'On Monday morning, the service's first day, people were coming out of Leeds Rail Station and walking straight onto the waiting buses, like the service had always been there,' said Metro Chairman Councillor Karam Hussain. 'Over a thousand people must have used it on the first day alone.
FreeCityBus runs every few minutes from 6:30am to 7:30pm Monday to Saturday, calling at 17 clearly-marked stops including Leeds Rail and Bus Stations, Leeds General Infirmary, the Universities, Park Lane College, and the shopping, business and cultural districts.
Councillor Hussain, Leeds City Councillor Barry Anderson and Vice President of Leeds Chamber Alan Gill were at Leeds Station Interchange on Monday to launch the service.
'Metro has responded to Leeds Initiative and major city centre employers to develop this new service,' said Councillor Hussain at the launch.
'Enabling people to get around the city, quickly, conveniently and for free, will mean fewer cars in the city centre and less congestion, which in turn, will make regular bus services more reliable.
'We will be looking closely at this six-month trial and considering the possibility of introducing similar schemes in other towns and cities in West Yorkshire.'
Councillor Anderson said the launch of FreeCityBus sent out some important signals about Leeds.
'It says Leeds is a city up for bright and imaginative ideas in meeting the challenges of traffic congestion and it tells businesses and investors that this city is not about to let traffic become an obstacle to continuing growth.
'With Supertram behind us, we are working in partnership to plan the future of transport in Leeds and West Yorkshire
Alan Gill Vice said, 'The Leeds business community has identified the two biggest barriers to our continued business success as skills shortages and transport congestion.
'I firmly believe that Metro, the City Council and the Leeds business community work in partnership to fight congestion and FreeCityBus is an excellent first step but we cannot tackle this problem all on our own.
'We need support and investment from central government to put in place measures that will help ease congestion and the related pollution so that the city and its surrounding region continue to thrive.'
Metro has acquired six, brand-new, easy access buses from Yorkshire bus builder Optare for the service, which will be run during the trial period by bus operator First. If the initial six-month trial is successful, it can be extended for a further six months and after that a decision will be taken on whether it becomes permanent and if similar concepts could subsequently be introduced in other towns and cities in West Yorkshire.
The six, 29-seat buses are brightly and clearly marked FreeCityBus, with a logo on the roof so people can also identify them from their office windows.
Metro has produced 70,000 leaflets, containing a map of the circular city centre route, which can also be found on Metro's web site at www.wymetro.com