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!
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of the previous operator, and then in November we stepped in again to run three services in Bath that had been withdrawn, leaving some communities without a bus at all.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:
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 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!
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.
…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!
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.”
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.”
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 🙂
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!
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.
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 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.”
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 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.
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:
“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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
A Big Lemon bus will be parked outside the back of Hove Town Hall onThursday 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!
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:
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:
Reduce the need to travel
Switch how people travel
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
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
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
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.
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.
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!
Satisfied with The Big Lemon
It is a very reliable, satisfactory service.
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.
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
Top staff on the whole
helps elderly and others to get around
Has improved and is now working well
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
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.
Access for the most remote areas in Ovingdean
I am happy with the service.
They are such friendly people.
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 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.
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 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 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
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.”
We are delighted to be welcoming the London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally to Brighton & Hove tomorrow, Saturday 18 September, brought to you by The Big Lemon and proudly sponsored by EDF.
The first pure electric vehicle rally in England, the London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally is being held to celebrate the rapid development of electric vehicles and renewable energy technology (and to have a lot of fun!)
The event was due to take place in July but was postponed due to rising Covid cases in Brighton & Hove. Fortunately, recent data confirms that Covid cases are now falling in the city, so the event can go ahead.
The event marks the transition of The Big Lemon’s bus fleet to zero-emissions, which began with the launch of the UK’s first solar-powered electric bus in 2017, and will be complete this autumn with the addition of four Higer STEEDs and three Optare Versa EVs, adding to the existing fleet of eight Optare Solo EVs and an electric minibus.
The Rally Finish
Members of the public are being welcomed to watch the vehicles cross the finish line, from 12 noon tomorrow, Saturday 18th September. BBC Radio Sussex Breakfast Show host Allison Ferns will be providing live commentary as the vehicles cross the line.
Sustainability and Inclusivity
The London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally is also aiming to raise the bar for sustainable and inclusive events:
Public Transport category to promote sustainable public transport
Tiered pricing to make it affordable for everyone
Free entry for the public on Madeira Drive
All power generation on site is renewable, with biodiesel generators where necessary
Zero-emissions electric go-karts for children
Awards for the least amount of energy consumed in each class
Keeping the Madeira Drive cycle lane open throughout, to encourage active travel to the event and ensure we do not disrupt active travel in the city during the event.
The event will finish with a Prize-giving ceremony at The Grand with awards for the lowest amount of energy used in each category:
and for the public transport category the award will be for the quickest time and the greatest number of different modes .
Event organisers have gone to great lengths to create an event that is as Covid-safe as possible with social distancing throughout the event. The EVillage at the Finish Line on Madeira Drive is fully outdoors, and at the prize-giving ceremony numbers have been restricted to 1/3 of the room capacity to enable physical distancing.
Earlier today we said good bye to our great friend, and director of The Big Lemon, Fred Harrison.
Fred, also known to his friends as ‘Steady Freddie’, has been involved in The Big Lemon since almost the very beginning, as a volunteer, director and Chair of the Board of Directors between 2014 and 2018.
Fred was a big part of The Big Lemon. Having joined as a volunteer in 2008, Fred got stuck in, helping Tom with every aspect of running the business, from collecting waste cooking oil for use in The Big Lemon’s buses to planning funding campaigns for our transition to electric buses.
Fred lived in Hove with his wife Miriam and daughter Mia. A kind, gentle and incredibly generous man, Fred was a big part of The Big Lemon and made a huge impact over many years. He always had a smile on his face and was well-loved by all who knew him.
“I remember when Tom called me and told me about Fred’s offer to help with building The Big Lemon. We both couldn’t quite believe that this unassuming gentleman had landed at the doorstep with a willingness and quiet enthusiasm to help with anything to grow The Big Lemon.
“That act of kindness was Fred’s personal trademark. Everywhere he went in life he touched people with uncanny acts of generosity that helped them feel special. Fred stood for everything the Big Lemon is about – that people and the community are at the core of life. Farewell Fred .. we love you”
Ron Tanner, Chair, The Big Lemon
In a personal tribute, The Big Lemon’s founder and CEO, Tom Druitt, made the following address at Fred’s funeral earlier today:
I’d like to say a few words about Fred, to honour him and thank him for his contribution to The Big Lemon and his support for me over many years.
It’s no exaggeration, as we all know, to say that Fred was one of the kindest, most generous and good-natured people one could ever have the good fortune to meet. When he retired from Glencore he got in touch and offered his help at The Big Lemon on a voluntary basis. We were a fledgling organisation at the time, not even a year old, and were hopelessly overwhelmed with the amount of work we had to do.
Fred came over to the office once a week and helped me get on top of things; he was happy doing absolutely anything, from counting cash fares and banking, to sourcing equipment and parts for the buses, to observing our services on the road and recording punctuality data. Everything Fred did was done with a smile, wholehearted support, and his trademark graciousness that we all know and love.
I sometimes wondered what he got out of it in the early days. He never asked for anything in return. He was happy to give advice when asked, but resisted offering it unless he was asked. He never said no to anything, and was always there at the end of the phone if I needed to chat about something. I grew to rely on him a lot, and he helped us make the business into (almost!) a proper business.
Recently Fred and I chatted about these early days, and the penny dropped. Fred had worked in a haulage firm when he left school, and the owner of the company had given him a lot of responsibility, including leaving 16 year old Fred in charge of a fleet of trucks running the up and down the country, while he went on holiday for two weeks. Fred had enjoyed that, and seen how it had helped him in life, and now Fred wanted to give back. Fred was a huge support for us all at The Big Lemon, but I noticed how he had a special interest in our young people and their development in the business and in the industry.
Fred was a very committed and very loyal person. He joined our board of directors, then became our Chairman, and when he popped in he always took the time to say hello to everyone and tell them what a great job they were doing. He stood by me and our whole team through thick and thin, celebrating our successes and supporting us when times were difficult. We have had a few scrapes over the years, but Fred has always been there, no matter how large or small the problem, with a friendly face and a solution. Again, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the business would not exist as it does today without Fred’s involvement, his help and his support.
Good bye Fred; our community has lost one of its greats. Your kindness and generosity, and your impact on your community, will never be forgotten. You were one of a kind, a true hero, and I’ll miss you very much.