The Big Lemon wins the Award for the Most Sustainable Business at the Sussex Business Awards 2017

At a magnificent ceremony held last night at Brighton’s Grand Hotel to celebrate the 29th annual Sussex Business Awards, The Big Lemon won the award for the Most Sustainable Business.

The Big Lemon was shortlisted in both the Innovation and the Sustainable Business categories, in recognition of our work over the last ten years reducing waste and CO2 emissions by running bus services on recycled cooking oil from local restaurants, and electricity generated by solar panels on the roof of our bus depot.

The Award for the Most Sustainable Business is described by the Sussex Business Awards as “for outstanding achievement by those businesses for whom the protection or enhancement of the environment is placed at the core of their activities, or whose products or practices have resulted in significant beneficial environmental impact”.

Collecting the award, founder Tom Druitt said “A massive thank you to the most amazing team in the world who have made this possible, and to all our friends in the community who have supported us on our journey.”

The winners were drawn from 40 finalists representing 17 Sussex towns . There were 17 different categories, with Bluebird Tea Co named as the big winners of the night, taking home awards for Best Employer and Best Customer Service, and whose founders Mike Turner & Krisi Smith, won Sussex Businessperson of the Year.

 

 

Chichester Christmas Market – 9th December 2017

There are a few seats left on our fun day trip to the wonderful Chichester Christmas Market, on Saturday 9 December 2017.

It’s a great opportunity to find a range of carefully selected top quality crafts and unusual, individual and top quality gifts for all your friends and family. And it’s perfectly timed for Christmas!

Over 60 festive stalls will be on display in the pedestrianised areas of North Street and East Street, with The Cross as the central point.

Travel in style with us to this popular Sussex event, on a guaranteed seat on one of our super comfy coaches with one of our friendly drivers.

 

So everyone can come, we have a range of departure & drop off points:
  • Longridge Avenue A259, Saltdean – 08:30
  • Rottingdean White Horse – 08:35
  • Brighton Old Steine Stop S – 08:50
  • Hove Town Hall Stop D – 09:05
  • Shoreham High Street – 09:20
Return Date & Time
Saturday 9 December 2017 – 17:00

    Book your seats here.

Lewes Bonfire 2017

Once again The Big Lemon will be running coaches to the Lewes Bonfire from Brighton. The bonfire is one of the biggest in the country, there are six societies putting on five separate parades and firework displays on the 5th, and this can mean 3,000 people taking part in the celebrations, and up to 80,000 spectators attending in the small market town with a permanent population of just 16,000.

Careful travel planning is essential for Lewes Bonfire because on bonfire night a lot of the roads are closed and you can’t park anywhere. Buses and trains are difficult too, because on bonfire night everyone and their dog wants to go to Lewes.

With The Big Lemon you can reserve a seat on a dedicated coach that will take you direct to the heart of the action and give you a guaranteed seat on the way home too 🙂

Coaches leave from Old Steine, Lewes Road (by Elm Grove), Lewes Road Bus Garage and Falmer (adj Sussex University on the A27).

To book your seat please follow the link https://thebiglemon.myshopify.com/products/lewes-bonfire-bus

Our new bus services..

Yesterday was perhaps the most challenging day ever for The Big Lemon. On Saturday we had been running one route, the 52. On Monday we added the 47, 57, 16, 16A, 66, 56, and 56E.

What’s more, because of circumstances beyond our control, we had less than two weeks to get everything in place. That has meant, amongst many other things, recruiting ten new drivers, and sourcing buses to run the routes.

So don’t be surprised if you see some London double deckers around Brighton for a few weeks until we can get some new yellow buses out on the road! Please look out for the bus service number and destination on the front of the buses.

The short time we have had to get ready also means that Brighton and Hove Buses have not had the chance to put the new timetables up at bus stops across the city, so many people understandably will not have been aware of the new times and even routes which came into force.

On top of everything yesterday, we, along with all other bus companies, faced massive delays because of the closure of North Street for road works. This meant a good deal of late running which is not acceptable. If the road works continue to cause delays, we may have to turn buses round before their terminus, as Brighton and Hove Buses sometimes do. If we have to do this, we will use social media to try to keep people informed.

I am very grateful for the patience of our passengers as we bed down in these very challenging circumstances. I am also grateful to our drivers and the rest of our team who have worked long hours over the last week to get the show on the road.

Our website www.thebiglemon.com has all the new timetables.

The Big Lemon just got BIGGER!

The Big Lemon just got bigger!

In a fantastic result, The Big Lemon has won almost all the bus routes being tendered by Brighton and Hove Council. This means as well as the 52, local residents will soon be able to catch a Big Lemon bus on routes 16, 47, 56, 57 and 66.

This is a great vote of confidence from the council and is the result of 10 years’ hard work by Tom Druitt and the team, the wonderful friendliness of our drivers, and the environmental and passenger-centred vision we put forward in our bid.

The new services are due to begin on 17th September and there is now a huge amount to do to get ready. We need to recruit lots of drivers and train them.  We need to get lots more buses, get them painted and equipped with everything from ticket machines to GPS equipment. We need to carve out lots more depot space.  And the rest.

The contract with the council is for four years, with an option for them to extend it for a further four years. So for the first time this gives us a significant guaranteed income stream for years into the future, which in turn puts us in a good position to think about expanding further.

As for the buses, we are naturally keen to ensure we extend our fleet of electric buses. Not only is this the right thing to do for the environment, our first two solar powered buses are now out on Route 52, and proving hugely popular with passengers. They are a great advert for bus travel generally.  They will be joined in due course by three brand new electric buses, funding for which is partly coming from the Department for Transport.

