The Big Lemon will be driving into uncharted territory next week with the launch of a new style flexible bus route designed to appeal to a wider audience and make council-supported bus services less reliant on public funds.
The service will be trialled in Hangleton from Monday 29 April on the number 16 bus route, operated by The Big Lemon on behalf of Brighton & Hove City Council.
Founder and Chief Executive of The Big Lemon, Tom Druitt, said, “Funding for bus services in England & Wales has almost halved since 2010 and over 300 bus services have been reduced or withdrawn altogether as a result. Buses are a lifeline for so many people and when services are lost many in our communities become isolated, lonely, and less independent. Moreover, as air quality in cities has become more and more dangerous to breathe and the effects of climate change are felt across the world, it becomes ever more important to invest in sustainable transport for our communities.
“We are lucky in Brighton & Hove that there is a broad consensus on the importance of bus services and funding has been largely maintained. However the pressures on services are growing, and it is becoming more and more urgent to reduce reliance on subsidies to give services a sustainable future.
“The Big Lemon is always on the lookout for innovative solutions to solving transport problems and we hope that by offering a flexible service we can appeal to people who don’t currently use the buses. If successful, this could offer a solution to many of the areas where funding reductions have resulted in the loss of services, and also to areas where services are in danger due to insufficient use and reductions in funding.
“The Big Lemon’s vision is that by 2030 every community in the country has access to affordable, sustainable transport, using zero-emissions vehicles powered by renewable energy and owned by the local community. This is an important step in realising that vision.”
The service will be available on demand from any bus stop in Hangleton and will run from 0830 to 1830 Monday to Saturday. Initially the service will be called by telephone to a dedicated phone line, but if the trial is successful there are plans to create an app that shows where the bus is currently on a map, and enables people to hail it through the app.
The service will run from Hangleton via the Knoll Estate to Portslade Station and Portslade Health Centre; and then return to Hangleton, dropping people off again at any bus stop the passenger chooses.The new-style service comes as part of a raft of improvements that are being made to The Big Lemon’s services, with extensions to the 47 and 52 services offering new connections from Hangleton, the Knoll estate, Patcham, Hollingbury and Fiveways to the Royal Sussex County Hospital and Brighton Marina.
Timetables have been simplified, in most cases offering services at the same time past every hour, and the changes coincide with the addition of The Big Lemon to the city’s real-time information displays and the imminent launch of brand new zero-emissions electric buses offering on-board WiFi and USB charging facilities.