LeeTran has been named "Outstanding Transit System of the Year" by the Florida Public Transportation Association.
The association praised LeeTran for "demonstrating efficiency and effectiveness for the public transportation industry."
The award is based on the past three years of operations, and considers ridership, fleet maintenance, community involvement, and safety and security among its criteria.
A significant factor in LeeTran's selection is the system's dramatic ridership increases. LeeTran's ridership has increased steadily for 26 consecutive months; for the most recent fiscal year, the jump was 17 percent, for a total of 3.76 million riders.
The statewide recognition highlights the transit agency's commitment to strategic planning.
"We have a 25-year vision plan which shows us what the future of transit in Lee County could be," said Transit Director Steve Myers. "Even though budgets are tight now, we're taking what steps we can to prepare for the future."
Those steps include building a new headquarters facility, expected to break ground in January 2013; taking delivery of 24 new hybrid buses and trolleys in the next five months; identifying locations for park-and-ride lots; and developing an information system for veterans to improve their access to transportation and other vital services. These projects are funded by federal and state grants.
"This is an exciting time for transit in Lee County," Myers said. "The next two years are all about rebuilding our infrastructure and preparing for the future."