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Local Economy


Rural transport and social inclusion: The DalesBus Initiative

Joyce Liddle, Gerard McElwee and John Disney
Local Economy 2012 27: 3
DOI: 10.1177/0269094211424254

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Local Economy
Rural transport and social 27(1) 3–18
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inclusion: The DalesBus Reprints and permissions:


Initiative DOI: 10.1177/0269094211424254


Joyce Liddle
Nottingham Business School, UK

Gerard McElwee
Nottingham Business School, UK

John Disney
Nottingham Business School, UK

The importance of rural transport in addressing social exclusion has been acknowledged for some
time. We report and comment on one particular case in North Yorkshire, a predominantly rural
county in England, of how state, non-state and third/societal sectors worked together to market
and improve public transport links and reduce social exclusion. The article examines the outcomes
of a SIS (Stimulating Innovation for Success) project: a leisure-based public transport network
located in North Yorkshire. It comments on the efficacy of this relationship and in particular
with one agency, the Dales and Bowland Community Interest Company.

partnerships, rural transport, rurality, social exclusion, stakeholder, third sector/societal sectors

Introduction charities and small community groups tap

into the business, financial, and fundraising
Services to help people with multiple needs expertise they need . . . Community Interest
and exclusions exist but only in limited geo- Companies are a new, innovative and suc-
graphical areas. How can the provision of cessful business model which should be
services expand to help those most in need? promoted more strongly as a means of
(Rt Hon Hilary Armstrong, former UK making community activity self-financing
Minister for Social Exclusion, Armstrong, and sustainable . . . Social enterprises often
2010: 25)
Corresponding author:
Gerard McElwee, Nottingham Business School,
Volunteering should be promoted by Nottingham Trent University, Burton Street, Nottingham
the Government as an end in itself . . . NG1 4BU, UK.
Government should broker ways to help Email: gerard.mcelwee@ntu.ac.uk

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4 Local Economy 27(1)

manage to succeed in areas where both New Labour’s ‘re-fashioned ideology of

public and private business models continue social democracy’ (Whitehead, 2007: 6) and
to fail. (Rt Hon David Blunkett, 2009) sustained interest in the sector as a partner in
governance (Chapman et al., 2008). This
These two quotations, emanating from theme was given greater impetus when,
prominent UK Labour politicians, exem- shortly after achieving power the then
plify the significance of volunteering and Labour Government took the unprece-
third-sector activity to deliver what were tra- dented step of announcing a compact
ditionally ‘publicly provided’ services, as between government and the third sector
well as enhance services for socially excluded (Smith, 2010: 48–65). It represented the
individuals and groups with multiple needs. first attempt to mainstream the third sector
The Blunkett statement confirms the impor- into the Government’s public policy agenda
tance of Community Interest Companies (Kendall, 2000). Although as Diamond
(CICs) as vehicles for creating sustainable (2010) suggests, the UK Government’s expli-
and self-financing community development cit promotion of the third sector, to encapsu-
initiatives. The 2010 UK Coalition late a host of community sector organizations,
Government has embraced this concept revealed a narrow and poorly developed
with its ‘Big Society’ proposals. understanding of the sector; nevertheless for
The importance of rural transport in social democrats, argues Diamond, social
addressing social exclusion has been democracy remains high up the political
acknowledged for some time. The aim of agenda as a means of addressing some of the
the article is to report and comment on one social exclusion and poverty issues. Clearly,
particular case in North Yorkshire, a pre- social democracy is not a shared aspiration
dominantly rural county in England, of of all.
how state, non-state and third/societal sec- However, there are numerous barriers to
tors work together to market and improve overcome in bringing socially excluded indi-
public transport links and reduce social viduals/groups and voluntary/community/
exclusion. The article comments on the effi- third sector organizations into delivering
cacy of this relationship and on one agency public services (Mayo and Taylor, 2001;
in particular, the Dales and Bowland Taylor, 2000).
Community Interest Company (DBCIC). Putting the community at the heart of
policy is central to the new Coalition
Theoretical basis Government’s replacement of the Office of
Third Sector (OTS) with the Office of Civil
Theoretically and conceptually the article is Society (OCS) and reflected in Ministerial
set within a context of the broader political statements and guidance notes, under the
agenda to address social exclusion in umbrella of the Big Society. The ideas under-
deprived areas. It is underpinned by partner- pinning the Big Society are yet to be fully
ship and stakeholder theory and illustrates fleshed out, but in essence it aims to promote
how state and non-state actors and agencies community involvement in decision making,
worked in collaboration to market and and to foster community/social enterprise. It
improve public transport links. may be suggested that not only are these
aims unrealistic but that the Big Society
Third sector and partnerships is a romanticized version of old neo-liberal
aversion to the state and is a foil for shroud-
The adoption of partnership working and ing the unpopularity of public spending cuts
involvement of the third sector was part of articulated in the public demonstrations of

