Students from Durham University rowing club warmed up for the new season by taking a 10-tonne bus for a ride.
And a team led by 19-year-old female law student Yannic Fletcher beat off competition from some of the burly male rowers by winning an impromptu competition to pull the bus by rope for 20 metres in the quickest time.
Yannic's team managed to pull the full-sized bus 20 metres in 17.8 seconds at Durham University's newest campus, Josephine Butler College.
They beat the opposition, led by university first year captain Calum Irvine, whose team took 19.6 seconds. University rowing coach Clare Leake said: "Both teams did well to pull a bus for 20 metres." And Yannic added: "We are taking part in a university rowing competition at Nottingham next week so this was useful training."
The contest helped launch of Go North-East's Prince Bishop service between Durham and Sunderland, which is due to hit the road next Monday.
Go North-East commercial director Martin Harris said: "The buses are painted a vivid purple with flashes of the historic `palatinate' purple, the livery of the Prince Bishops' armies and these days the colours of Durham University.
"The buses will run a faster service between Durham and Sunderland and be easy for our passengers to identify because of the distinctive colours."