Yate – Chipping Sodbury – Wotten-Under-Edge Bus 84/85 funded until April 2024

We are delighted to confirm that South Gloucestershire Council have agreed to support the 84/85 bus service with funding until April 2024, when hopefully a more permanent solution can be found.

This has come after many months of campaigning by local residents, and recent discussions between The Big Lemon and South Gloucestershire Council. The service had been due to be withdrawn at the end of August but on Thursday last week councillors voted to support funding for the service for the rest of the financial year.

We’re really pleased that funding has been agreed to enable us to continue to run the service through to next year. The 84/85 bus is a vital community service, providing a lifeline to so many people in the area. A massive well done to campaigners working so hard to save the service, and huge thanks to South Gloucestershire councillors for listening to residents and working hard to secure the funding.

As a social enterprise, The Big Lemon exists to provide affordable, sustainable transport to local communities, so rather than maximise profits at the expense of communities, we aim to work with local authorities and the community to ensure bus services can be provided in the most affordable, sustainable and socially beneficial way, for as long as possible. We’re delighted that the 84/85 bus can continue, and will work with campaigners and the local authority to give it the best chance of a long-term future.

Tom Druitt, CEO

Important Update on the 84/85 Service between Yate – Chipping Sodbury – Wotton-Under-Edge

In response to passenger feedback and in consultation with the West of England Combined Authority, South Gloucestershire Council and Gloucestershire County Council, the timetable for the 84/85 service between Yate, Chipping Sodbury and Wotton-Under-Edge is being amended from Monday 26 June to enable more convenient return journeys.

What was the problem with the original timetable?

The original timetable that has been running since 5 June had five anticlockwise journeys (85) and only one clockwise (84). This means that passengers doing a short journey from one village to the next, or to the nearest town, had to either find a different way home, or wait until the one journey in the afternoon that could take them home directly, or travel the whole way around the “wrong way”, taking over an hour and a half to do what should be a five or ten minute journey.

What will the new timetable do?

The new timetable has three journeys in each direction, allowing more frequent services between many destinations and much more convenient return journeys:

When will it start?

Monday 26th June 2023

How long will it run for?

The current service is planned to operate until Saturday 27th August, during which time South Gloucestershire Council will be consulting on its future. There is a proposal to extend it at least until the end of March 2024, and then if funds allow to continue it beyond that as well. As soon as we know more about the consultation and how people can engage with that, we will provide information here on our website.

Why wasn’t there consultation with passengers on the changes from Monday 26 June?

The current contract is only for 12 weeks and this does not provide sufficient time to consult and then make changes. A decision had to made about what timetable to register with the Traffic Commissioner and in view of the passenger feedback so far and the obvious benefits of enabling convenient return journeys, all parties agreed that registering the timetable above would be more beneficial to passengers.

Why wasn’t there consultation with passengers on the changes from Monday 26 June?

The current contract is only for 12 weeks and this does not provide sufficient time to consult and then make changes. A decision had to be made as to which timetable would be most useful to people to run until the end of August, and all parties agreed that the proposed timetable would be the most useful one.

The end of an era for our Sunday Walks…

After 12 years of running Sunday Walks every summer we have taken the difficult decision not to continue with the programme this year. It was a painful decision, and one we put off for a long time, because we still feel it’s important to offer leisure activities ‘off the beaten track’ to people who don’t have access to a private vehicle.

The purpose of our walks programme was to offer people in Brighton & Hove opportunities to access the countryside, especially parts that they cannot already access by public transport. For those without a car, it gave them access to weird and wonderful walks in areas largely inaccessible by public transport, and for everyone else it was a perfect opportunity to leave the car at home and not be restricted by having to do a circular walk. And every walk finished at the pub for a Sunday lunch and a well-deserved pint 🙂

In recent years we also added Walking Holidays to the programme, and last year ran our first ‘Walking Weekender’ too! Since 2017 we have walked the length of the South Downs Way and the Downs Link long distance trails, the Dorset Coast from Weymouth to Sandbanks, across the New Forest and three quarters of the way round the Isle of Wight. And this April we are heading to Suffolk to walk the Suffolk Coast Path between Snape Maltings and Ness Point, Lowestoft – the most easterly point of the British Isles.

All good things come to an end, however, and sadly this year we simply have too much going on to be able to run the walks programme again. If this changes in the future maybe we will do them again – who knows. They were a lot of fun, and we’ll miss them; and if one day we can resurrect them, we will… but only time will tell.

We would like to thank everyone who has supported our walks programme over the years, we have really enjoyed walking with you, and many of you are now dear friends. Many of our regular walkers have also started organising their own walks; if anyone was hoping to join Big Lemon walks this year and would like to be put in touch with a group of like-minded walking buddies let us know and we’ll put you in touch 🙂

And if you’re free from the 28th April to the 1 May come to Suffolk with us!

Service Changes in Bristol & Bath from 3 April 2023

Last October we stepped in to run four bus services in Bristol at short notice following the bankruptcy of the previous operator, and then in November we stepped in again to run three services in Bath that had been withdrawn, leaving some communities without a bus at all.

