£1.1m boost for rural transport

AN AMBITIOUS project designed to protect and improve public transport across the Yorkshire Dales has received a seven-figure cash boost.

The Dales Integrated Transport Alliance (DITA) has secured a £1.1m grant from the Department for Transport’s local sustainable transport fund.

The group plans to create seven local transport hubs across the Yorkshire Dales, monitored by a central IT scheduling system, to offer an integrated and efficient network.

DITA had recently acquired European funding for the computer work.

Chairman Helen Flynn said: “This just shows what a group of dedicated volunteers is capable of.

“We are all delighted that we have been able to bring vital public investment in rural transport into the larger Yorkshire Dales area, particularly at a time of central and local government cut-backs.”

DITA is a grassroots transport organisation. It was set up in January by existing transport providers, including DalesBus and the Little Red Bus.

Its partners include Metro, North Yorkshire County Council, Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Of the 73 bids submitted across the whole of the country in April, only 34 – one of which was DITA’s – were awarded the full amount they bidded for. It was also the only community-led organisation to gain funding.

The announcment of the funding has been welcomed by Ripon MP Julian Smith.

He said: “I am delighted that the Transport Secretary has listened to the strong case put forward in the DITA bid document.

“For the past year I have been arguing for a much stronger focus on the transport needs for our rural area and I am pleased that the Government has acknowledged this through the funding commitment.”

“The work of everyone involved with the Dales Integrated Transport Alliance has been excellent and I have congratulated them on a first-class bid that has unlocked much potential for community transport in and around Ripon.”

The MP has now written to Metro, the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority which will administer the money for the bid, to encourage them to release money to the project as quickly as possible

He said: “I have had letters and meetings with many people in recent months who are frustrated by the lack of access to public transport where they live to get them to work, school or college.

“I hope this investment helps to reduce some of these problems and starts to reconnect our rural communities.”

• To find out more about DITA, go to

www.dalesconnect.net