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Liddle et al. 5

2011. An IPPR Report (Cox and In different national contexts, the key
Schmueker, 2010) is one of the first, and non-governmental agents of civil society
important, contributions to the debate on are variously referred to as non-profit
what exactly the Big Society means. sector, voluntary and community sector or
The Compact, which outlines how the third sector economy.
voluntary and public sectors should behave Over the past 10 years an extensive body
towards each other, was established in 1998 of research has developed concerned with
and updated in 2009. The Coalition changing relationships between the state
Government and Compact Voice, which and non-governmental agencies in the UK,
represents the voluntary sector on Compact Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe
issues, recently renewed the agreement. The (Osborne et al., 2008). The creation of a
new version was published in November wide body of theory has further enhanced
2010 and contains 37 key principles. our understanding of the importance of
non-governmental agencies delivering public
Social enterprise services (Chew and Osborne, 2009).

Somerville and McElwee (2011) note that New Public Governance

social enterprise is a comparatively recent
term in public policy literature. References New Public Governance (NPG), with its
to the third sector, community enterprises emphasis on a pluralist state and multiple
and worker cooperatives are championed processes informing the policy-making
by the European Union as a means to system, and a plural state, where multiple
tackle some of the challenges of globaliza- interdependent actors contribute to public
tion such as rising unemployment, poverty service delivery, evolved from earlier con-
and social exclusion (Mawson, 2010). In cepts of traditional public administration
1989 a Social Economy Unit was established (PA) and the transitory stage of New
at European level to foster all types of com- Public Management (NPM) (Osborne,
munity and social enterprises that might 2009). Service delivery and policy making
respond to unmet social needs, often were radically re-interpreted with the shift
through collaborative community activity from ‘top-down’ policy processes as negoti-
(Molloy et al., 1999). ation, it was argued, became essential
The current economic downturn has between a variety of stakeholders. For effec-
brought into sharp focus the imperative for tive delivery, services should no longer
sustainable communities; as Kagan (2007) rest solely with managers; rather the aim
suggests, the quest has been dominated by is to move towards co-production with
the establishment of inter-organizational users and communities (Bovaird, 2007). To
and inter-agency partnerships, which offer overcome fragmentation of public service
new organizational forms, possibilities and organizations, co-production should act as
challenges. Across the public, private and a useful integrative mechanism for service
third sectors a reduction in public expendi- planning, commissioning, management,
ture, constrained private investment and a delivery, monitoring and evaluation. As
general slowdown in activity will critically part of overall service provision, commis-
impact on localities (Liddle, 2009). All sioning is an important ingredient that also
governments desperately seek answers to requires trusting relationships between
the problems of the economic downturn, actors who self-organize and negotiate new
financial constraints and potential social rules, norms and institutional frameworks.
disintegration (Liddle, 2010). Therefore, existing, outdated conceptions

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6 Local Economy 27(1)

of service planning and delivery are no communities. The ‘third sector’ was defined
longer appropriate to modern day service as encompassing all non-governmental agen-
provision, but what is needed is a new cies/bodies that principally reinvest surpluses
public service ethos of the Compact in in the communities or organizations and seek
which public sector professionals support, to deliver social or environmental benefits
encourage and coordinate the co-productive (CLG, 2007). This commitment to greater
capacities of service users and communities engagement of the third sector is based on
(Bovaird, 2007). the need to give voice to a wider range of
The need for a Compact between the stakeholders/agencies and partners in design-
Government and the third sector was first ing, delivering and measuring services, but
developed in the UK but has also been used also to widen the choice of providers of
as a model in several Eastern European services.
countries as well as Canada and Australia
(Lyons, 2002). In Canada Compacts began Stakeholders
to take shape from the mid-1990s onwards
(Lyons, 2002) as a means for promoting the Stakeholders can be defined as ‘any group or
concept of third sector within government individual who can affect or is affected by the
departments, including a place in policy achievement of the organization’s objectives’
making, capacity building and proposals for (Freeman, 1984: 46). Thus, stakeholders are
output-based performance measurement. In agents or classes of agents, such as employ-
Australia, some attempt was made at a state ees, managers, suppliers, funders, owners
level and by individual government depart- and consumers (service users in the public
ments to improve engagement with the third organization’s domain), who have a stake
sector. However, despite the existence of sev- in the organization’s objectives and without
eral of the preconditions for involvement, whose support the organization would cease
there was not a coordinated government to exist (Freeman, 1984). Stakeholders
approach nor a coordinated third sector can also be classified as: primary—those
response and the potential for developing that have formal, official and contractual
and growing a similar relationship with the relationships with the organization; and
third sector looked unlikely (Lyons, 2002). secondary—those not directly related to the
Both Canada and England had entered into organization, but, nonetheless able to exert
national bilateral voluntary sector-govern- some sort of influence upon the organization
ment policy agreements. The Canadian or even be influenced by it.
Accord, like the UK Compact, is a framework As examples of stakeholders, Freeman
agreement which outlines a shared vision, (1984) suggests customers, employees, share-
values, general principles and a mutual com- holders, stockholders, government, local
mitment to building a positive future relation- community, suppliers, partners and competi-
ship toward common purposes. tors. As stakeholders of public organizations,
The UK Government had established the Bryson (1995) proposes the following list:
Office for the Third Sector, based in the citizens; taxpayers; service users; the different
Cabinet Office in 2006,1 to lead work across tiers of government; employees; trade unions;
government to support the environment for a interest groups; political parties; the financial
thriving third sector (voluntary and commu- community; the business community; and
nity groups, social enterprises, charities, coop- other entities and spheres of influence in
eratives and mutuals), enabling the sector to government. Some authors (Bryson, 1995;
campaign for change, deliver public services, Hood, 1995) advocate the inclusion of stake-
promote social enterprise and strengthen holders’ expectations in the performance