So great news, and a really exciting time for us. There is no doubt that the future is bright, the future is lemon.

 

Norman Baker, MD


Join the team!

Join the award winning Big Lemon team: winners of The Award for Best Place to Work in Brighton & Hove at the Brighton & Hove Business Awards in 2016.

We’re a small family-like business that has many employee benefits:

  • a workplace pension scheme
  • full uniform
  • staff bus pass valid on the whole city network
  • staff fund & social activities
  • free lunches
  • have a say on how the company is run
  • more tea that you could ever desire
  • relaxed family feel working environment
  • Transport Benevolent Fund membership

Salary: £11.10 per hour starting salary, rising to £11.50 after 3 months

Hours: 39 hour per week – overtime available

Please download a Driver Application Form and email it to us here.

Want to Invest in the UK’s greenest bus company?

More routes = more buses!  We are putting together an investment offer which we will launch in October and to get in touch if you want to be the first to hear about it!

The Big Lemon in Pictures…..

Follow us on Instagram (thebiglem0n) and tag us in your #thebiglemon adventures.  We love our customers and we’d love to see your smiling faces on our buses and coaches!

And last but not least we’re very proud to supporting and transporting Brighton & Hove Business Awards finalists to Stanmer House for the awards ceremony on 14th September.  Good luck everyone!

 

 

We’re hiring PCV Bus Drivers – immediate start….

The Big Lemon has a reputation for a friendly personal service and we always look for the most cheerful friendly drivers to drive our buses!

We have vacancies for full time drivers, and some part-time drivers, on local bus services. Drivers ideally must be over 25 years of age with two years driving experience. A manual PCV licence is essential.

Salary: £11.10 per hour starting salary, rising to £11.50 after 3 months

Hours: 39 hour per week – overtime available

We offer a workplace pension scheme, full uniform, staff bus pass valid on the whole network, free lunches and the chance to be part of a great team that won the The Award for Best Place to Work in Brighton & Hove at the Brighton & Hove Business Awards in 2016.

We have opportunities for immediate start – if you’re interested please download a Driver Application Form and email it to kelly@thebiglemon.com or call us on 01273681681.

Our now Coach Services Manager explains in a nutshell why it’s great to work here:

A trip down memory lane – ten key milestones in our first ten years

On this day, ten years ago, we launched our first bus service! To celebrate, we’ve put together ten highlights of the last ten years…


2007: We launched the UK’s first bus service powered solely by recycled cooking oil from local restaurants.

2008: A thirteen year old boy came to the depot with his dad, and said he’d seen the buses and read about us in the paper. He said he would like to buy a share in the business with pocket money he’d saved, and also help out in the depot. He helped Tom wash the buses at the weekends, and also helped out in the office after school. Fast forward to 2017 and he’s our Coach Hire Manager, and, having recently passed his Certificate of Professional Competence in International Passenger Transport, the most highly qualified transport professional in the organisation.

2009: We bought our first coach, a Volvo B10m Plaxton Paramount, and launched the UK’s first waste oil-powered coach hire service. We also won our first award, the Dandelion Award for sustainable business, at a ceremony in London.

2010: We doubled the size of our bus service operation almost overnight, launched a waste cooking oil collection service and elected one of our driving team to the Board of Directors to ensure that our drivers are represented at all levels of decision-making.

2011: We launched our Sunday Walks, and won the EU’s Ethiconomy Award at a ceremony in Italy.

2012: We won our first local authority contract, to run the 52 bus. In the five years since we have built strong relationships with the communities along the route, held 11 public meetings, extended the route into the city centre, introduced multi-operator smart-ticketing (in association with the other local operators, the Department for Transport and the City Council) and increased ridership by 59%.

2013: We launched The Big Orange (a coach that was already orange so we saved the money on yellow paint and branded it The Big Orange!) and the Little Lemon wedding car service, using an ex-London taxi. The Big Orange was ultimately painted yellow as we professionalised and improved our cash-flow, and The Little Lemon is now selling beer in Belgium.

2014: We opened our own on-site maintenance facility for the first time, improving our operational capability and also offering vehicle maintenance as a service to other businesses.

2015: The turning point for our finances as we finally paid off the last of our historical debt, greatly improved our cash position, and ended the year with a healthy surplus that enabled us to pay a dividend for the first time and launch our Staff Fund. This fund is 10% of our annual profit which is managed by a staff committee elected by our drivers and is available for staff welfare, team social activities and personal development.

2016: We set our sights on electric bus technology and raised £250,000 to fund the conversion of two buses from diesel to electric. We also raised £25,000 through a crowdfunding campaign and funding from the M&S Energy Awards for solar panels on the roof of our bus depot. We won nine local and national awards including awards for recycling, innovation, and Best Workplace, Brighton & Hove Business of the Year and UK Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year.

2017: This year we published our national strategy going forward to 2030, recruited Norman Baker as Managing Director in Brighton & Hove, and made history again by launching the UK’s first solar-powered bus, powered from electricity generated on the roof of our depot. We have also been shortlisted for three more awards including the National Transport Awards’ Contribution to Sustainable Transport Award and just a week ago heard that we have been successful in our bid to the Department for Transport for £500,000 towards three brand new zero-emissions electric buses to make Brighton & Hove an even cleaner, greener city and build a working model for community sustainable transport across the country.


It’s been a blast, thank you for being part of our story! Here’s to the next ten years…

Tom, Norman and the team