Park fears traffic blight as bus service is closed

NATIONAL park chiefs have admitted they are facing an increasing battle to contain traffic congestion and pollution as the Government’s cutbacks have led to the axing of a hugely successful public transport scheme.

The Moorsbus initiative came to an end amid emotional scenes with a final run on Sunday, leaving a huge gap in the transport network across the North York Moors National Park.

North York Moors National Park Authority directors yesterday confirmed that they are facing a huge challenge to find an alternative service within intense financial pressures caused by the Government’s funding cuts.

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The authority’s assistant director of park services, Michael Graham, said: “We are having to look towards more ingenious ways of providing services, and public transport is no different.

“But the Moorsbus will not be coming back. It is obviously a huge shame but it was unsustainable in its current guise.”

Mr Graham confirmed talks are underway with commercial bus operators and a volunteer-led public transport service, similar to the DalesBus project, could be introduced.

The Moorsbus scheme, which carried about 10,000 passengers a year, has been among the hardest hit services as the authority’s grant from the Government is slashed by 21.5 per cent from £5.1m in 2011/12 to £4.3m by 2014/15.

The bus service was in use for 86 days during 2010, but it has been repeatedly scaled back and operated for just 38 days this year.

While the Moorsbus network cost £265,000 to run in 2010, it was operated for £160,000 from the end of April until last weekend.

If it had operated at the same level as 2010 during this year, it would cost £370,000, with the increase largely blamed on the soaring price of fuel.