THE biggest transport revolution in the Yorkshire Dales in living memory is gathering pace, with a new hub and extended bus services now announced across another area of the national park.
The Dales Integrated Transport Alliance (DITA), which last year scooped £1.1m in Government funding, plans to create seven local transport hubs across the Yorkshire Dales, monitored by a central IT scheduling system.
Since being launched in October, it has already led to extra services being piloted across Nidderdale and Wensleydale.
Now the alliance, which is made up of existing transport providers and community groups, has launched its Grassington hub staffed by trained volunteers to help residents and tourists by providing a range of transport and timetable information, and help with making travel bookings.
Alongside the new hub development, Pride of the Dales have extended their bus service between Skipton and Grassington and Buckden with evening and late buses on Friday and Saturday nights following financial support from DITA.
Julian Smith, the Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon, has hailed the latest development for the project which was set up after North Yorkshire County Council announced it was slashing its transport budget by 10 per cent,
“I’m delighted that this hub has opened and I hope it will bring a whole range of further services to the people of Grassington and beyond.
“I have been heartened to hear discussions are taking place with people about what services they would like and it is very good to see that translating into something tangible.
“The project was very exciting from the start and there has been a huge number of people involved with all sorts of different experience and skills.
“At a time when fuel is so expensive it is great that there are schemes like this.
“I do believe that if DITA and other similar organisations are flexible with services then it is a great time for the project.”
Mr Smith said it now depends on residents and visitors in the Yorkshire Dales to now use the new services to make them sustainable when the funding runs out.
“It is about making all this sustainable as quickly as possible,” he said.
“I hope that by offering services that are better integrated and suited to the changing needs of modern lives it will mean people will start to choose the bus over the car.”
Of the 73 bids submitted across the whole of the country last year, only 34 – one of which was DITA – were awarded the full amount they bid for from the Department for Transport’s local sustainable transport fund.
The Transport Select Committee review has revealed that cuts to rural, evening and weekend services are damaging the ability of many people, especially the elderly, young or disabled, to get jobs or improve their education.
DITA’s bid stressed its vision to ensure that a sustainable transport network underpins and promotes economic prosperity throughout the Dales, while minimising carbon emissions.
Reacting to the opening of the new hub, Helen Flynn, chair of DITA, said ‘We have been piloting similar services in Nidderdale with great success since October 2011.
“Members of the public have been enthusiastic about the new services and the hope is that they will become sustainable.
“Hopefully the same level of take-up will occur on the evening services here in Wharfedale.”
The Grassington hub was opened following a public meeting in January this year, where residents were asked about their concerns over transport in the area and what was needed.
Project leader Kate Sewell said “At the public meeting we held in Grassington, we had a fantastic response regarding the need for an evening service, and now the hub is established it can work in conjunction with residents and local transport operators.”
Anyone interested in volunteering at the Grassington hub can contact hub manager Ann Wild on 01756 752222.
To find out more about the integrated transport alliance, visit www.dalesconnect.net or call 07919 391 773.