NORTH Yorkshire Council says it hopes there will be more frequent buses between Grassington and Skipton next year following cuts to the service.

Bus operator Transdev introduced a new “skeletal” two hourly service for the 72 route in May due to commercial pressures.

Grassington resident Tony Sergeant told councillors at the Skipton and Ripon Constituency Committee meeting in Skipton on Thursday that the cuts have had a negative impact on rural residents.

He said the 72 route is a “vital lifeline” for locals and also helps bring tourists to the Dales town to support businesses but without regular buses it’s forced some people to “remain stuck in their homes”.

Mr Sergeant said more than 150 people have signed a petition objecting to the cuts.

He said: “The pattern is depressingly familiar. Services get reduced to save money then people find they can can’t rely on it any longer and they make alternative arrangements. Then fewer people use the services, they need more money and subsidies and so it goes on.”

Following the government’s decision to scrap the Northern leg of HS2 in October, North Yorkshire Council was given £3.5m to spend on local transport services and Mr Sergeant called on the council to spend some of that money on improving bus services in the Dales.  Former Craven council leader Richard Foster who now represents the Wharfedale division for the Conservatives on North Yorkshire Council, said “we need a better service” in the Dales as it’s “not up to scratch”.

Council officer David Smith read out a statement on behalf of the authority which said the council’s HS2 windfall is expected to be spent on “maintaining existing bus service levels” but “longer-term funding is needed to deliver the improvements to public transport.”

Mr Smith said the council has put out a tender to run the 72 service and there are options to increase the number of buses that run throughout the day.

He added: “The changes to the timetable earlier this year were in reaction to commercial service withdrawals across the Skipton network and was part of a plan to ensure services can be retained on all routes, albeit on a lower frequency.  “The contract for the 72 is out to tender and we have included options to increase the service frequency. Given the additional funding likely to be available next year, we’d hope to see a more frequent timetable from Easter 2024.”