Lancaster District Bus Users Group has learned that Lancashire County Council is to refuse to allow concessionary bus passes ("NOW Cards") to be used on a Summer Sunday service to the Yorkshire Dales.
The Northern Dalesman service, which links Morecambe and Lancaster with Ingleton, Hawes, Keld and Richmond, is provided by the Dales & Bowland Community Interest Company as part of a network of bus services designed to allow people to visit the Yorkshire Dales without using their cars. The service is operated by Travellers' Choice of Carnforth.
Last year, North Yorkshire County Council took advantage of a little-known clause in the concessionary fares legislation to designate the service as being "primarily for tourism" which meant that concessionary passes could not be used,
At the time, Lancashire decided not to go along with this, leading to the unusual situation that pass-holders boarding in Lancaster to travel into the Dales could travel free but had to pay on the return journey if they got on the bus in North Yorkshire.
For the 2016 season however, Lancashire - citing budget cuts and the need for savings - is following North Yorkshire's lead and has refused to admit the service into the Concessionary Fares Scheme, despite it being the only Sunday service in the Lune Valley following the council's withdrawal of subsidy for other routes.
Jim Davies, Chair of Lancaster District Bus Users' Group said "Lancaster Bus Users and Dales Bus fans will be very disappointed at the Council's action. The savings that can be expected from excluding passes from a once-weekly bus, running only in the summer months, will be trivial and the county council is being petty as well as short-sighted in taking this action."
"The NOW Card scheme is highly valued by local people and the Group feels that this is the thin end of the wedge and will engender fears that passes may be withdrawn from other services in the future".