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Liddle et al. 7

evaluation of public organizations. In this Accessibility

sense, satisfying stakeholders should be the
target of successful public managers, who Accessibility is a mainstream policy goal in
therefore need to know exactly who their the UK Government’s aims of achieving
stakeholders are and what they expect from greater social justice and social inclusion.
the organization in terms of performance and Access can be conceptualized as ‘absolute’,
outcomes (Bryson, 1995). i.e. limited access in one particular rural
As we will see stakeholder groups were location, or in relative terms, i.e. limited rel-
very significant to the success of DBCIC. ative to other regions. However ‘access’ is
We now define our key terms: social defined, ‘it must be connected to individual
exclusion, access and rural transport. needs, rights, wants and deserts’ Farrington
and Farrington (2005: 10). Clearly, access
Social exclusion and transport is on the policy agenda as all English
Local Transport Plans address the issues of
Two key policy documents relating to trans- socially excluded groups, promoting access
port and social exclusion have framed the and improving environments. Lancashire
debate on transport and social exclusion County Council (2010), for example, has a
(Titheridge, 2008). The DETR/TRac (2000) clearly defined policy. Other authorities,
and Social Exclusion Unit (2003) policies such as London Transport’s Capital have
address the role of transport in reducing linked transport and social exclusion, devel-
social exclusion, and the existence and acces- oped indicators of access to activities and
sibility of services. Social exclusion is great- services, and identified the need to combat
est amongst unemployed and elderly people social constraints placed on individuals
but other groups are excluded from social (Church et al., 2000).
and leisure activities (Scottish Executive Voluntary organizations such as the UK
Central Research Unit, 2009). Transport National Cycle Network (SUSTRANS)
deprivation, i.e. lack of access to affordable contribute to societal welfare through such
and timely transport, according to Mackey initiatives as health improvements, social
et al. (2004) and supported by Shucksmith inclusion, regenerating economies and pro-
(2000) is a perennial issue in rural areas, viding an alternative to environmentally
with many people having no access to any damaging transport. It also enhances eco-
mode of transport. nomic opportunities for recreation, leisure
This phenomenon is evidenced across the and education (Cope and Lumsdon, 2003).
UK. For example, Northern Ireland’s Rural
Transport Initiative is tackling social exclu- Rural transport
sion in rural areas (Transport 21, 2006) and
the Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Rural transport priorities are heavily skewed
Network examined access to transport for towards the provision of school transport
women in rural areas in Northern Ireland as this is a statutory duty given the dis-
(NIRWN, 2008). Coleman et al. (2003) find tances involved between home and school.
that the take up of education in Further Journeys to work and to access health and
Education (FE) Colleges is hampered by a shopping facilities (often only on one day per
lack of information on transport facilities week, market day in the nearest market
and long journey times; FE students in town) are the next but much lower priorities,
Wensleydale, North Yorkshire face a daily with voluntary car schemes often being used
four-hour round trip by bus to their nearest for journeys to hospital outpatient appoint-
college. ments, leaving transport to access leisure

