BUS OPERATOR First Leeds picked up the judges' special award at last week's Integrated Transport Awards 2002 for Elite, the East Leeds Quality Bus Initiative.
Judges said the guided busway project, which also won the large interchange project award, had shown what could be achieved for a fraction of the cost of an equivalent new light rail scheme.
'We all thought this was a fabulous initiative, ' said former transport minister and chairman of the judges Steven Norris. 'The city council, county, and Highways Agency all working together with the bus operators to transform bus travel in Leeds.'
Elite has halved journey times on the bus route to the north of the city. Ridership is up, as the clean, comfortable and fast buses attract people out of their cars. Adapting buses by modifying the steering mechanism costs less than £2,000 per vehicle.
The Elite project followed the short, yet pioneering guided busway route trial along Scott Hall Road, north Leeds, which was built in 1995. Elite builds on this experience over a much wider network and incorporates more priority junctions.