A DECISION will be made today over the future of a Dales bus service which has been scaled-back to the detriment of both residents and traders.

Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire could be appointed to run the Ingleton to Skipton route, previously operated by defunct Pennine Buses, if a three-month trial is given the green light by North Yorkshire County Council.

Since May 16, the previously hourly service, stopping at Settle, Long Preston and Gargrave, has been operated on a reduced service by North Yorkshire County Council with just a 16-seater minibus.

Now some residents say they have been unable to get to work, reach hospital appointments or go about their usual shopping habits, while traders say business has dropped off as a result.

Colin Speakman, a vice- president of The Dales Society, said: “Every day that this continues, people are at risk of losing their jobs because they can’t get to work. It is affecting the lives and well being of the whole community. We’re very hopeful that we’ll have some good news.”

It is estimated the Ingleton to Skipton service, the 581, will cost around £35,000 per year to run.

If funding is approved by North Yorkshire County Council, a three month trial service could be operated by Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire, which already runs the Sunday and bank holiday DalesBus service.

The service would run from Kirkby Lonsdale via Ingleton and Settle to Skipton using two 33 seater buses, with the possibility of a 42-seater low floor, fully accessible bus being introduced in mid-July.

Passengers would be able to buy tickets for the whole journey, but there would be a change of number at Settle to meet legal requirements.

Matthew Sutton, manager of Kirkby Lonsdale Coaches, said: “We would love the work and want to help the people out in North Yorkshire. But it has to be sustainable. I am not prepared to ruin the business.”

If the two-hourly service is successful it will then be put to tender.

The plan will be discussed by the Craven Area Transport Committee.