These services are all supported bus routes (paid for by the local authority because they are socially necessary but not busy enough to be able to operate commercially) and were all on short term contracts that expire on 2 April. Two of these services we will continue to operate on a new four year contract, three will be operated by other operators, and sadly two have lost their funding altogether and will be withdrawn. The full list is as follows:



Thank you

We would like to extend a very warm thank you to all our passengers for your enthusiasm and kindness to us over the last six months, it has been a real pleasure to get to know you! We are also very proud that passenger numbers have grown every month since we started, showing how valuable and well-loved these services are. It was also great fun to bring our electric bus to Bath for the first month, it turned out to be a real hit with passengers 🙂

Obviously none of this would have been possible without an incredible team, and we’re immensely grateful for all their hard work. Mobilising at such short notice wasn’t easy, but everyone has worked incredibly hard to make it work, and they’ve really done us proud. Thank you Team Lemon, you’re amazing 🙂

Electric Buses for Bristol & Bath

We are also very excited to confirm that as part of our commitment to zero-emissions buses on all our routes (powered by renewables and owned by the local community) we are making plans to bring electric buses to route 515 in Bristol and route 20 in Bath, and will soon be releasing our investment brochure with details on how local residents and supporters can help us make this happen!

If you’d like to be first in the queue for information on investment opportunities please let us know below:

We’re recruiting!

We have vacancies in Brighton and Bristol, with excellent rates of pay and the chance to make real difference in your community; working in a fun team with wonderful colleagues 🙂 Drop us a line if you’re interested!

2022 – A Year In Pictures

What a year that was! Many will be glad to see the back of 2022, and it was certainly a difficult year for the bus industry, with lots of uncertainty and a number of high-profile industry casualties.

Two of the biggest ones, Bournemouth Transport (more commonly known as Yellow Buses) and HCT Group (a social enterprise like The Big Lemon) have a special place in The Big Lemon’s story. In the very early days of The Big Lemon, our fleet was at one stage exclusively made up of ex-Yellow Buses vehicles, three East Lancs Dennis Darts, registrations M451 LLJ, M455 LLJ and M461 LLJ. The main reason, obviously, was that apart from being available at the right time, these vehicles were already yellow. They served us well for a number of years, and one of them (M455 LLJ) has survived and has been put back into its original Yellow Buses livery by an enthusiast.

HCT Group became a part of our story for a different reason. As a well-established social enterprise with operations across the country and a strong record of social impact reporting, HCT Group became something of an inspiration to The Big Lemon. We first came across HCT at the UK Social Enterprise Awards in 2012, where their CEO, Dai Powell, won Social Enterprise Leader of the Year, and then again at the same awards in 2016, where we won Environmental Social Enterprise of the Year. HCT enjoyed a fantastic reputation in both the social enterprise community and the bus industry and for many years showed everyone what a real community bus service looked like. Their demise is a huge loss to the sector, but in a strange twist of fate it also created an opportunity for The Big Lemon to launch operations in Bristol and we are delighted that the old HCT team in Bristol helped us form our own team there.

For The Big Lemon, 2022 has been quite a milestone. It was the year we took supplies to Ukraine, the year we ran fully electric all day for the first time, and the year we launched The Big Lemon in other communities outside Brighton & Hove for the first time. We would like to thank all of our staff, our passengers, customers, suppliers and all those who have supported us and made the year a success. Thank you and Happy New Year!

January: The launch event for the second London to Brighton EV Rally on Brighton Seafront:

February: Staff training with a team photo in front of the old Gasworks:

March: Our coach company, Brighton Horizon Coaches, helped transport supplies donated to St Andrews Church in Hove, to London for delivery to Ukraine:

April: We worked with Sussex Homeless Support to collect supplies from people across Brighton & Hove, and then took them to Ukraine. We then brought refugees back to the UK on the way back:

May: Our annual Walking Holiday took us to St Martha’s Hill near Guildford, from where we walked along the Downs Link trail to Shoreham. over four days.

June: on Clean Air Day, 16th June, we ran a fully electric bus service all day on all our public bus routes for the first time – something we have been working towards since 2016:

…then a week later it was time for the second Big Lemon London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally:

July: We launched our EV Car Hire – for those trips that buses just can’t do!

August: Brighton Pride – our driver Debbie organised a bus to enable older and disabled members of the gay community to take part in the float. Our other driver, Mark, drove the bus while Debbie DJed:

September: For the first time since before Covid, we ran the buses once again for the annual Happy Startup Summer Camp – and what a happy weekend it was!

October: In 2017 we launched our 2030 Vision: to enable every community in the UK to have affordable public transport run with zero emissions vehicles powered by renewable energy and owned by the community. In June we managed to run all our Brighton routes with zero-emissions buses for the first time, and in October we took the first step towards bringing zero-emissions community bus services to other communities, with our launch in Bristol:

November: New projects are like buses – you wait ages and then two turn up at once! Following the launch of our bus services in Bristol in October, in November we launched in Bath as well:

December: And that’s it! Another year has passed, and after three Christmas parties we are now looking forward to 2023 🙂 Massive well done to our team and thank you all for your hard work; thank you to our passengers for your support and we wish you all a very Happy New Year!

We’re coming to Bath!

Hot on the heels of our launch in Bristol in October, The Big Lemon will start operations in Bath on Monday 28 November, running three much-needed bus services previously operated by First.

The routes will operate Monday to Saturday, excluding bank holidays:

Route 11 – Bath Bus Station to Bathampton

Route 12 – Bath Bus Station to Haycombe Cemetery

Route 20 – University of Bath to Twerton

The West of England Combined Authority is helping fund the supported bus service, which will offer a range of competitively priced tickets, consistent with other bus operators in the region, for children, adults and groups of five, including day and week tickets.  The Big Lemon will also accept BathRider and AvonRider tickets issued by other operators, along with concessionary Diamond Travelcards.

