SKIPTON'S long-awaited new bus station will not now open until the new year.
Following discussions with the main bus operators, North Yorkshire County Council has decided to wait until after the busy Christmas period to make the new 1.2m bus station site available for use.
The council and the bus operators, which include Pride of the Dales, Lancashire United, Pennine Motor Services, Keighley and District Travel, Harrogate and District Travel and First Leeds were concerned that they would not have sufficient time to notify passengers of the changes properly.
They were also worried that they would be introducing drivers to new arrangements at a time when holiday commitments meant that there aren't as many staff available to help everyone become accustomed to the new arrangements.
The council's Integrated Passenger Transport team had previously reported that completion was on target for December 19.
The council has now agreed with the bus operators should use it from January 5 although the car park, taxi rank and toilets should be ready to use already.
County Coun Clare Wood, executive member for passenger transport said: "We all wanted to make sure that the transition back to the bus station went as smoothly as possible and that means ensuring that we give people plenty of notice and good information – we didn't want passengers to be left in any difficulties at this busy Christmas period.
"Passengers are familiar with the temporary arrangements that have been in place since the beginning of September and so after some discussion we felt it best to become fully operational after the busy holiday period.
''The bus operators asked us to delay the opening. If there are any hiccoughs we want to make sure the bus operators have staff on hand to deal with it and over the Christmas period you can't guarantee that they are going to be there.
"This will be a tremendous improvement to travel facilities for the people of Skipton and surrounding communities in the New Year.
"It has been a huge venture and is a fantastic result for Skipton. I am sure that on January 5 everyone will be pleased with the result. It has been a long time coming and I am very, very pleased that we have been able to make a priority for funding this new station and give the people of Skipton what they deserve.''
Key features of the new bus station include:
Eight bus stands, including provision for community transport vehicles and National Express coaches;
Each bus stand to provide easy access to buses from raised bus boarder kerbs;
Safe pedestrian routes throughout the site;
Covered waiting facilities with seating;
Dedicated rank area for 13 taxis;
Motor cycle parking;
Car parking, including designated disabled bays
The bus station scheme was first considered as part of the Skipton Traffic Management Strategy back in December 2002.
The following year the county council was awarded 10m for integrated passenger transport schemes, but this was reduced to 7m and resulted in some schemes, including the bus station, being delayed.