The new picture on our masthead celebrates the introduction of Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire's new service 582 between Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale, introduced on 5th March.
|Lancaster to Skipton by bus in 2018|
Buses on this service continue through to Settle and Skipton as services 581/580 and restore the link between Lancaster and Skipton. Buses were first operated between the two towns by Pennine Motor Services of Gargrave in 1926 and from 1931 the service was jointly-operated with Ribble Motor Services of Preston (which eventually became part of the Stagecoach empire).
|How things were in 1981: A Pennine bus at Settle bound for Ingleton, where it would connect with a Lancaster service|
|1981 Again: This bus is at Clapham, heading for Skipton from Lancaster. Service 582 now provides this link.|
The joint service was numbered 580 in the Ribble series and had co-ordinated timetables and common fares with inter-available tickets. By the 1980s only Pennine buses completed the whole route, with four through journeys per day. At other times, Ribble buses ran from Lancaster to Ingleton and connected with Pennine buses on to Skipton to give an hourly link. This arrangement lasted until 1986 when the government decided that such co-operation was bad for passengers and what was really needed was competition. Unfortunately, the decline in the use of rural bus services meant that there was no room for two competing companies on the route and the operation was soon split into two halves, with Ribble operating between Lancaster and Ingleton and Pennine running between Ingleton and Skipton, with all the benefits of a through service being lost.
Pennine Motor Services ceased to trade in 2014, although by then it had retreated from Ingleton to Settle, and after a short period when replacement services between Settle and Skipton were provided by North Yorkshire County Council using its own 16-seater minibuses, Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire, which was by then operating between Kirkby Lonsdale and Settle, extended its service to Skipton, marketing it as "The Craven Connection"
The Ingleton to Lancaster section continued to be operated by Stagecoach, the successors to Ribble Motor Services, as its service 80 and continues to follow the original joint route via Bentham. The Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire services link Lancaster and Skipton in a slightly different way, taking passengers through Kirkby Lonsdale rather than Bentham, but the reintroduction of through buses is very welcome and restores the historic connection.
If you fancy a ride on the new service you will find a link to the timetable here.