A trail-blazing on demand bus service is making changes so travellers can pre-book their trips a day in advance to try and get more people to get on board.

The Yorbus scheme has come under fire because it is expensive, but North Yorkshire County Council has agreed to carry it on for another year.

The service runs between Bedale, Ripon and Masham, giving people the chance to book a place just before their journey. But it has been criticised as being too complicated for a lot of elderly people, many journeys are booked through mobile phones, and there was concern people would not be able to make return journeys.

Now the council has announced travellers will be able to pre-book trips a day in advance, but it will still largely depend on having an app on a mobile phone. Customers will use the app to put in arrival and destination times.

Executive member for highways and transportation, Cllr Keane Duncan, said: “YorBus has proved incredibly popular since its launch in July 2021, with extremely positive feedback from users.

“As part of our decision to extend the pilot service for at least another year, we’ve listened to feedback and we’re very pleased to now be offering advance booking.

“The new facility will increase the service’s reliability, hopefully meaning even more people will use YorBus to get around, particularly over the busy summer season. We will continue to review this demand-responsive service to help us explore rolling out YorBus to other parts of the county.”

The authority says customers can also pre-book though the county council phone number 01609 780780. The service runs from 7am to 6pm on weekdays and 9am to 6pm on Saturdays. From August 1, fares increased from £1.20 to £2 for adults and from 65p to £1 for children between the ages of 5-17.

Earlier this year councillors backed operating the service for another year at a cost of £230,000, although fares for the 12 months had only brought in around £12,800 in fares. Officers said the pilot was being viewed as successful, partly as patronage of the YorBus service had been stronger than forecast.

There were claims that passenger numbers had been set deliberately low with target passenger journeys set at a total of 758 for the first three months and at 885 for the first six months, equating to just 0.9 and 0.5 passenger journeys per operating hour.

For more information on YorBus, click here.