About Us

Welcome to the world of The Big Lemon!

In 2006 a group of people got together in a pub in Brighton to discuss public transport and decided to set up a local bus service which would be affordable, environmentally sustainable and a pleasure for passengers to use.

The Big Lemon now operates local bus services and bus & coach hire for a wide variety of private parties, weddings, sports clubs, schools, colleges, universities, business and conferences. We also run festival coaches to a wide range of music festivals and outdoor events such as Glastonbury, Bestival, Reading, Latitude, Shambala and Lewes Bonfire.

Our mission is to enable everyone to get around their communities in an affordable, enjoyable, and environmentally-sustainable way.

Our 2030 Vision

By 2030 every community in the UK has access to affordable, sustainable transport, using zero-emissions vehicles powered by renewable energy and owned by the local community

Get in touch if you’d like us to get to work in your community!

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Have a look behind the scenes…


Community is a big part of life at The Big Lemon. We are owned and run by members of the community and actively encourage members of the community to buy shares in the company. We regularly get out and about to talk to members of the community and host public meetings where people can come and discuss their thoughts, ideas and concerns with us and other members of the community.

The PQA Southwick cast of

The Big Lemon is a Community Interest Company (CIC). CICs are registered companies with special additional features, created for people who want to conduct a business for community benefit, and not purely for profit. This is achieved by a “community interest test”, an “asset lock”, and a “dividend cap”. These ensure that the company is established for community purposes and the assets and profits are dedicated to these purposes. CICs are regulated by the CIC Regulator.


At The Big Lemon everything we do is focussed on sustainability. From the aims of the business to everything we do on a daily basis, we aim to reduce both our impact on the environment and that of our community at large.

Here are ten of our main achievements so far:

  1. Our fuel is sourced locally from waste cooking oil from restaurants in and around Brighton & Hove
  2. All the rubbish on the buses and from the office is sorted and collected by Brighton Paper Round with the vast majority recycled
  3. All paper we buy for the office is 100% recycled
  4. Everything that doesn’t need to be printed on new paper is printed on the back of waste paper from old letters etc
  5. All our promotional material is printed on 100% recycled paper by A Local Printer
  6. All our office furniture is pre-loved waste furniture we have acquired from friends, local businesses, the city council and GreenCycleSussex
  7. We have a compost heap in the depot where we compost all our office food waste and tea bags
  8. We have a Sustainability Policy which we review each year
  9. We won the Dandelion Award for sustainable business in 2009
  10. We won “Best Sustainability Initiative” at the 2010 Brighton & Hove Public Service Awards
Markus in 'the lab' making our first test batch of biodiesel
Markus in ‘the lab’ making our first test batch of biodiesel

All our vehicles including support vans run on recycled waste cooking oil from local restaurants.

The waste oil is collected from chip shops, restaurants and hotels in Brighton & Hove and across Sussex. It is then processed in a factory near Eastbourne to make biodiesel, a plant-based alternative to regular mineral diesel.

Unlike burning fossil fuels like mineral diesel – which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which had been buried for millions of years – burning plant material only releases the carbon dioxide that the plant had absorbed in the last few years as it grew, not any new emissions in our lifetime. If no one used the oil, it would be sent to our already overstretched landfill sites, which in turn emit another greenhouse gas – methane.


The benefits of biodiesel from waste cooking oil include:

  • Approx 75% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared with mineral diesel*
  • Virtually no sulphur dioxide (a major contributor to acid rain)*
  • Lower emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and particulates*
  • Approx 25% reduction in nitrogen oxides if engine timing is ‘retarded’*
  • 79% less waste water and 96% less hazardous solid waste*
  • Biodegrades four times quicker than mineral diesel*
  • No wars, Arctic drilling or ocean rig disasters required

* Source: “How to make biodiesel”, Low Impact Living Initiative, Winslow 2005

The Service

Our main focus is to give our passengers a thoroughly enjoyable experience on our buses!

How do we do this? By being friendly and helpful, and a little old-fashioned. We say hello when you get on the bus, and we have human beings answering the office telephone. We service the buses every four weeks to minimise breakdowns and increase reliability, and we have realistic timetables to ensure good punctuality. We always do our best to repatriate lost phones, wallets and items of clothing, and we’re always there for a cup of tea and a chat with anyone who wants one. Just come and say hello!


The Big Lemon has won the following awards:

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 Social Enterprise of the Year 2016

The Big Lemon is an Equal Opportunities and a Living Wage Employer.  Click here to see our Equal Opportunities Policy