Due to the short timeframe for commencing the service in Bath, The Big Lemon will initially use diesel buses, while we develop a plan to transition to zero emission electric buses, which will be powered by renewable energy and owned by the community.

Councillor Sarah Warren, deputy leader and cabinet member for Climate and Sustainable Travel at Bath & Northeast Somerset Council, said:

“I am delighted that The Big Lemon is launching in Bath later this month.  The company will run the much needed, and much missed, 11, 12 and 20 bus routes, which stopped operating in October, when First Bus withdrew from its contract.

“Bath & North East Somerset Council has worked incredibly hard over the past few months to develop a long-term, sustainable plan to restore our vital bus services.  The Big Lemon’s ethos of providing a community focused, environmentally friendly and innovative bus service aligns perfectly with our own ambitions to not only be carbon neutral by 2030, but also ensure our local communities have an affordable and sustainable bus service.”

Cllr Sarah Warren, Deputy Leader, Bath & North East Somerset Council

Belinda Nicholls, Bristol & Bath Operations Manager for The Big Lemon, said:

“We are very excited to be expanding our operation into Bath.  The Big Lemon is passionate about providing an excellent passenger experience on all our buses and our drivers in Brighton and Bristol have become famous for their friendly and helpful service. We look forward to bringing the same ethos to our new services in Bath. 

“These are essential community routes and relied on by so many people, and it is fantastic that we can have a positive impact on their day to day lives.  The feedback and comments that we have already received are heart-warming.  We cannot wait to get out on the road and meet our new passengers.”

Bristol & Bath Operations Manager Belinda Nicholls, behind the wheel

To find out more about the new service and its timetables, visit www.thebiglemon.com/bath

Bus Drivers Wanted!

We’re recruiting!

The Big Lemon is looking for qualified PSV drivers to drive routes 11, 12 and 20, as well as all our Bristol routes 505, 506, 515 and 516.

As well as excellent rates of pay, a welcome bonus and free membership of the Transport Benevolent Fund, we offer the opportunity to work in a small family team where everyone is a name, not a number; and we all work together to do our best for our colleagues and for the community.

If this sounds like something you’d like more info on, please fill in the form below 🙂

We’re coming to Bristol!

The Big Lemon is coming to Bristol!

The Big Lemon is delighted to confirm that services will commence in Bristol from Monday 3rd October on the following routes:

Our electric bus “Freddie Harrison” in central Bristol

The Big Lemon is passionate about providing an excellent passenger experience on the buses and excited by the opportunity to launch in Bristol.  Our drivers in Brighton are famous for the friendly and helpful service they provide, and we are really looking forward to bringing the same ethos to our services in Bristol.


Our fares are in line with the requirements of the West of England Combined Authority and consistent with those of other operators in the region.

The BristolRider ticket gives unlimited access to all bus services in Bristol regardless of who they are operated by, and the AvonRider gives unlimited access to all bus services in the wider area including Bath and North East Somerset, Weston Super Mare and North Somerset.

Where’s my bus?

Bus Drivers Wanted!

We’re recruiting!

The Big Lemon is looking for qualified PSV drivers to drive routes 505, 506, 515 and 516. As well as excellent rates of pay, a welcome bonus and free membership of the Transport Benevolent Fund, we offer the opportunity to work in a small family team where everyone is a name, not a number; and we all work together to do our best for our colleagues and for the community.

If this sounds like something you’d like more info on, please fill in the form below 🙂

To keep up to date with news of our Bristol operation please follow @TheBigLemon on Twitter and Facebook.

The Big Lemon London to Brighton EV Rally, sponsored by EDF, returns tomorrow 25th June!

Charge your vehicles – following the runaway success of the inaugural event in September 2021, the second London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally, sponsored by EDF, will now be going ahead tomorrow, Saturday 25th June 2022. In association with the RAC, JLC Group, 3ti and the University of Brighton the Rally will leave from Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London at 7.00am and cover 59 miles, before finishing on Brighton Beach. All entries will stop at Ifield College near Crawley for a breakfast and adjudication before continuing to Brighton.

Tom Druitt, Co-founder of the London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally in vehicle number 2 gives the camera an enthusiastic thumbs up!

Tom Druitt, Co-founder of the event and CEO of The Big Lemon CIC has big things in store for the day:

“Following the success of our inaugural Rally last year we now have a bigger and better event to look forward to on the 25th June! We will be welcoming 67 different vehicles in 11 different categories – from e-bikes all the way to buses, and all vehicles will be on display on Madeira Drive afterwards.

“The aim of the event is to demonstrate and celebrate the rapid development of electric vehicles and renewable energy technology and have a fun day in the process.

“We have some very interesting vehicles in our ‘self-build’ category, and we will be celebrating afterwards with an awards ceremony and after-party at the University of Brighton, with awards for the most efficient vehicles in each class and for the most innovative and most sustainable designs.”

Tom Druitt, Co-founder of the London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally in vehicle number 2 gives the camera an enthusiastic thumbs up!

The team are all incredibly excited to welcome such a diverse and strong display of Electric Vehicles and methods of transportation to the South coast. This year among the self builds there are solar cars and even an electric aircraft following the route to Brighton.

Spectators are invited to join the Rally at the halfway point at Ifield Community College and the finish line at Madeira Drive, Brighton, where all vehicles will be on display and cheered as they cross the finish line.