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8 Local Economy 27(1)

facilities (including access to the countryside students and members of the socially
from adjacent urban areas and the ability for deprived and ethnic minority populations
rural residents to access employment in the of the Leeds City Region and Bradford
associated leisure and tourism industry) as Metropolitan areas. The objective was to
the lowest priority. establish an efficient cost-effective marketing
Local authority boundaries between rural strategy for DBCIC using suitable media
and urban areas often mean that neither and to expand the customer base. It is also
authority takes responsible for such cross- intended that the marketing strategy takes
boundary services; in the past many advantage of the voluntary assistance avail-
National Park Authorities had a limited able to distribute publicity by hand to local
budget to support such services but budget shops, libraries, information centres, tourist
cuts of 25 percent have led to such support attractions, accommodation providers, pubs,
ceasing in most cases. The necessary place- cafes and churches.
ment journeys associated with these services The SIS Project devised and supported
often provided journey to work opportuni- the operation of new Summer Wednesday
ties for rural residents. direct ‘Dales Experience’ buses from
Leisure trips in England constitute 40 per- Bradford to the Dales, tailored to attract
cent of all distances travelled and constitute low income families and ethnic minorities
30 percent of total trips whilst walking for to experience the countryside around them.
leisure is the main activity undertaken on 36 The project coordinated events at destina-
percent of day trips to the English country- tions run by the Yorkshire Dales National
side and 18 percent of the 3.6bn day trips Park Authority and National Trust together
made in England each year (Natural with volunteer-led guided walks and some
England, 2006). The benefits to the rural events resourced using members of the SIS
economy generated by users of these services Project and their families.
are greater than the costs due to local multi-
pliers and the effects on health, reduction in Method
emissions and congestion (Guiver, 1993).
Research undertaken by the University of As part of the SIS Project, primary data were
Central Lancashire for the DBCIC in 2010 collected from users by means of 20 semi-
showed that the average expenditure by a structured interviews conducted on the
visitor to the countryside by bus was return journey of Dales Experience buses
13.30. With the average DalesBus subsidy to Bradford and with conversations with
of 2.46 per journey in 2010, this gives stakeholders. These interviews enabled par-
a BCR (benefit to cost ratio) for a return ticipants to reflect upon the activities under-
journey to the Dales of 2.6. taken during the day and demonstrated the
In recognition of the importance of mar- importance of organized events to infrequent
keting a growing network of services, visitors to the countryside; some adult partic-
DBCIC bid for a SIS Project in early 2009 ipants had never visited the Dales despite
in conjunction with Nottingham Business being born and living their entire life less
School. SIS is an academic enterprise pro- than 30 miles away.
gramme supporting the exploitation and Views were collected from one member of
development of new ideas, funded by the each family or friendship group and the
UK Higher Education Innovation Fund. number in each group together with their
The SIS Project markets the DalesBus ages and ethnic background noted. The
network to increase patronage and to attract research examined barriers to visiting the
new customers, especially younger people, Dales and the importance of providing

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Liddle et al. 9

short guided walks and nature observation and, whilst this is atypical, many rural bus
events; one third of interviewees had access services require subsidies approaching 10
to a car but had never considered using it to per passenger journey. Local authorities
visit the Dales, whilst few interviewees had across the UK are faced with making critical
realized that rural bus services existed and choices about how rural travel is resourced
were affordable. and financed.
The primary data were discussed by This scenario prevailed in the Yorkshire
stakeholders at the end of the season and Dales (see Figure 1 for map of the area) for
taken into account in planning an expanded many years, with reductions in the budgets
programme in 2010, leading to several of 60 of North Yorkshire County Council
recommendations to DBCIC contained in (NYCC) and Yorkshire Dales National
the marketing strategy. All of the stake- Park Authority (YDNPA) leading to the
holders agreed the recommendations based loss of many Sunday bus services which
on results derived from the primary data. A brought visitors and their spending power
SWOT analysis of the results was compiled. to the Dales from the West Yorkshire
The CIC accepted and implemented more conurbation.
than half of these recommendations in 2010; In 2008 funding from YDNPA threat-
a few recommendations were rejected due to ened to dry up completely and the NYCC
philanthropic ideals whilst others were budget was only sufficient to provide a skel-
deferred due to practicality and voluntary etal service which few passengers would find
time constraints. attractive. At this point the DBCIC secured
a unique rescue bid which has rejuvenated
The Dales and Bowland the DalesBus network, growing passenger
Community Interest Company numbers by 54 percent in 2009 with further
31 percent growth in 2010, reducing passen-
An appraisal ger subsidy from 6 in 2006 when the
services were public sector managed to just
In view of the economic downturn and 2.46 in 2010–11 and introducing new ser-
unprecedented large budget reductions vices and initiatives within existing budgets.
imposed by the Coalition Government, DBCIC has achieved this by using knowl-
many transport authorities are faced with a edgeable and enthusiastic professional vol-
dilemma as they try to maintain vital but unteers to manage the network, and by
lightly used rural bus services within dimin- drawing upon funding from a variety of
ishing budgets. Once essential journeys for partners and sources.
access to educational, health, employment DBCIC is a not-for-profit organization
and shopping facilities have been provided, owned by the Yorkshire Dales Society, a reg-
there is likely to be little funding remaining istered charity, and established in 2007 in
for weekend leisure journeys. Reducing the conjunction with the Yorkshire Dales
journeys operated increases the propor- Public Transport Users Group to restore
tionate fixed costs per trip (for both operator the Ilkley to Skipton Sunday bus service,
and authority) and makes the operation less now branded as CravenLink and a well-
attractive and economic for many potential established all year round Sunday bus ser-
operators. Reduced tender bids are received, vice used by local residents and visitors
accompanied by reduced service quality and with bus and train connections at Ilkley
increased subsidy levels per passenger; the and Skipton to Leeds and Bradford.
Cairngorms Heather Hopper services in Directors of the DBCIC include transport
2009 required 78 subsidy per passenger professionals, academics and a former

