From next April, North Yorkshire County Council, is planning to axe funding for all Sunday and evening bus services. A consultation is currently in progress that completes at the end of October (I’m just after discovering this on the Dalebus website; yes, I’m late to the party…). Apparently, they are trying to protect the weekday services but it seems excessive to ask if this is a good way to help save £600,000. After all, that hardly is a princely sum, is it?
The now defunct Cheshire County Council tried a similar thing with evening bus services during the 2001-2005 council and the response from the public was such that they largely abandoned their plans. That makes me wonder what those in North Yorkshire have been doing about this and whether those cuts are going to happen in their proposed form. Of course, the parlous state of the public finances are in play now, unlike the early noughties.
Apparently, the council does wish to protect their Monday to Friday daytime network but there is one factor that acts as an exposed flank: most people are at work when those services run. That particularly is the case in a largely urban area but North Yorkshire is very rural and then there’s the age profile of the population. A visit to Skipton a while ago on market day has had me wondering at how many older folk were going around with the aid of walking sticks. This has a part to play too and no one wants to isolate the vulnerable from essential services such as doctors and hospitals. Still, I am left wondering about those late evening appointments and how some would get home from them; would they be able to afford a taxi? Then, there are those who might need to get to and from work in the off time too. What are they going to do if these cuts become reality?
One thing always troubles evening, Sunday and bank holiday services and is the reason why they attract council subsidy: patronage or, rather, the lack of it. Some clearly have no advocates but it will be interesting to see how much agitation the Dalesbus group can muster. Maybe, when the Yorkshire Dales and Moors fill up with cars like other national parks, sense might prevail but only time will tell on that one. For now, it’s over to us users to defend what’s already there and maybe even combine to address any losses.
As for me, I am not sure what it means for those recreational visits to Yorkshire’s countryside. They only ever were recreational and any reduction in travel services is likely to curtail them more. It might be that I have had my fun and will need to cut my cloth according to my measure from now on. With that in mind, I am thankful for the enjoyable explorations that I have done.