A TOWN council is leading the way to rescue a crucial Dales bus service, giving a £1,050 grant in the hope other local authorities will follow suit.

Bedale Town Council answered an appeal from the Friends of DalesBus to help fund the Wensleydale Flyer service next year.

Currently train operator LNER helps pay for the DalesBus 856, which starts in Northallerton and covers a 40-mile journey up through the Dales to Bedale, Leyburn, Aysgarth, Bainbridge, and Hawes on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Connections are provided at Northallerton station for passengers getting on and off the trains.

But the funding from LNER ends at Easter 2022.

A council spokesperson said: “Councillors thought that the bus was an asset to the town, both for residents and visitors to journey up the Dale, and for Bedale residents without access to a car to be able to access Northallerton and especially the Friarage Hospital.

“The support is for the next financial year in the hope that the service will attract more regular support from commercial sources or the new North Yorkshire Council after that.

“The council also hopes that this gesture would be matched by most or all of the 19 other towns and parishes through which the bus passes, most notably Northallerton, Leyburn and Hawes.”

Ruth Annison, of Friends of DalesBus, said: “Bedale Town Council’s immediate and generous response recognises the plight that their residents and visitors would be in if this valuable Sunday service were to be lost.

“The route of the DalesBus 856 service ticks all the public transport boxes of connectivity, reliability, and year-round service.

“It supports Bedale as a destination whilst also offering the town’s residents and staycation visitors, including walkers, car-free access up Wensleydale and a rail connection at Northallerton. We want to say a very warm thanks to Bedale’s councillors for their understanding and generosity.”

In recent years LNER had supported the bus through a community fund, with several businesses, councillors and other donors putting in money.

The service doesn’t qualify for support from the county council’s transport budget. The Friends say: “Although there is much talk of possible government funding for future bus services, at present no reassurance can be given about the continuation of the DalesBus 856 beyond Easter 2022 when the LNER funding ends.”

A written approach has been made to all 19 town and parish councils along the route between Northallerton and Hawes, and other parish councils close enough to it for their residents and visitors to use the service.

The aim is to raise a substantial proportion of the subsidy required for the financial year 2022-2023 for formal approaches to be made to external bodies for match-funding.

"Today's motorists may feel that bus services have nothing to do with them. However the pressures and impact of rising fuel prices and climate change may bring a dependency on public transport that most people can barely imagine as yet. Donations or sponsorship from individuals, local businesses and organisations, would also be very welcome.

"We hope local support will help secure the future of this remarkable through service, which connects four market towns and all the villages between them with three return services every Sunday and Bank Holiday."

Go to www.friendsofdalesbus.org.uk

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