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10 Local Economy 27(1)

Figure 1. The Yorkshire Dales.

Confederation of Passenger Transport take advantage of the risk-taking features of

(CPT) President (Disney and Speakman, a company such as accessing the debt market
2009), whilst volunteers from the Users for loans and bonds or by selling additional
Group distribute publicity and lead guided shares (if limited by shares).
walks for bus users. A CIC can be readily set up because the
A CIC is a limited liability company with UK Registrar provides model memorandum
the specific aim of providing benefit to a and articles of association, which include an
community, combining the pursuit of a asset lock. The asset lock prevents the CIC
social purpose with commercial activities. from giving away its assets for less than the
It is incorporated under the Companies Act true market value, except where the assets
1985 by the Registrar of Companies and are transferred to another asset locked
conforms to the same company and insol- body such as a charity or another CIC, or
vency laws as any other UK company. used to benefit the community which it was
CICs can be companies limited by guarantee set up to serve. The asset lock provides legal
or limited by shares. A CIC limited by guar- protection against demutualization and
antee is a not-for-profit company. CICs can windfall profits being paid to members and

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Liddle et al. 11

directors (Regulator of Community Interest transport. Passenger numbers grew by 106

Companies, 2009). percent from 2008 to 2011 and the services
2000 CICs now exist, representing a huge expanded geographically and in terms of fre-
growth since their inception in 2005. quency of operation. The SIS Project identi-
Although only 1 percent of these are specifi- fied the variety of stakeholders (see Table 1),
cally transport related, many others encom- the strengths and weaknesses in the DBCIC
pass transport within their remit. and highlighted the many opportunities and
DBCIC contracts out services to commer- challenges facing the company. Its status as a
cial bus operators ranging from AS Coaches, CIC means that it undertakes tasks which a
an example of a diversified farm business, to commercial operator would never consider,
multinational Arriva, rather than owning such as providing publicity for other opera-
and operating its own buses. New funding tors’ connecting or feeder services sometimes
was secured from diverse bodies including without any recompense or reciprocal
Metro Nidderdale AONB; train operator arrangement, although a growing relation-
Northern; Natural England; Friends of the ship with TransDev in Harrogate has led to
Settle-Carlisle Line (FoSCL) and some visi- TransDev producing high quality joint pub-
tor attractions, in addition to continued licity which the Users Group distributed
funding from NYCC and YDNPA. door-to-door to households in addition to
DBCIC is keen to address social inclusion the usual outlets.
with services and promotions targeted at res-
idents of socially deprived areas and students Results and recommendations
and other young people. Metrocard com-
muter season tickets are valid on DalesBus The key issues seen as important recommen-
services from West Yorkshire, giving com- dations are as follows:
muters the opportunity to experience the
countryside at weekends without needing . to introduce a sub-branding for DBCIC
to own a car. Most fares for 2010 and 2011 services under the generic ‘DalesBus’
were pegged at or below 2008 levels despite branding;
the low reimbursement rate for concession- . to tighten up DBCIC’s contracts with
ary fares which has not been compensated by suppliers;
increased loadings due to capacity con- . to concentrate and improve service
straints on some routes and unprecedented deficiencies;
increases in fuel costs. . to refocus the marketing strategy.
In 2008–9 DBCIC carried over 13,000
passengers with a budget of 80 k. In 2009– In an attempt to distinguish DBCIC ser-
10 it grew this to over 20,000 passengers with vices from others, a recommendation of the
a similar budget and in 2010–11 it exceeded SIS Project to DBCIC was to introduce a
26,000 passengers with new services from sub-branding for DBCIC services under the
York increasing its catchment area. It also generic ‘DalesBus’ branding which is used
provides essential journeys to work for Dales for all bus services in the Dales, together
residents in the tourism and healthcare sec- with a distinctive alphanumerical route num-
tors often on what are essentially placement bering system for DBCIC controlled services.
journeys from and to the operating base at However, this was rejected by DBCIC
the start and end of the operating day. Directors on the philanthropic grounds that
Data confirm that DBCIC has turned they wished to promote all public transport in
around the fortunes of DalesBus and it is the Dales, irrespective of the provider. Whilst
now setting a new standard for rural public this is a commendable stance, it makes little

