The business started in 1987 as Horseless Carriage Services providing a taxi service in the local area and I was a sole trader but this year we have become a limited Company, for 6 years prior to this my wife and I traded as M and J Stewart-Clarke, involved in all aspects of haulage of goods. So far the only advantage of changing from haulage to passengers is that the ‘load’ gets on and off by itself! In 1992 we moved in to buses, or more correctly one bus, providing services in Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park where we live. After 18 months of struggle and near collapse we tendered for some work from North Yorkshire C.C. to provide local bus routes from Grassington to Skipton and several school routes, much to our surprise we won the contracts. Over the years the routes have been expanded and while we were running eight buses, seven midi buses and one eight seater, a new 4 year contract stating 5th of January 2004 saw us able to reduce the buses to 5 but new Optare Solos all low floored and wheel chair accessible.
In 2012 we made the decision to replace engine and gearbox, fit new drivers seat, replace doors, panels and repaint the buses. In the interim we have purchased a 5yr old slim line short Solo to fill the gap while we upgrade the rest. We should completed by the end of 2013. Also in 2012 we updated our ticket machines to full smart ticketing with GPS connections, which hopefully within 2013 we will be able to connect with travel hubs in the Dales to provide real time bus information.
So what does the future hold for us as a business and the services in our beautiful Dales? The answer to that lies mostly with the County Council, the Government and to some degree, YOU the general public.
From the Government we need greater funding for rural services, for tourists or local people, and from the Councils we need continued understanding that cheapest is not always best and small can be efficient, and longer contracts allowing operators, particularly small ones, to invest in better equipment. From transport providers and travel information services we need changes in attitude in working together instead of constant competition, which we are in the process doing by building up links with our fellow operators in the wider area and local services such as Grassington Hub. If profit is the main goal we will never achieve an integrated transport system the public will use willingly.
And from YOU the public we need greater use of public transport and less use of the car. See our website for current timetables, or pick one up at Grassington Hub or on the bus!