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MEP joins fight for rural bus routes

[Friday 22 February 2008]
Timothy Kirkhope
MEP joins fight for rural bus routes

Timothy Kirkhope, MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber and Conservative spokesman for transport and tourism in the European Parliament, has joined passengers for what could be one of the last journeys on a popular bus route through the Yorkshire Dales.

Timothy was accompanied by Howard Handley, chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Public Transport Users Group (YDPTUG), as they travelled on DalesBus Service 806 to learn first-hand the difficulties faced on rural bus routes in the region.

178 passengers used the last Arriva service 805 on 30th December, which operated from Wakefield, via Leeds to Hawes. The service ran every Sunday until the end of December when a change in EU tachograph legislation made it impossible to continue. YDPTUG is currently running the monthly 806 service following a slightly different route as the coach used will not fit through Bolton Arch. The organisation is trying to source funding to re-start the weekly service, which is used regularly by walkers, from April.

Timothy Kirkhope said: “There is an assumption that everyone has a car and therefore we don’t need buses. However, there are a great number of people who perhaps due to age or infirmity do not have an alternative means of transport and rely on local bus services.

“The end of this service would be a tragedy as it provides an invaluable alternative to the car, taking hikers and rural residents up to or down from one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. Although the service has encountered a number of obstacles in its long history the EU Directive has driven another nail in the coffin. I am now pushing for plans to review the legislation. It is clear to me that the EU Directive on Drivers' Hours is partly responsible for the gradual erosion of such routes, proving both restrictive and costly. I welcome its review so that we can restore services like the DalesBus, which are important to the rural economy and a greener mode of transport.

Whilst we do an awful lot to help the urban communities in Yorkshire, the rural communities seem to be losing out

Timothy Kirkhope - MEP

“Whilst we do an awful lot to help the urban communities in Yorkshire, the rural communities seem to be losing out. Post offices are closing, communities are not receiving sufficient support and the infrastructure and transport needs seem to be prioritised in towns and cities. Keeping this service would have a positive impact on the rural economy through the extra tourism the bus service brings. I want to help organisations like the YDPTUG to get the support they need to provide these vital services.”

Howard Handley said: “This is also an important environmental issue. Do we really want more and more cars coming into the Dales? One bus can take up to 50 people but we cannot continue to run this service for much longer without funding.

“We appreciate Mr Kirkhope’s interest and hope he can help us raise the profile of our campaign.”

More information about public transport in the Dales, including details of the Dalesbus 806 service is available at www.dalesbus.org

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