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12 Local Economy 27(1)

Table 1. Stakeholders.

Stakeholders of the Dalesbus funding Stakeholders Dalesbus Operational

Existing Potential Existing Potential

Natural England Religious Campaign Protection Individual

charities of Rural England

Individual passengers National Natural England Aggregate

Lottery Sustainability
Campaign Protection Esme N Yorks Esme
of Rural England Fairburn Concessionary Fairburn
Foundation Foundation
North Yorks County Council Aggregate YDPTUG National
Sustainability Lottery
Northern National Trust Religious
National Trust Metro
YDU North Yorks County Council
BSOG Northern
Visitor BSOG
YDPTUG Visitor
Nidderdale ANOB YDNPA

business sense, especially if some non-DBCIC This is to be expected on Sunday bus ser-
services fall short of expectations. vices principally targeted at leisure users but
Although the DBCIC wishes to ensure that discretionary expenditure is particularly at
its services are reliable and provide high levels risk in an economic recession. Furthermore,
of customer service, its contractors sometimes if DBCIC services fail to meet the expecta-
fail to deliver. DBCIC initially appeared to tions of users, these customers may decide to
underestimate the damage to customer per- spend their leisure money elsewhere as wit-
ceptions that these failures can cause. This is nessed during the foot and mouth epidemic
often because the Directors are strong advo- of 2001, which curtailed access to the coun-
cates for public transport and committed tryside and incurred huge losses for the pro-
users, who over the years have witnessed viders of many rural bus services.
many examples of poor customer service, The SIS Project advised DBCIC to tighten
and are thus resilient to service failure. up its contracts with suppliers to ensure that
However, less than 50 percent of journeys there were financial sanctions available for
made on DBCIC services could be described non-compliance. It is recognized that even
as essential; on some services essential users the best suppliers will be less vigilant if they
would comprise less than 10 percent of pas- are under the impression that their customer
sengers carried. will accept substandard service.

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Liddle et al. 13

If there are service deficiencies for which car and choose to travel by train on the
the DBCIC receives financial compensation grounds of journey time and comfort.
from suppliers, it should utilize this to fund a Connecting buses therefore need to be as
compensation scheme for its customers fast and direct as possible with smooth inter-
affected by the failure and also affected by change and easily understood timetables.
problems outside the operators’ control such This will also increase the likelihood of
as traffic congestion causing connections to such connections being picked up by online
be missed. The CIC is now becoming much journey planners which are increasingly used
more aware of the need for service quality by rail passengers.
excellence and is working with suppliers DBCIC has a unique opportunity which
and stakeholders to raise standards. Northern offers them for integrated bus/
The marketing strategy which the SIS train services. Northern’s franchise is now
Project produced for the DBCIC emphasizes mid-term and it has experienced 8 percent
the importance of promoting attractions and annual passenger growth against a forecast
destinations, rather than the actual bus nil growth when the franchise was let
journey. Furthermore, Northern is owned by Serco
A Sunday bus/train interchange has been and Abelio, neither of whom has any bus
established at Ribblehead on the Settle- interests in Northern England, unlike other
Carlisle railway line (S&C) with connecting operators. This makes them more willing to
buses supported by Northern, the train oper- cooperate with DBCIC and small operators
ator, and the Friends of the Settle Carlisle and to take heed of the CIC’s expertise on
Line (FoSCL) and promoted as a branch bus services rather than drawing upon inter-
line extension to the S&C through leaflets nal expertise transferred from elsewhere
and posters produced by the train operator in the UK. The challenge facing DBCIC is
and DBCIC. FoSCL arranged volunteer ensuring that bus/train interchanges become
marshals to ensure a smooth interchange so well established that the new franchisee (in
and guided walks to encourage patronage. 2013) continues to support them, although it
This enabled journey times from Leeds/ is highly unlikely that they will feature in the
Bradford to the remoter northern dales of franchise specification.
Swaledale and Wensleydale to be compara-
ble with or better than a private car journey. Opportunities and threats facing DBCIC
Branded as the Northern Dalesman, the
interchange experienced strong growth The Managing Director of DBCIC has
during the initial 2009 season with loads received expressions of interest from other
exceeding 75 percent capacity regularly car- rural areas, especially National Parks and
ried in September and October and was AONBs (Areas of Outstanding Natural
repeated in 2010 and 2011 with support Beauty), to replicate the DBCIC model if
from Northern and FoSCL with faster jour- there was sufficient voluntary expertise avail-
neys in response to customer feedback. able. In many cases, rural bus networks
DBCIC is seeking to strengthen the rela- especially at weekends are similarly not pro-
tionship between bus and rail users and their moted because there is no budget for this
groups as ultimately they share similar activity, depriving them of valuable income
ideals, although they are in commercial com- from leisure users: a perpetual cycle of
petition with each other. There is also a rec- declining services and passengers ensues.
ognition that rail passengers have different However, despite its success, the SIS
perceptions and expectations to bus passen- Project had identified a number of threats
gers and are more likely to have access to a and challenges to the DBCIC.