The finish line with all our fantastic sponsors’ logos is a welcome sight for our intrepid drivers!

The E-village on Brighton Beach will encourage visitors to explore the electric way of life, with an array of interactive stands, live music and entertainment and displays from the UK’s leading EV companies, along with an education zone and test track area.

Visitors will have the opportunity to test drive one of The Big Lemon’s electric buses, ride the Volks Railway, drive converted classic cars and have a ride on the Brighton Zip. A children’s electric go-kart track will give the younger visitors the opportunity to get behind the wheel, whilst the Ardingly College sponsored education zone will help answer any questions and learn about the benefits associated with switching to electric.

Electric vehicles pass over Westminster Bridge the first London to Brighton Electric vehicle rally ***Pic by David McHugh / Brighton Pictures 07768 721637***

As with last year our recovery partner is the RAC, the number-one for EV breakdown as it is the only UK breakdown provider to offer van-mounted, lightweight emergency mobile charging systems for EVs. Their expert patrols can use EV Boost to get a flat quickly sorted out or get a severely depleted EV on the move again. If you need a garage, the RAC’s All Wheels Up recovery system can be used to tow an EV safely with all four wheels off the ground.

JLC group, based in Hailsham, East Sussex are a main sponsor of the event this year and will be profiling their new electric commercial vehicles along with the incredibly fun NoSmoke 1960s inspired convertible. They will be hosting a VIP area at the Brighton Zip and will be displaying their latest state of the art commercial vehicles.

Partnered with YouTube sensation “Fully Charged” the rally will start at 7.00am in London. There will be a mid-point stop at Ifield Community College from 8.00am and then the vehicles will be on display on Madeira Drive, Brighton from 10.00am until 4.00pm. The coveted awards ceremony will take place tomorrow, 25th June at Elm House, University of Brighton with awards for participants with the lowest energy consumption and general performance across all categories.

Categories for the rally include:

  • E-Bikes
  • E-Motorbikes
  • City Cars
  • Saloon cars
  • SUVs
  • Vans
  • Self-builds
  • Minibuses
  • Buses
  • Trucks
  • Electric plane
Competitor no 69 preparing for action!

“We would like to thank all the event’s partners and sponsors for their support, without their help this year’s event would not be possible.”

Bill Harrison, Event Director and Co-Founder

Our partners include: The Big Lemon CIC, EDF, JLC Group, RAC, Fully Charged, University of Brighton, Current PR, Hendy, 3ti and Drive Electric.

Electric Buses in Somerset & Wiltshire?

The Big Lemon headed to Frome last weekend for one of Frome’s Green Breather Days.

This is a day when the town centre is closed to traffic (apart from a Big Lemon bus and a CoCars car-share car!); there are a series of them throughout the year and this particular one had a “sustainable transport” theme.

It was a really enjoyable day! Local shoppers were very interested in the bus and very keen to see zero-emissions bus services in the local area. Frome and Villages Bus Users Group had a stall next door and we had some good conversations about bus services, the potential for a transition to low carbon and zero-emissions buses, and about community business models.

We also met a number of local councillors, both from Frome and also other market towns nearby. There are a number of towns in the area who are looking at their community bus services and are very keen to transition to low carbon and zero-emissions services, as well as improve provision in their towns, especially at evenings and weekends.

We had a great time in Frome and it was a real pleasure to meet local residents, bus users and councillors! It was great to see so many people interested in low-carbon and zero-emissions buses, and there was also a lot of interest in community business models more generally. And to top it all, I bumped into an old friend from Brighton who used to ride The Big Lemon ten years ago!

Tom Druitt, Founder & CEO

The Big Lemon’s public bus network fully zero-emissions for the first time ever – on Clean Air Day!

Following many years of hard work by so many people, and with the help of a large community of supporters and investors, yesterday, for the first time ever, we ran a fully zero-emissions electric bus service on all our public bus routes in Brighton & Hove!

A new spring was ordered straight away from Ireland, but then it had to go through customs.. and who knows how long that’s going to take! But this morning it arrived, and our engineers got onto it straight away.

By lunchtime it was done, which was perfect timing because the bus was then able to relieve other buses so they could have a top up charge which would enable them to then continue for the rest of the day.

So we swapped the buses over to give each one a chance to top up, and that kept the whole fleet going on pure electric until the end of the day. Even the staff ferry vehicle used for drivers’ break reliefs was electric!

Thank you to everyone who has helped make this possible, our team at The Big Lemon, our passengers, and all those in the wider community who have supported us, invested in our buses, helped us crowdfund for our solar roof… Thank you so much

Tom Druitt, Founder & CEO

Sunday Walk on Ashdown Forest

Come and join us for a walk on Ashdown Forest on Sunday 15th May!

The walk takes in beautiful views over gorse, birch and pine heathland, and we may see deer as well as many birds. We will visit the A A Milne Memorial, the Airman’s Grave and the “Garden of Eden” waterfall.

The bus will leave Stop S, Old Steine, Brighton at 10am. Bring good walking shoes/boots, a bottle of water, sun cream and a coat.

