Happy New Year from all of us at The Big Lemon!

We would like to wish you a very Happy New Year and share with you some of the highlights of 2020!
2020 is unlikely to be up there at the top of many people’s ‘Best Years Ever’, but we have a lot to be grateful for. In these difficult times it’s nice to remember some of these moments. I hope that the last year has not been too hard on you, and that 2021 has better times in store for us all!

We have a picture for each month, and for those who are really keen, some of the pictures link to a more detailed story…!
In January we received a visit from George Freeman MP, the Minister for Future Transport, who was very interested in our community model for local public transport, and especially in our solar-bus programme.
In February we found out we had been included in the ‘How Green is my Brighton?’ feature in the University of Brighton’s magazine The Brighton Effect, alongside our friends at Brighton Energy Coop, the Earthship, and Caroline Lucas.
In early March, before the pandemic changed all our lives, we went to Scotland to buy two buses from a lovely chap called Harry O. Harry O had spent the last 25 years running a local bus service between Airdrie and Coatbridge, a one-bus operation that he drove himself, and occasionally got his son to drive when he wanted a day off. 

At the age of 85 he decided to retire, and sold us his buses. This one was his main bus (the other being his spare) and in honour of him and the service he provided to Airdrie and Coatbridge for 25 years we named the bus after him.
On April 1st we started running a reduced service due to the impact of the Coronavirus and the resulting national lockdown; many of our team were furloughed along with millions of other workers around the country, and a small dedicated team of highly trained professionals kept the show on the road for the next five months.
The service throughout April and May was very quiet indeed with just a few passengers, but we kept a limited service going mainly for staff at the Hospital, local supermarkets, pharmacies and other essential services. Areas of the bus were taped off to enable social distancing, and we installed contactless card readers to minimise the use of cash. We also bought a ‘fogging’ machine to provide an anti-viral film on all interior surfaces, and invested in extra cleaning to enable all vehicles to be deep-cleaned twice a day.

Financially the services became reliant on extra public money to keep them going, despite the large reduction in passenger numbers, and we spent a lot of time thinking about the future of the bus industry and how it can adapt to the new situation
In June we were highlighted by Community Energy England alongside Brighton Energy Co-op for our work to power the electric buses with solar energy. Here I am on top of a bus in our depot with Will Cottrell, Chair of Brighton Energy Co-op. 

We are now actively looking for a new site where we can put more solar to power our growing fleet of electric buses.
In July our bus Harry O entered the land of Roblox… apparently that’s a computer game!
In August we joined forces with Seaford & District and launched a new coach company, Brighton Horizon CoachesBrighton Horizon combines the coach operations of The Big Lemon and Seaford & District, and is run by our Coach Services Manager Ryan Wrotny
Have you ever wondered what happens to The Big Lemon buses when they’ve finished with us? In September we found out what one bus has been doing since it retired from our Route 44 in December 2016… it’s been turned into a camper van and has spent the last few years travelling around the world!
In October we tried out another electric bus, the Higer STEED, to see if it would be able to do all our routes. It’s seen here next to St Helen’s Church in Hangleton, just in front of one of our Optare Solo electric buses on Route 16.
In November a little bird told us it was a special boy’s birthday. Arthur is very interested in buses and has been to our depot a few times to see the buses and meet the team. To give him a nice surprise on his birthday, we took the bus to his school and met him as he came out – he was overjoyed and that made us all very happy!
December has been a very busy month!  A couple of weeks ago local communications guru Bill Murray and I launched plans for The Big Lemon London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally – which we hope will be an annual event to demonstrate and celebrate electric vehicle and renewable energy technology. 

Then at Christmas we ran a Santa Bus, initially planned just for the communities on our routes but in the end, due to popular demand, we took Santa all over the city. We raised £477.50 for local foodbanks, and collected a huge amount of food and other essentials as well to distribute to those in need this Christmas. And the best bit? Many many children were very happy to see Father Christmas!
We wish you the very best for a happy and healthy New Year! May 2021 be a kinder year to all of us 🙂

5 thoughts on “Happy New Year from all of us at The Big Lemon!

  1. Lyn and Rob Daglish

    Thanks so much for all the news Tom ! Big Lemon must have been hit badly by Covid ….. so happy that you seem to be surviving. We are looking forward to being able to look at Big Lemon holidays later in the year ! Wishing you and all the crew a brilliant 2021. 👍👍🚌🚌🚌🎉🎉

  2. John Adams

    Happy new year to you and all your marvelous crew. May fortune favour all of you in this coming year..

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