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14 Local Economy 27(1)

Funding from public sector bodies is administer and granting all concessionaries
under threat and the new Local Sustainable half-fare rail travel without the need to pur-
Transport Fund may not be set up in time to chase an annual railcard would make bus/rail
retain services through summer 2011 with- interchange more attractive to older persons.
out a gap in provision. Previous experience The reduction in Bus Service Operators
shows that such gaps lead to a loss in patron- Grant in April 2012 will have a greater
age with a substantial marketing effort effect on rural bus operations than on
subsequently needed to restore customer their urban counterparts, as fuel is a much
numbers, let alone maintain growth. greater proportion of total operating costs in
However, the new passengers attracted by rural areas, up to 25 percent as opposed to
services such as ‘Dales Experience’ enable 15 percent in urban areas. Small rural bus
DBCIC to demonstrate that they are indeed operators face higher fuel costs as they are
tackling social exclusion; public bodies are unable to negotiate discounts and fixed
more inclined to support a bus service used price deals with fuel suppliers enjoyed by
by 300 people once a year as opposed to 30 the larger groups in urban areas.
people 10 times a year as the reach of such The Disability Discrimination Act
services is calculated to be 10 times greater. (DDA) requires all service buses to be fully
Although the DfT repeatedly claims that accessible to wheelchair users by 2015.
operators should be ‘no better, no worse’ for Whilst this accessibility can be achieved by
participating in the mandatory English use of a lift on a step-entrance vehicle, most
National Concessionary Fares scheme, it is UK operators will have switched to low floor
apparent that the DBCIC has lost vital fares buses by 2015. These vehicles are, however,
revenue although it has benefited from unsuitable for some roads in the Dales due to
increased passenger numbers. Furthermore, adverse cambers so the DBCIC may need to
capacity is finite and it is often impossible to be prepared to either amend some routes or
use a larger vehicle due to the road infrastruc- accept that there will be few operators and
ture whilst staff are not available on standby buses available to operate some existing
to operate duplicate buses as required. routes with obvious cost implications. The
DBCIC is not alone in suffering such CIC has also already discovered that low
losses, especially on long distance routes floor buses are also less robust in inclement
but it has been understandably reticent to weather conditions than their predecessors;
voice its concerns, being so dependent in particular they have lower clearance in
upon public funding. floods and snow, resulting in cancellations
Changes are being made to the current in winter.
Concessionary Fares scheme post General The EU Driving Hours Regulations have
Election as the 1bn cost is higher than been a problem for DBCIC since 2007 due to
first envisaged and growing. A rise in the the intransigence of certain operators. At
age of eligibility to 65 has already been present, splitting longer routes into shorter
announced and routes deemed to be purely linked routes seems to be acceptable under
for the benefit of tourists have been excluded. UK Domestic Regulations which do not
Accordingly DBCIC must not be dependent require the use of tachographs and permit
upon concessionary passengers to fill buses longer driving hours and shorter breaks.
and is recommended to support any pro- However, with the EU Working Time
posals for a half-fare UK-wide all-modes Directive and increased demands for safety
scheme with a flat-rate incentive per passen- improvements and better working condi-
ger to supplement the half fare revenue gen- tions, this derogation may not continue ad
erated. This would be much simpler to infinitum and DBCIC should be encouraging