Book Now

This is the first of the season’s walks. Others planned are:

5 June – Cuckoo Trail Hailsham to Horam

26 June – Friston Forest & the Long Man of Wilmington

24 July – Pevensey to Herstmonceux, option to finish at the castle or the pub

21 August – Ditchling Beacon & Blackcap – finish at Half Moon, Plumpton

11 September – Pulborough to Amberley, finish at the riverside

1/2 October weekend – New Forest: two day weekend break exploring the New Forest with one night in the Lyndhurst/Brockenhurst area

30 October – Cissbury to Chanctonbury and finish in Washington

Admiring the view on one of our previous walks to Chanctonbury Ring

Ukraine Appeal

The Big Lemon is working with Sussex Homeless Support to support a refugee centre on the Hungarian/Ukrainian border, and residents in the town of Mukachevo in western Ukraine. A Big Lemon bus will be leaving from Hove Town Hall on Thursday evening, 9.30pm, 7 April to take aid to Mukachevo.

Please help by spreading the word, donating items or supporting our crowdfunder. Thank you!

To make it really easy, we’ve put all the important info in one image, below. Please share widely and let’s fill this bus! Thank you so much.

Please bring your donations to:

The Big Lemon depot, Protran House, Boundary Rd, Brighton BN2 5TJ Weekdays 9am – 5pm

You can also give things to our drivers on the bus: www.thebiglemon.com/buses; 01273 681681

Sussex Homeless Support, 35b Providence Place, Brighton, BN1 4GE; Weekdays 10am – 4pm

Hove Town Hall: Tisbury Road, Hove BN3 2BF

A Big Lemon bus will be parked outside the back of Hove Town Hall on Thursday 7 April, between 4pm and 9.30pm, staffed by volunteers. Please come and say hi, and bring anything you have from the list. Thank you!

Please Donate to our Crowdfunder!

Ukraine is in great need of specialist medical supplies which most people do not have in their kitchen cupboards so alongside the donations that Brighton & Hove residents are providing we are also buying medical equipment on the way (it’s simpler to buy it in the EU and pick it up en route). How much we can buy depends on how much we can raise, so all donations will be very welcome and will make a big difference!

A couple of weeks ago we used one of our coaches from Brighton Horizon Coaches to take donations collected at St Andrews Church in Hove to London, for onward transport to Poland to support Ukrainian refugees. The volunteers in London were very pleased to see us and very grateful for the support of residents of Brighton & Hove:

Last chance to have your say on Brighton & Hove’s new Local Transport Plan #OneJourneyBetter

Brighton & Hove City Council is currently consulting on a new Local Transport Plan (LTP5), and Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP).

There is a huge amount to be welcomed. The direction of travel is good, and the ambition is clear. The council wants to make walking and cycling safe and easy, and bus travel affordable and convenient. There is a commitment to air quality and health, and to meeting the city’s aspirations for a carbon-neutral 2030.

The overarching Vision of the Local Transport Plan is Better connected residents, businesses and visitors, for an improved quality of life in a healthy, inclusive and carbon neutral city”.

In pursuit of this vision, there are three main objectives:

  1. Reduce the need to travel
  2. Switch how people travel
  3. Encourage cleaner vehicles

Within the plan, the council hopes to achieve these objectives by

  • creating an inclusive and integrated transport system
  • developing streets and places that encourage and enable active travel
  • increasing public transport use
  • reducing car use
  • promoting and facilitating the use of low and zero emission vehicles
  • promoting and using technology to reduce and manage travel

There are many positive actions proposed as part of the plans, ranging from the creation of a “liveable city centre”, strategic transport hubs and an expanded ultra-low emissions zone; to support for car-free developments, school streets and low traffic neighbourhoods. In addition the LCWIP also has very ambitious plans to create walking zones across large parts of the city where walking is made much easier, safer and more pleasant; as well as a network of safe cycling routes.

What do we think?

The Big Lemon wholeheartedly welcomes the objectives, but has some reservations about how they are to be achieved. In short, we do not believe that the actions identified in the plan will be enough to achieve the plan’s objectives.

Why do we think this? Because the current draft of the plan stops short of the radical action required to realise its vision. To achieve a better connected, inclusive and carbon neutral city will require a much more radical change to the city’s transport infrastructure.


While an expanded ultra-low emissions zone is very much welcomed, there is no specific information on the area that will be covered or the vehicles that it will apply to; and most importantly there is no mention of a congestion zone. The ultra-low emissions zone by itself will not reduce congestion long term because as vehicle manufacturers shift to electric (and in some cases hydrogen) more and more vehicles will become compliant and therefore will no longer be covered by the zone. This is a good thing for air quality, but it’s not a long term solution for congestion.

Additionally, in order to make buses more attractive to people we need to make them quicker and cheaper; and although the draft plans recognise this, they are not sufficiently ambitious to achieve it. Red routes and bus priority at junctions will make a difference and we welcome them, but they are incremental improvements – not the radical change that is required to create a noticeable difference to journey times and fares.

What would this radical change look like?

  • A comprehensive network of sustainable transport corridors, with segregated bus and cycle lanes ,would make active travel and public transport much more attractive and allow for significantly faster journeys and, ultimately, cheaper fares.
  • On-street parking should be restricted to side roads, leaving the main routes in and out of the city fully available to maximise movement along these important corridors. In short, our valuable strategic routes in and out of the city should not be used for parking vehicles in.
  • Strategic transport hubs should be close to the city boundary with sufficient parking to take most incoming vehicles off the road and provide their passengers with fast and convenient trains, buses and cycle routes straight to the heart of the city

What do you think?

Our Passenger Survey Results are in!

Each year we like to do a passenger survey; last year we didn’t do one due to Covid, but this year we did!

