Happy New Year from The Big Lemon! Here’s 2017 in pictures…

We’d like to wish all our passengers, customers and friends a very happy New Year!  Thank you for being part of our story in 2017 – what a year it’s been!

Let’s have a look at some of the highlights…

January: We launched our 2030 Vision for sustainable transport in the UK: 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
February: We started work on our solar roof, which now provides power for our two solar buses, our electric minibus, the workshop and the offices. Huge thanks to M&S Energy, our partners Viper IT Solutions, Infinity Foods and Buddies Cafe, and our sponsors and crowdfunding supporters for their generous support.
March: We recruited a new Managing Director, Norman Baker. Norman was previously the MP for Lewes and the Buses Minister in the Coalition Government of 2010-15.
April: We launched the UK’s first solar-powered electric bus with a big ceremony at our depot where we were joined by the mayor of Brighton & Hove, Cllr Pete West, Caroline Lucas MP and Cllr Gill Mitchell, Chair of the city’s council’s Environment, Transport & Committee and a number of our supporters and the local and national press. Massive thanks to our shareholders and bondholders whose support made this possible.
May: The Big Lemon became a train – at the weekends! The ‘rail replacement bus’ is every rail passenger’s worst nightmare, but we are going to change all that… Happiness is a commute on The Big Lemon 🙂
The Big Lemon's electric bus batteries and drive system
June: Batteries and drive pack being prepared for installation into our second Solar Bus by Magtec in their Sheffield factory. The bus, named “Lyndsey Morris” by our Solar Roof partners Infinity Foods, entered service a month later.
The BIg Lemon Brighton Bus Route Map 2017
July: We were informed that we were to be awarded contracts for five new bus services in Brighton & Hove, giving us a for the first time a network covering the whole of Brighton & Hove. After various delays due to a legal challenge by the outgoing operator the contracts were confirmed on 7 September and services launched 10 days later.
August: In preparation for the launch of our new bus services we welcomed 14 new members of staff – doubling the size of our team! And as always, we recruited the nicest people we could find to give our passengers the best possible experience on the buses.
September: As well as launching five new bus services and doubling the size of our team, we celebrated our tenth birthday! Brewed specially for the occasion by our friends at the Zero Impact Brewing Project was The Big Lemon’s 10th Anniversary Pale Ale.
October: We took delivery of the first of six Enviro 200 buses we bought for the new services (in the first few weeks we used loaned vehicles while we trialled a permanent solution). Currently powered by dirty diesel, our goal is to convert all of these buses to electric in 2018. Can you help? Email anna@thebiglemon.com for an investment brochure.

 

November: We won our second Sussex Business Award – this time for the ‘Most Sustainable Business’. The judges mentioned in particular our relationship with the community. Our first Sussex Business Award was in 2013 when we won the award for Social Enterprise.
December: We look back on another momentous year for The Big Lemon and say a massive thanks to those who have made it possible – our staff team who work their socks off every day to provide the best possible experience on our buses and coaches, the customers and passengers who support our services, and our shareholders, bondholders and supporters who make it all possible. Thank you all – here’s to 2018!

Merry Christmas from The Big Lemon!

We’d like to wish all our passengers, customers, suppliers and supporters a wonderful Christmas!

Bus services over the Christmas period are below, with everything back to normal on the 2 January.

Merry Christmas 2017

On 14 January 2018 there will be some changes to our bus services, these are listed here.

Thank you for your support this year, and we hope you have a lovely break!

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.

 

 

The Value of Bus Travel

New Benefit-Cost Ratio analysis reveals enormous value of bus travel

Greener Journeys worked with KPMG LLP to update the Benefit-Cost Ratios (BCRs) of bus travel, illustrating how investment in buses delivers value for money.

Greener Journeys

​The new research looked at the economic, social and environmental benefits of the bus, examining the value of concessionary bus travel, the Bus Service Operators Grant and investment in bus infrastructure.

This new analysis reveals that every pound spent on local bus infrastructure can generate more than £8 of benefits for local businesses, communities and the environment. The study, which explores the ‘true value’ of local bus services, also found that each £1 spent on concessionary bus travel for older and disabled people generates £3.80 in wider benefits to society.

Big Lemon_Skye
The Big Lemon accepts both concessionary bus passes and Carer’s Cards

Buses are Britain’s most widely used mode of public transport and carry more commuters than all other forms of public transport combined, helping to generate £64bn per year for local economies. This vital research demonstrates the significant contribution that our buses make in keeping the UK moving and growing.

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

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

How are we doing? Passenger survey results show 100% satisfaction with The Big Lemon’s drivers

Our main aim at The Big Lemon is to make sure everyone who has a ‘Big Lemon experience’ has a good one. We endeavour to make a positive impact on our community, to give our team a fulfilling and enjoyable job, and of course to give our passengers the best possible experience on the bus.

Every year we do a straw poll of our 52 passengers to see how we’re doing, and here are the results for 2017:

Our 2016 results:
Big Lemon bus 52 survey results 2016

We’d like to thank our passengers for their very positive feedback and we have taken on board the feedback to improve the experience, especially with regard to the vehicles. We have invested a huge amount this year in the quality of our vehicles and are pleased to say that the new electric bus is very quiet, very smooth and has a fully re-fitted interior with very comfortable seating.

We’d also like to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of our team to provide a friendly personal service to our passengers – incredible result to get 100% top marks for our drivers!

Stop Press!

Come and see us in Brighton’s Churchill Square today where our MD Norman Baker will be showcasing our electric bus and chatting to members of the public about bus services as part of Catch the Bus Week