FRIENDS of the Dales has recently welcomed the 500,000th passenger within a group of passengers on the weekend DalesBus services.

The services is provided by its wholly owned subsidiary Dales and Bowland Community Interest Company (D&BCIC). It 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 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.

Passenger numbers are growing too, with more than 40,000 journeys made in the last year, they are now higher than in 2019 before the pandemic. Many people are also 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 on a not-for-profit basis.

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.”

Campaigner and vice president of Friends of the Dales, Colin Speakman, added: “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. 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”.