Soon after the results came in the services went out to tender (the original contract expired on 16th September) so we didn’t publish them during the tender process. However, now that process has finished, we are free to share them.

500 paper questionnaires were handed to passengers at random on our public bus routes 16, 47, 52 and 57 in the week of 21 – 27 June. 313 questionnaires were returned.

A Few of the Highlights:

  • 93% said information was easy to access;
  • 98% said the service was “spot on” or “reasonably” punctual;
  • 98% said they felt ‘Covid-safe’ on our buses;
  • 99% said the bus was “spot on” or “reasonably” clean;
  • 99% said the bus was “spot on” or “reasonably” comfortable;
  • 99% said they thought the journey was good value for money;
  • 99% said they wanted The Big Lemon to continue operating the service; and100% said the driver was “spot on” or “reasonably” friendly and helpful.

Social Enterprise, Zero Emissions and Renewable Energy

  • 76% knew that we’re a social enterprise run for community benefit
  • 77% knew that we’re converting our fleet to 100% electric
  • 55% knew that we power the buses with solar panels on the roof of our depot

And about three quarters of our passengers felt these things were important:

  • 75% thought local, social enterprises are important
  • 77% thought zero-emissions buses are important
  • 76% thought renewable energy is important

The Importance of the Buses

One thing that was really clear was how much people rely on the buses:

  • 71% relied upon the buses to get around
  • a further 27% did have other options but preferred the bus

And if these services weren’t provided:

  • 44% would have used another bus
  • 8% would have used a car
  • 9% would have used a taxi
  • 17% would have walked or cycled
  • 2% would have used something else
  • 20% would have stayed at home

Founder and CEO of The Big Lemon, Tom Druitt, said

We are delighted to see such positive feedback, especially in regard to the service provided by our drivers. Community is central to everything we do at The Big Lemon, and our focus is on recruiting friendly, helpful staff and training them to deliver a high quality, personal service on the buses. It’s really nice to see our team so appreciated.

“It’s also reassuring to know that people feel Covid-safe on our buses, and we would like to reassure everyone that we are still deep-cleaning the buses every day, and providing face coverings on the buses for those who need them.

“We are conscious that there is work to do on information provision, and we have recently invested in new ticket machines to provide more accurate geolocation; on-board next stop announcements; and a passenger app (coming soon!) where people can see where their bus is and how long it will take to arrive.

The big eye-opener for me was how important these services are for people. 20% of passengers reported that if the service didn’t run they would have simply stayed at home. With isolation and loneliness such big problems in our community it is essential that we maintain these lifelines for people who would otherwise be excluded from so much of life, with very little opportunity to meet people, build friendships and maintain their independence.

The Survey Results in Full


  • Good service
  • My only bus
  • Very good service and drivers are always helpful. Drivers always say hello (Brighton & Hove bus drivers a lot of the time don’t even smile, but some are really pleasant)
  • Very convenient as it’s quicker than any 5 bus and the only bus to go to my college that I can access from my home.
  • Very friendly and very helpful
  • Excellent service
  • It’s a great service! Fab, friendly drivers.
  • More efficient, friendly staff
  • It is reliable and friendly
  • Good service, drivers very obliging and friendly. Not like the 5B.
  • Friendly drivers, useful route and yellow buses
  • Very friendly & reliable!
  • Most convenient and I like it.
  • All of the above
  • It provides a good service with good staff.
  • Lovely staff and very good service.
  • Nice drivers.
  • Because it is a community bus and the bus drivers are all well known on The Big Lemon.
  • Because it would upset my sons routine as he knows all the staff and bus by name. The service provided is better than B&H buses.
  • Because it is the only bus that goes directly to my house.
  • Drivers are friendly
  • because it is a friendly and reliable service
  • Always on time, use clean energy and friendly staff.
  • it’s very good
  • this bus is very easy to use and does not take a long time unlike other buses. Please continue this service because it is very important to us.
  • I am used to the drivers because I have a brain injury.
  • It’s just brilliant, can’t fault it. Renewable energy, good community feel to their service. Friendlier and happier bus drivers than B&H buses 🙂
  • Because it is the best bus in Brighton!
  • We want to stick with what we know
  • why change something so successful.
  • It works.
  • Very pleased with The Big Lemon and its operation
  • It is by far the very best bus company!
  • because it’s good and gets me to where I want to go
  • It is convenient
  • It goes where I need to go to work
  • Follow the yellow bus road!
  • Consistency
  • Satisfied with The Big Lemon
  • It is a very reliable, satisfactory service.
  • Friendlier staff
  • They are reliable and friendly
  • It’s the best because of its values.
  • reliable, friendly staff
  • Because the drivers are fab!
  • I have always used this bus and enjoy the company of the drivers.
  • Very reliable
  • Friendly reliable drivers
  • Much more reliable now – shame not a half hourly service
  • I like the ethos of the company
  • Lemon seem to really care about the environment
  • good for the community and the environment
  • I just don’t mind which company you are but I don’t want it to be suspended I rely on it every day
  • Environmentally clean
  • Top staff on the whole
  • helps elderly and others to get around
  • Has improved and is now working well
  • Efficient
  • Because I like this bus
  • They provide a great service
  • Very efficient and usually on time. Saves me changing buses as I can complete my journey on one bus.
  • A very good service for those not on a normal bus route
  • The drivers are always helpful
  • used to it and like Big Lemon services
  • The drivers are great/ so helpful. Bus reliable.
  • You do a wonderful job and a great service
  • we have friendly drivers
  • It’s the only bus I can use to get to school.
  • It would be helpful to have the buses running more frequently
  • Very good service and polite staff
  • The Big Lemon is providing a valuable service and feels part of the community. Why would we want to change that?
  • because it is easy for out family, safe and is so quick
  • The normal buses have a live timetable to see precise location of bus
  • They are the best
  • God personal service, reliable. staff care about passengers
  • because my son is autistic and doesn’t like change and the bus drivers are friendly
  • environmentally friendly
  • Great service and helpful staff
  • Most definitely is a friendly bus and we all know each other.
  • they have given a very good service throughout these difficult times.
  • I have found it a perfect service and very well run. I don’t see why it should change.
  • Good service and nice drivers.
  • The best
  • Access for the most remote areas in Ovingdean
  • I am happy with the service.
  • They are such friendly people.
  • The best!
  • Because it works and i can rely on it.
  • It goes down roads that other buses don’t.
  • Big Lemon are Electric.

