WHARFEDALE politicians have been trying out a new bus service designed to open up the Yorkshire Dales. Dales Bus launched its Nidderdale Rambler 821 summer service on Bank Holiday Monday, May 7. The bus takes passengers from Guiseley White Cross, Otley and several villages in the Washburn Valley - as well as Keighley, Bingley, Saltaire and Shipley - into the heart of Nidderdale. Running on Sundays and Bank holidays through to Sunday, September 30, it is the result of fundraising by Friends of Dales Bus. Members of the group were out in force to see their work pay off last Monday, when passengers streamed aboard.
Among those enjoying the trip were MPs Alex Sobel (Lab, Leeds North West) and John Grogan (Lab, Keighley) and Councillor Ryk Downes (Lib Dem, Otley & Yeadon).
Mr Sobel said: "It was a great pleasure not only to help launch such a wonderful achievement but to spend the day with my family enjoying what such a service has to offer.
"We could get to Housean Gorge cheaply, quickly and easily.
"I was very impressed by the spirit and positive atmosphere and the friendly, professional staff who joined us on board.
"Not only does this service benefit those without access to a car, but travelling to the Dales on the bus brings its own benefits.
"It allows you to sit back and enjoy the journey through some of the most breathtaking countryside, to plan walks that do not have to circulate back to a car, and to travel cheaply with great benefit to the environment.
"I hope people continue to use this service throughout the season and look forward to a continuing relationship with Friends of Dales Bus."
Cllr Downes, who - along with fellow ward Councillors Colin Campbell and Sandy Lay - provided £500 of MICE money to help fund the service, said: "On Bank Holiday Monday I caught the 821 Dales Bus at Otley and got off at Pateley Bridge.
"I took the opportunity to run back along The Six Dales Trail to Otley in blistering, 28C heat.
"I was very happy, along with my ward colleagues, to provide MICE money support for an excellent service to help people access and enjoy the fantastic scenery the Dales offers, and would encourage others to go exploring this summer!"
Mr Grogan added: "Otley bus station is now a hub for Dales Bus and, just before 10am on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays in the summer, there are now no less than three buses heading off into the Yorkshire countryside.
"Passengers from Keighley can also continue on the new service, which starts from the town’s bus station, directly into Nidderdale, or switch on to a bus for Grassington, Kettlewell and Malham."
Vice Chair of Friends of Dales Bus, Colin Speakman, said: "I am delighted to see the effort and hard work of so many committed volunteers pay off.
"The bus launch was a great success and we are pleased so many people are hearing about our routes and coming along to try it for themselves.
"Our aim is simple: to give easy and affordable access to the outstanding natural beauty of Nidderdale."
For more details about the 821 and other Dales Bus services visit www.dalesbus.org .