice preventing younger people or those on lower incomes from visiting the national park – so much for access for all- it is affecting jobs as, for example desperately needed workers can no longer get to cafes and hotels in Wharfedale, because there is no bus service to meet their needs and their modest wages will not pay for a taxi or enable them to run a car. Poor bus services are now damaging the Dales economy.

Another source of anger is North Yorkshire’s complete failure to market even their own bus services, for example with printed timetables that most users depend on.

Yet when DalesBus produced the highly popular comprehensive timetable booklet for the Yorkshire Dales, North Yorkshire, one of the wealthiest local authorities in England, flatly refused to offer even minimal support towards printing costs.

Yet users see a gleam of hope if the new North Yorkshire Council begin to adopt more enlightened policies, working with, not against, bus operators such as Transdev (operators of the 64 and 72) and the excellent Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire who have retained the hourly 580 Skipton-Settle service without subsidy, offering onward connections to Ingleton and Lancaster.

But KLCH have been refused help from North Yorkshire to restore a Sunday service, despite the obvious benefits such a service would have to the economies of Settle, Ingleton and Skipton.

In public transport terms, (the former)  North Yorkshire County Council has failed in its duty to provide a decent, affordable network of services. It does not have to be like this.

Other rural authorities in England, such as Cornwall, put them to shame. We are desperately hoping the new North Yorkshire authority, and even better the new elected York and North Yorkshire Metro Mayor, will change the dismal situation that people living in rural Yorkshire without access a car are currently in.

But at very least local residents are urged to respond to the consultation ongoing at

We can only hope, that this time at least, the new North Yorkshire Council will listen to what people say.

The Craven Herald has asked North Yorkshire Council to respond.