In recent decades there has been a massive increase in car ownership. However, around 20% of families and individuals in the UK do not have access to a car and are therefore dependent on public transport. This percentage is higher among older and younger people and those on lower incomes.
The increase in car use has been accompanied by a decline in public transport services, which has made life more difficult for residents of the Dales who need to travel within and beyond the area to larger centres for services including shopping, schools, hospitals and other purposes, and also for those from outside who want to visit the Dales.
Nevertheless, despite such reductions the Dales still retains a network of conventional and Community Transport bus services, serving most larger villages and market towns, which also link with local train services. There are also the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle and Leeds-Morecambe railway lines, with local stations which offer daily services between the Dales and nearby conurbations. In addition there is the Sunday and Bank Holiday DalesBus network which provides car-free access around the National Park and the Nidderdale AONB, making possible a day or longer visit without a car, especially in the summer months.
The parking of large numbers of cars belonging to both residents and visitors has made Dales villages and other popular areas of the National Park less attractive visually and potentially more dangerous. There can be problems of congestion at times, and traffic can also be a source of air pollution along the busiest roads through the Dales.
Some roads and locations attract large numbers of motorcyclists. Some of these cause noise pollution over considerable distances, and their speed can be dangerous to both riders and other road users.
- We believe that both residents and visitors should have good access to public transport services which will allow them to travel into and around the Dales at all reasonable times throughout the year.
- We believe that visitors to the Dales should be encouraged to use public transport rather than cars whenever possible. This should include an emphasis on local bus and train services in all publicity about self-guided walks (stressing the value of the bus or train to facilitate linear walks) and the possibilities of taking bikes on trains.
- We encourage heritage and visitor attractions, also authors and publishers, to advertise in their publicity the availability of bus or train access, giving links to websites and travel lines for up-to-date information.
- We believe that the various bus and rail services should be integrated in terms of times and fares to provide the greatest degree of convenience and flexibility for users, with multi-journey and multi-operator tickets available at prices most users can afford.
- We support charges for car-parking at popular places, and deplore on-road parking which seeks to avoid such charges, and we urge highways authorities to use relevant physical and legal measures to discourage irresponsible and anti-social parking.
What we will do
- We will urge the various local authorities, including the National Park Authority, to give greater priority and resources to the provision of well-publicised public transport as an alternative to the use of the car, and the management of traffic and parking within the Dales.
- We will continue to support, both financially and with publicity, our subsidiary Dales & Bowland Community Interest Company in its provision and promotion of weekend DalesBus services for locals and visitors to the Dales.
- We will support and give publicity to all bus and rail services which give access to and within the Dales.
- We will support the Ride2Stride Festival which promotes walking from stations on the Settle-Carlisle Railway, and encourage other events and walks organisers to do the same.
- We will whenever possible arrange our own meetings and events to be accessible by public transport.
- We will support speed checks for vehicles on Dales roads, especially motor-cycles, and any future proposals for a maximum speed limit in National Parks.