Axed bus service could be replaced… by volunteers

An axed bus service could be replaced with a voluntary service to help keep people on the move.

A local charity is investigating the possibility of replacing the service to enable residents to access key services in the area.

Thirsk District Community Minibus Association said they had been inundated with requests for public transport to replace the old “figure of eight” service through Thirsk and Sowerby – which bus operator Dales and District used to run until just two weeks ago.

The service came to an end as the Campaign for Better Transport claimed North Yorkshire County Council cut more bus services than any other local authority in the country over the last year.

It said a 25 per cent budget cut by the authority, which is currently in the process of cutting its budget by £167m because of a reduction in Government funding, led to a total of 90 different bus services being reduced, altered or axed.

The move comes four years after the Little White Bus service was launched in Upper Wensleydale, which has since won a contract to become the only bus operator for Wensleydale and Swaledale.

The association, which was launched in 1987 and currently operates two minibuses, is now considering running a reduced service, which would be staffed by volunteer drivers and would be funded through grants and donations from the passengers themselves.

 The group is considering running the service from Thirsk Market Place, with a route that would include Sowerby Road, Front Street, Back Lane, Gravel Hole Lane and Topcliffe Road, but has not decided what days or times it would run yet.

A spokesman for the group said:

“We have been approached by numerous residents who are deeply concerned about the loss of this service.

“The cost of a return trip to Thirsk from Sowerby by taxi could be £7 for some residents, and if you are regularly going to the doctors, then going to collect prescriptions and pick up groceries, that could soon mount up and make certain journeys unaffordable.”

 “We are concerned that some residents, and in particular elderly people who were the majority of users of the previous service, may face the prospect of becoming isolated or housebound without a bus service.”

 The group hopes the service could be up and running before the end of May.
Source – Northern Echo, 02 May 2015
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