Do you have any other comments you would like to make?

  • As long as it turns up and stops
  • Keep up the good service
  • Please keep this bus
  • I would be inconvenienced without it.
  • I would miss this bus as it is door to door for me and as I am elderly this is amazing!
  • They have been doing an excellent job
  • Possibly have solar panels on actual buses so don’t have to change all the time!
  • Operate 52 on a Sunday for Woodingdean. To have all leather seats on buses and remove the fabric seats on older buses.
  • I would prefer Big Lemon to continue, they know us
  • Mark is a fantastic driver who is amazing with all the passengers and really good and patient with the kids.
  • Drivers are helpful and friendly and the company offers help to the community no matter what.
  • Is it possible that it could come earlier?
  • This bus is very helpful to me and others.
  • I think The Big Lemon is brilliant!
  • Big Lemon is doing a good job and I would like seeing the company going electric and doing their but to the world!
  • Thank you so much to the bus driver you make my day every day.
  • Must keep our lemon bus! from Barbs the lemon bus makes me happy x
  • Good all round service
  • Very impressed with all your drivers and buses!
  • Very helpful and friendly drivers – efficient service
  • Please do not take it off
  • a 2 hour Sunday service ( 10am, noon, 2pm, 4pm)!
  • Occasionally I have I have had to wait a long time for a bus going from Preston Park to Fiveways.
  • I hope you continue
  • The bus doesn’t always show on real time boards
  • A lot of the time the same people use this bus at the same time. I have made quite a few friends!
  • Ady and Brian, very helpful and polite, friendly and welcoming.
  • All drivers are very friendly
  • Half hour frequency at busy times
  • Unfortunate when certain afternoon buses filled with school children who aren’t always going to Saltdean but get off in Brighton. They also occupy seats meant for the elderly. Could the drivers please ensure this doesn’t happen when elderly passengers get on and have to stand!
  • I would like an earlier service (7am), which serves Brighton Station, to be considered.
  • Great service, great style
  • Please can we have a Sunday service too
  • Some buses can run down Lyminster early
  • Maybe could do with two services an hour instead of one every hour
  • Would really miss this service
  • Would still prefer the route to go via Churchill Sq
  • Great service on a difficult route
  • An invaluable service for the elderly
  • Desperately worried bus route might go.
  • It’s good that Hangleton is served to Portslade
  • Thank you for providing an efficient and cheerful service.
  • Please continue The Big Lemon
  • If this bus stops, so does my freedom. (as do so many others)
  • Very good service
  • Would be helpful to have a Sunday service
  • Don’t take our bus away
  • The drivers are all very friendly and helpful
  • Sustainable and compact bus and all buses should be like this
  • Using this bus has allowed me to use public transport in a covid era because it make me feel safer than other bus services. Otherwise I would not use any public transport.
  • Please continue with this bus
  • keep the good work up your drivers are always so lovely and helpful.
  • Love you guys!
  • It’s nice to talk to other passengers, we have all got to know each other.
  • Keep this route, would be nice every half an hour.
  • Provides a high level of service by its drivers and staff.
  • If the bus 47/57 no longer operates I and several others users will not be as we have difficulty climbing the hill from Longridge Avenue to East Saltdean.
  • It’s a pleasure travelling on big lemon.
  • Use both 16 & 47 and excellent drivers.
  • The 52A at 7:10 from Cowley Drive stops (Woodingdean) would be useful to go to Stanford Avenue (Mon-Fri).
  • Would be extremely good if you had one bus to run later to support hospital workers at end of shift 20:00hrs.
  • Good service all around & good for the environment.
  • A very good service overall.
  • You drivers are so nice, friendly and polite.
  • Big Lemon is the best even during covid-19 they still picked me up everyday
  • 2 buses an hour
  • Mark the driver is brilliant.
  • All the drivers are helpful friendly and always on time Mark is very friendly driver.
  • We don’t want to be without our bus please keep the Big Lemon running
  • It would be nice if one of the buses included north Rottingdean
  • Long may it continue
  • Again been very pleased with the service
  • Please keep going
  • It’s the best bus service in Brighton
  • I really need the bus as it’s very good and I cannot walk very far because of my RA
  • I always catch the 52 when I need the bus over other services.
  • Hard to find bus timetables.
  • Drivers really cheerful/helpful local service.
  • Helpful friendly drivers nothing too much trouble
  • it’s very important to have a good service
  • We would like the buses to run later than 6PM
  • Bus to finish a bit later
  • The buses are always clean
  • I felt safe to use the bus during Covid
  • I would use it more often if it was more frequent ( say every 1/2 hour)
  • It can be quite difficult to know if the bus is delayed or cancelled.
  • Sustainability is key for all public transport, buses in particular and The Big Lemon is the only bus company that runs 100% electric buses powered by solar energy
  • Keep up the great work. I am an investor in The Big Lemon
  • I am an investor
  • Good luck – keep up the good work!
  • Drivers are so friendly and helpful, you feel safe
  • This is a community bus for our community and which we would choose to remain as one
  • Drivers are exceptionally friendly and cheery.
  • I have used the 52 bus since it started. Will be sorry to lose this service.
  • The drivers who drive the 16 are always helpful and know your name when you get on.
  • Big Lemon buses always have the friendliest drivers
  • Just “thank you” for help given and appreciated
  • Very good service and always helpful. It would be a shame to see them go as they cover many areas of Brighton that can be awkward to reach.

