Moorsbus: Towards a holistic approach to rural bus services in the North York Moors National Park
In the early 1980s, a subsidized network of buses was introduced which operated throughout the peak tourist period. Since then the Moorsbus network has experienced significant growth and is now recognized as an example of best practice among the numerous schemes which run throughout UK National Parks. The objectives of schemes like Moorsbus are fourfold: (1) to improve social inclusion; (2) to reduce the environmental impact; (3) to maintain links between rural communities; and, (4) to help stimulate the rural economy. Although all four notions are considered, the NYM park authority focus on the first two objectives. This chapter explores a variety of approaches to investigate the effectiveness of Moorsbus which include a series of face-to-face interviews with NYM officers and representatives of North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC). A survey of local businesses was carried out via a postal questionnaire and follow-up telephone interviews. Finally, an ethnographic approach was adopted through participant observation in the NYM. The study raises a number of questions relating to the efficiency and effectiveness of the operation. More generally, it raises questions of the impact of initiatives such as the Moorsbus as a means of encouraging sustainable tourism within National Parks. In conclusion, a framework for assessing the rural bus systems in a more holistic manner is proposed.