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Bus campaigners gathered on Saturday night to see off the last 963 bus from Ilkley to Bradford, via Otley, at 10.45pm.

The service has been axed by Metro and it leaves many bus passengers without an evening service.

Sandy MacPherson, who spearheaded a campaign and organised a petition against the loss of the service, was joined by Labour Parliamentary candidates for Ilkley and Otley, John Grogan and Alex Sobel, who have vowed to campaign to restore an evening service between the two towns, and Carl Morris, who is standing for Labour in Otley in the May Council elections.

Mr MacPherson, of Ben Rhydding, said: “This cut in service leaves parts of Ilkley, Ben Rhydding and Burley-in-Wharfedale with no buses after about 6pm. Many people without a car will be left isolated as a result.”

Mr Sobel added: “Together with John Grogan, when the subsidised bus services in our part of Wharfedale are reviewed later this year, I will be arguing strongly for a restoration of evening services between Otley and Ilkley on the route of the 963.”

Metro claims the use of the service was very low, with an average of 36 passengers per evening, resulting in a high subsidy per passenger of £4.67 beyond the level which Metro identifies as value for money for taxpayers.

A Metro spokesman said: “As we have explained previously, our surveys showed that service 963 was used by very few people, which made it impossible for Metro to continue using local council tax-payers’ money to support it. Much of service 963’s route is served by services 33, 33A, 737 and X84 and the savings made from its withdrawal are being used to support the 967 Menston, Otley, Leeds -radford Airport service, which the airport no longer supports.

“Details of the changes have been publicised prominently for some weeks on the Metro website at wymetro.com and in Service Changes leaflets, which are distributed to outlets such as travel centres, rail stations and Tourist Information centres.

“Information has been distributed to the local media as well as through Metro’s @MetroTravelNews Twitter account and on its West Yorkshire Metro Facebook page.”

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