The Big Lemon London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally 2021 – a celebration of the rapid development of electric vehicles and renewable energy

Video by Ric Boullemier, Generate Media, on behalf of Fully Charged

The first ever London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally ran its inaugural event on Saturday, 18 September, with 71 vehicles in nine different categories crossing the finish line next to the Palace Pier, having driven 59 miles from Parliament Square to Brighton.

The Deputy Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Cllr Mary Mears, welcomed participants as they finished the rally, and BBC Sussex Breakfast show presenter, Allison Ferns, did a live commentary on the vehicles as they crossed the line.

Over 3000 people visited the event on Brighton seafront, where vehicles were displayed following the finish, and other attractions also featured an electric go-kart track and the solar car built by Ardingly College and Ifield Community College that completed the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge in Australia in 2015 and 2019.

The inaugural event was the brainchild of co-founders Tom Druitt and Bill Murray, and was put together by The Big Lemon to celebrate the rapid development of electric vehicles and renewable energy technology, and to mark the transition of The Big Lemon’s fleet to electric.

Rally participants enjoying a well-earned pit stop at Ifield College, Crawley. Pic by David McHugh / Brighton Pictures 07768 721637

Sponsored by EDF, Britain’s biggest generator of zero-carbon electricity, the event also included key partners Fully ChargedEndeavour Motors (Polestar)the RACDrive ElectricR SymonsInterCounty Mercedes BenzZero MotorcyclesMoto-EbikesElectric Brighton and Novo Insurance. Charity partners included food redistribution charity Fareshare Sussex and the Martlets Hospice.

The Fareshare electric van charges up before the Rally start

Actor Mark Williams crossed the finish line in a brand-new Polestar electric vehicle supplied by Endeavour Motors, and Cedric Lynch completed the course in a self-built motorcycle created in 1991 that can do 500 miles cruising at 50-60mph!

The Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Cllr Alan Robins; with Consort, Val Cawley; Chair of The Big Lemon, Ron Tanner; and Big Lemon CEO and co-founder of the London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally, Tom Druitt.

The event finished with an Awards Ceremony at The Grand attended by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Cllr Alan Robins, with awards for the lowest energy consumption in each class. Winners were:

  • Ebike: Dominic Eldred-Earl
  • Motorbike: Michael Kendra
  • City Car: Darren Pullman
  • Saloon Car: Dave Dewson
  • SUV: Ross Henderson
  • Van: Ramon Rottier
  • Minibus: Peter Flynn
  • Bus: Charlotte Hautot
  • Self-build: Cedric Lynch

In addition, awards for most innovative, most sustainable and best presented entries were given to:

  • Most Innovative: JLC Electric Vehicle Solutions
  • Most Sustainable: Cedric Lynch, on his self-built motorcycle with his own Lynch motor
  • Best Presented: Ralph Messenger, with his original (and very polished!) Austin 10 van, converted to electric with Tesla batteries and drive system and complete with driver and co-driver in matching tweed
Ralph Messenger (left) and Robert Scott give a polish to their original converted Austin 10 fitted with a Tesla battery. Pic by David McHugh / Brighton Pictures 07768 721637

And finally The Big Lemon Yellow Riband for Best Ambassador for EVs and Renewable Energy was presented to InterCounty Truck & Van for their continuous and enthusiastic promotion of the benefits of electric vehicles and renewable energy and the importance of transitioning to more sustainable vehicles.

CEO of The Big Lemon and co-founder of the London to Brighton Electric Vehicle, Tom Druitt, said

“Bill and I are so pleased with how the first event has gone and would like to thank our families, our team Jude, Jo and Olivia, the team at The Big Lemon, our sponsors EDF, all our commercial partners, and most importantly all those who participated in the event.

“At the start we always agreed that the most important thing would be for everyone to have a good time, and judging by the smiles on everyone’s faces, we are very happy to say this first event was a great success.

“We are blessed to have met so many enthusiasts for electric vehicles and renewable energy, including a number of people who have built their own vehicles or done conversions of older vehicles. My personal favourites were the converted Austin 10 van, the three-wheeled Bond Bug and Cedric Lynch’s electric bicycle, which completed the whole route using less than a third of a kilowatt hour.”

“This event also marks the transition of The Big Lemon’s fleet to fully electric, and I hope that this and future events will help us achieve our vision of zero-emissions vehicles running on renewable energy offering affordable public transport in every community in the UK by 2030.”

Tom and Bill relax at the end of the night with Nelle, the youngest participant in the rally, aged 4 days