In 2006 a group of people got together in a pub in Brighton to discuss public transport and decided to set up a Community Interest Company to provide affordable and environmentally-sustainable bus services in the local area. Soon afterwards The Big Lemon was born, and we now operate six local bus services in Brighton & Hove, four in Bristol and three in Bath. We also have our very own coach company, Brighton Horizon Coaches which runs a wide variety of coach services both locally and nationally.
Our core values are community, sustainability and innovation, and our mission is to enable everyone to get around their community in an affordable, enjoyable and environmentally-sustainable way.
Originally running all the buses on recycled waste cooking oil from local restaurants, The Big Lemon launched the UK’s first solar-powered electric bus in 2017 and we are now converting our entire bus fleet to electric. Electricity to power the buses is provided by solar panels on the roof of the bus depot.
We have published a guide called Community-Led Transport Initiatives which we offer free of charge to anyone interested in setting up their own initiative, and we also offer training and mentoring support.
Investment: The Big Lemon does not borrow from banks; instead we work with local residents and investors to fund our transition to a fully electric bus fleet through the issue of Community Bonds, secured on the buses themselves. To date our bond scheme has successfully raised over £1.5m and enabled the purchase of ten electric buses and the conversion of two more from diesel to electric.
We do not currently have a live scheme but we are always looking for opportunities to grow our services and invest in more electric buses to accelerate the transition to zero-emissions public transport powered by renewable energy. If you’d like to be the first to know about new schemes please put your details below.
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The Big Lemon has won a number of awards for our work:
Dandelion Award for Sustainable Business 2009
Best Sustainability Initiative, Brighton & Hove Public Service Awards 2010
Best Social Enterprise, EU Ethiconomy Awards 2011
Best in Responsible Transport, Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2012
Bronze Award, Most Sustainable Small Business, International Green Awards 2012
Silver Award, Responsible Business Standard 2013
Social Enterprise of the Year, Sussex Business Awards 2013
Green Business Award, Brighton & Hove Independent Business Awards 2016
Innovation Award, Brighton & Hove Independent Business Awards 2016
Green Business Award, Johnston Press South Business Awards 2016
Best Place to Work, Brighton & Hove Business Awards 2016
Green Business Award, Brighton & Hove Business Awards 2016
Business of the Year, Brighton & Hove Business Awards 2016
Winner, Transport Category, P.E.A. Awards 2016
UK Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year 2016
Most Sustainable Business, Sussex Business Awards 2017
The Big Lemon is an Equal Opportunities and a Brighton & Hove Living Wage Employer. Click here to see our Equal Opportunities Policy