Pennine Motor Services to cease trading

It has come as a surprise for me to hear that Pennine Motor Services of Skipton in North Yorkshire is to cease trading in the middle of May, 2014-05-16 in fact. The business has been in existence since 1925 and its demise looks more of a shame given how long it has been around. In fact, they bought another bus in the last few months. Next year would have seen it reach ninety years of trading but that sadly is not to be.

It is tempting to wonder if the most recent round of bus funding cuts being implemented by North Yorkshire County Council has led to the decision. Looking through the actual cuts themselves, it does seem that Pennine did not get out too badly from these. That leaves reductions in reimbursement for those passengers who are entitled to free travel and that has caused trouble elsewhere. Without knowing more though, nothing else can be added but both of these have to be making the bus business that much harder for many operators.

Things probably were more rosy when I first saw their distinctive black and orange buses in 2000 while I spent six weeks around Skipton being trained ahead of placement with a client of the company for which I had started worked at the time. In fact, I used their Burnley service to get to my then new place of work on my first morning there. It was only a few years afterwards when I travelled on a service from Settle to Skipton after a February day spent walking through that part of the Yorkshire Dales. It was a certain amount of impatience that had me using a bus instead of awaiting a train and the cold of the evening might have added further persuasion as to the merits of the idea.

Here are the services that will be affected by Pennine’s demise:

210: Skipton – Malham

212: Skipton – Carleton-in-Craven

214: Skipton – Embsay

215: Skipton – Burnley

216: Skipton town service

580: Skipton – Settle

Off all of these, it was the 215 that I used on that April morning in 2000 when they ran exclusively ran Leyland Nationals. By the time that I used the 580 from Settle, Dennis Darts had superseded the Leylands and it was another of the Darts that had been bought most recently.

Apart from the Monday to Friday service 210 and the seven day service 215, all the services they offered ran from Monday to Saturday. That is not to say that Saturdays did not have less journeys running than on other days of the week since that was the case anyway. For instance, the Settle service is around two hourly on Saturdays when it was nearly hourly on other days of the week. As it happens, the additional journeys between Barnoldswick and Burnley are Monday to Friday only too.

So far, there is little word on possible replacements apart from Transdev Lancashire United stating that their own services between Burnley and Skipton will see extra journeys being offered on them from 2014-05-19. For places like Settle and Malham, only time will reveal what is to be offered to their residents.

Update 2014-05-12: North Yorkshire County Council has been forced to put in place a stopgap service between Skipton and Settle using its own 16-seater buses. The new route number is 58 and it offers no Saturday service like the 580 used to do. It also stops up in the early afternoon though there are three return journeys between Skipton and Settle as well as three return journeys between Skipton and Hellifield. There has been an attempt to interest local bus companies but that could need a council contract and there is not a lot of money around for those in these austere times. That especially is the case after NYCC forced through dramatic cuts to council supported services anyway.

2 thoughts on “Pennine Motor Services to cease trading

  1. NYCC is running a skeleton service to Carleton, Embsay and Greatwood as well, again weekdays only between 0930 and 1500 with 16-seat minibuses, a real bare bones affair.

    Pennine’s service to Malham was only a weekday journey each way at the start and end of the school day (but running all year round). That is likely to be replaced by a school-only journey. Daytime services are still run by NYCC on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, as they have been for a while (was previously run to the same pattern by Little Red Bus until they folded). Weekend services are provided through Dalesbus, and haven’t been run by Pennine for a very long time.

    While it’s a shame to see a venerable company like Pennine give up, you can’t help feeling that it isn’t all “someone else’s fault”. Yes, they suffered on the Burnley route because of competition by Transdev … but given the choice between a knackered ancient bus or a shiny new one, is it any wonder that Transdev won that fight? And on the 580, their fares were often *more* than the parallel train service, as well as the bus being slower and often little or no more frequent (especially at weekends). So that service has been filled with passholders to a greater degree than most, making it even more shaky.

    What I’ve not seen is any drive, any innovation, any real investment. They have been the last “proper” bus operator in the county to buy low-floor buses, and even then they have been picking up Dennis Darts that other companies are casting off because they’re too old, and then using them on interurban routes. There’s been no push to try to build passenger numbers up. Unfortunately, their time is up.

    • It is the effect on the services that matters more than the loss of a company so I agree with you there. That no one else could be interested in taking on Pennine’s routes could be telling a story too. As for innovation, that needs a certain investment and was there ever the cash for that?

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