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Liddle et al. 15

its suppliers to be prepared for the imposition making them feel that their voluntary efforts
of EU Driving Hours Regulations on all local are not appreciated.
bus services. In order to improve the quality of printed
materials, grants and partnerships have been
Conclusion sought to produce good marketing materials.
The Users Group website www.dalesbus.org
This article has commented on how a com- is now recognized by partner organizations
bination of public private and third sector as a valuable resource with full timetables
organizations have cooperated to ensure and information on attractions, guided
the ongoing success of the Dales and walks and events. Unfortunately the national
Bowland Community Interest Company. In public transport journey planners which this
its first three years DBCIC overcame numer- site links to often ignore the existence of
ous funding and operational challenges and DalesBus services as it is a low priority for
is now evolving as a blueprint for other the local authority to upload information on
National Parks and AONBs. seasonal services and, to ensure data integ-
Rural public transport is a major chal- rity, operators are not allowed to upload
lenge to most local authorities and planners their own information. Given the growing
faced with increased operating costs and a dependence of younger people on web-
declining ageing market for such services. based information, this is a serious deficiency
Most authorities have priorities for the pro- which needs rectification.
vision of rural public transport with access to The DBCIC has shown what can be
education, work, health and shopping facil- achieved by volunteers with a modest
ities predominant requirements. Shared cars amount of funding. None of the services
and taxis, demand-responsive minibuses and operated are commercially viable at present
volunteer-driven cars often provide the solu- and with the reimbursement rates for conces-
tion rather than conventional tendered bus sionary fares and the capacity constraints
services. The weekday bus service between noted above, they are unlikely to be commer-
Garsdale Station and Hawes is now operated cially viable unless operation could be linked
morning and early evening by the Upper with other commercial activities. Possibilities
Wensleydale Community Partnership using include marketing services to overseas visi-
voluntary drivers with the minibus being tors based in York with commentaries and
used to ferry patients to hospital appoint- inclusive packages including entrance to
ments during the day. These services are usu- attractions and refreshments.
ally offered at best Monday to Saturday but Realistically, however, the majority of
in practice many services are only Monday services will always be dependent upon
to Friday school terms with a skeleton public funding. With tighter public sector
Monday to Friday service in school holidays budgets this is a major challenge but the suc-
and on Saturdays for shopping purposes. cess of the services in terms of the passengers
Findings from the SIS project show that carried with modest subsidy and community
much time and effort is currently expended involvement contributed to make a strong
on a voluntary basis by a small number of case for funding through the new Local
individuals with minimal prioritization of Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) to
effort to concentrate upon those activities ensure access to the Dales is not to become
which are likely to yield the most revenue elitist and carbon footprint generating.
and patronage. The first challenge is to ratio- However, LSTF bids were only accepted
nalize and prioritize these efforts without from local transport authorities so the
upsetting the individuals involved or DBCIC and its partner organizations

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16 Local Economy 27(1)

formed the Dales Integrated Transport dependent upon a large pool of volunteers
Alliance (DITA) to work with Metro as the comprising recently retired people. Such
lead authority for the bid. The bid was people are likely to become more difficult
approved in June 2011 releasing over 1 m to recruit whilst the existing volunteers will
of funding over the coming four years. grow older and retire naturally.
However, this funding is only accessible to It is accordingly recommended that third
DBCIC through a third party (Metro) with sector organizations spend at least 10 per-
the possibility that administration costs cent of their turnover on salaried, contracted
could absorb a sizeable proportion of the personnel in order to ensure continuity and
money available. stability and in order to convince funders,
The granting of this funding may preclude especially in the public sector, that they can
DBCIC from obtaining other funding, transfer vital services to the third sector.
whilst some funders may now feel that they Social enterprises will have to realize that
have supported the CIC for long enough and with funding comes responsibility. However
divert their support to other worthwhile in the case of DBCIC this would enable them
causes. If DITA is to be incorporated itself to offer a better focused service for the local
as either a CIC or IPS (industrial and prov- communities at less cost that the current local
ident society) this will lead to more volunteer authority managed provision.
time being diverted into administration
rather than delivering the services required.
It is recommended that future DfT schemes Acknowledgement
allow bids directly from third sector organi- The authors acknowledge the financial support of
zations with suitable screening to ensure the SIS project at Nottingham Business School in
their integrity and financial soundness. the writing of this article.
The CIC model is recommended to other
National Parks and AONBs for adoption as
it is clear that putting the management of
leisure services into the hands of competent 1. As previously mentioned, OTS was replaced by
OCS in May 2010, as the Coalition Government
users through a CIC leads to a better focused
introduced the ‘Big Society’.
network of services provided at a lower cost
per passenger carried.
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