The Big Lemon to run the 52 bus…. saving a number of other services in the process!

It’s official! Following leaks of Council papers and a report in the Argus last Friday, we have now received official notification that The Big Lemon has been given ‘preferred bidder status’ to run the new contract for the 52 bus.

According to the Argus the leaked papers show that the encumbent operator Brighton & Hove Buses had originally been awarded the contract although we had submitted a more cost-effective bid. The contract was apparently awarded to the wrong company due to an ‘administrative error’, and once this had been realised it was rectified.

The good news for the city is that the Council will save about £60,000 by awarding the contract to us, and (again, according to the Argus) this will pay for the 21B, the 81A, and the 81 evening service (Mon-Sat), as well as providing a year’s funding for school buses 74 and 96.

The new tender is for a shortened route of the 52, between Woodingdean and Brighton Marina only, but we are very keen to work with the community to find out if there is any way this can be extended. We are arranging a public meeting for the communities of Woodingdean and Ovingdean to discuss the handover, what the new service will look like, and how we can make it better, and will advertise this widely as soon as we have a date.

The buses for the service will all be low-floor wheelchair accessible and buggy friendly vehicles, which we are in the process of sourcing. They will also be fitted with GPS tracking technology to enable departures to appear on the Real-time Information systems. The tender specification also stipulates that through-ticketing must be in place to ensure passengers can buy tickets which enable them to change buses and use the rest of the local network without paying again.

Tom Druitt, MD of The Big Lemon, said:
“We’re very excited about the prospect of running new routes in the city and we’re looking forward to providing services for residents in Ovingdean and Woodingdean. It’s a great shame that there isn’t enough funding available to run the whole of the existing route but we will do all we can to see if there’s any way we can develop it further to provide a better service. Many people also have concerns about the type of buses and available tickets and so our first priority is to ensure residents are given full information as soon as it becomes available and a chance to have a proper say on what the new service should look like.”

If you have any questions or comments about the 52 service please email us: