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

Celebrating the development of Electric Vehicles and Renewable Energy Technology with the London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally – tomorrow, Saturday 18 September

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:

  • e-bikes
  • e-motorbikes
  • city car
  • saloon car
  • SUV
  • van
  • minibus
  • bus
  • truck
  • self-built vehicles

and for the public transport category the award will be for the quickest time and the greatest number of different modes .

Covid Safety

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.

A Tribute to Freddie Harrison – a real Community Champion

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 and Tom collecting waste cooking oil from Beacon Bingo in Moulsecoomb – the first oil collection job The Big Lemon ever did

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.

The first of our new fleet of Higer STEED buses has been named ‘Freddie Harrison’ in Fred’s honour

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.

Friends and family gather for a tribute photo outside his house in Hove. Fred was a massive football fan and the bus was decorated in his honour with Spurs flags – the team he’s supported all his life

“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
Tom and Ron with Fred’s bus outside the chapel.

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.

Frederick John Harrison: June 1951 – July 2021

Lots on in July!

Sunday Walks starting tomorrow, London to Brighton EV Rally on the 18th, and our AGM on the 23rd July

The Big Lemon London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally
The Big Lemon London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally is the first of it’s kind in England – a celebration of electric vehicles and renewable energy technology, and also the launch of our new electric buses!

Sunday Walks starting tomorrow!

The Big Lemon Walks

Following a break due to Covid 19, we are resuming our Sunday Walks tomorrow, Sunday 4 July 2021. We are planning monthly walks on the first Sunday of each month up to October.

We generally take the bus out into the countryside, walk at a leisurely pace for about 3 hours taking in the scenery and finish for lunch at a nice old country pub.

Walks are between 5-7 miles long and aim to provide good exercise in beautiful country surroundings without being too strenuous, though some walks are quite hilly.

They are suitable for all ages from about 6 onwards, though younger ones are also welcome if you don’t mind carrying them part of the way! 

Tomorrow’s walk is up to Firle Beacon along the South Downs Way, finishing in Alfriston. More info here: thebiglemon.com/walks

London to Brighton EV Rally

The Big Lemon London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally is a brand new event being held for the first time in July 2021, to demonstrate and celebrate the rapid development of electric vehicles and renewable energy.

Starting on the banks of the River Thames and finishing on Brighton Beach, the event is open to participants with electric vehicles of all types, shapes and sizes, with prizes for lowest energy consumption in all classes.

The inaugural event is sponsored by EDF, and will mark the launch of our new Higer STEED electric buses (above, right!). The new buses will be taking part in the rally, along with 60 other vehicles including a number of self-built vehicles. All vehicles will be on display at the finish line at Madeira Drive, by the Brighton Zip.

Entry is still open if you want to participate, and of course you are invited to join us on Madeira Drive to our new buses cross the finish line and have a look at all the weird and wonderful machines that will be on display once they have finished the rally. There will also be a chance to drive one of our new buses! More info here: londontobrighton.org

The Big Lemon AGM

The Big Lemon AGM will be held on Friday 23rd July at 10.30am, virtually through Google Meet. Although only Shareholders are able to vote in the meeting, we invite the whole community to take part.

We will be reporting on our transition to an electric bus fleet in Brighton & Hove, and on progress at all three of our businesses: The Big Lemon Buses; Brighton Horizon Coaches; and Seaford & District Buses which we acquired at the beginning of this year.

If you’d like to join us, please email hello@thebiglemon.com

Protecting children’s health from air pollution on Clean Air Day

Today is Clean Air Day and this year sees schools, hospitals, workplaces and communities across the UK running activities and taking action to inspire people to take simple steps to protect their health, their families’ health, and children’s health from air pollution.

In line with this year’s theme ‘protect our children’s health from air pollution’, we are demonstrating our support for action on air pollution and speaking out to show how much we care about building a clean air future for our children.

Air pollution affects your health from your first breath to your last, as the damage to our health can start when we’re a baby and carry on through into old age. But poor air quality is not a fact of life. Our air pollution crisis is solvable and there are simple steps we can all take to help our family avoid toxic air and cut down on the pollution we emit – it’s good for us and good for the planet too.

The Big Lemon is supporting a Clean Air future through increasing our fleet of electric buses from nine to 16 across Brighton and Hove. That’s facilitating over 1000 extra passengers per day to travel differently and sustainably around the city.

Traffic is one of the main pollution sources in our towns and cities and The Big Lemon ‘s vision is to offer the community access to affordable, sustainable transport, using zero-emissions vehicles powered by renewable energy.

The Big Lemon has been investing heavily in electric vehicles and will launch four brand new Higer electric buses at the London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally on Sunday 18 July.

The Big Lemon is a founder partner in the rally, which aims to showcase and celebrate the rapid development of electric vehicles and renewable energy technology.

“Following the end of most lockdown restrictions congestion and air pollution has returned to our cities with a vengeance.

“As we return to our lives, we must take this opportunity to create a healthy environment for our children where they can learn and play safely.

“I’m proud that The Big Lemon has been somewhat of a pioneer in Brighton & Hove, working with the community to bring forward electric vehicle technology to combat air pollution in our city. We hope to be able to do the same in many other communities in the future to realise our vision that in 2030 every community in the UK has access to affordable public transport using zero-emissions vehicles powered by renewable energy.”

Tom Druitt, Founder & CEO, The Big Lemon

Further information on Clean Air Day is available from the Clean Air Day website www.cleanairday.org.uk

The Big Lemon’s new electric buses arrive at Southampton Docks

Following our successful application to the Department for Transport’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Fund in 2018, and with the continued support of investors in our community, we have bought four more electric buses for use in Brighton & Hove.

Last year we trialled the Higer STEED bus on all our routes. This one is seen with The Big Lemon’s Optare Solo electric bus behind, on Route 16

The buses are called STEED (an acronym of Sustainable Transport Electric Energy Delivered) and are built by Higer Bus in China and supplied by Dublin-based Harris Bus & Coach. They will be the first of their kind in the UK.

The four buses will join The Big Lemon’s existing electric fleet, which is currently:

Two Optare Solos converted from diesel to electric by Magtec in Sheffield:

Four brand new Optare Solo EVs:

Two second-hand Optare Solo EVs originally operated in Dorset:

Three second-hand Optare Versa EVs originally operated in Coventry:

And an electric minibus:

The Higer STEED demonstrator vehicle performed well on all our routes, and the four additional electric buses will enable us to run all our services with zero-emission vehicles. One of the new STEEDs is already with us, but the other three were delayed, first by Coronavirus, and then by the closure of the Suez Canal following the grounding of the Ever Given earlier this year. They arrived in Southampton on Friday.

Our first Higer STEED being delivered

The Higer STEEDs have six CATL battery packs with 174kw of stored energy and have a maximum range of 155 miles in winter (165 in summer). They have 26 passenger seats, and capacity for 22 standing passengers.

We are very excited indeed to be imminently launching four brand new electric buses, as part of our transition to a fully electric fleet, ensuring all our bus services can be operated by zero-emission buses.

Air quality is a huge issue in Brighton & Hove, and The Big Lemon is committed to a fully zero-emissions electric fleet this year.

We are very grateful to our passengers, our investors, and of course our incredible staff team who have worked hard to make this possible.

I would also like to thank Chris Haughton, General Manager of Harris Bus & Coach for all his help, and Denise Harris, CEO, for all her support.

And to our community here in Brighton & Hove and supporters across the UK, thank you for believing in us and supporting us; The Big Lemon is leading the way in zero-emissions sustainable transport and it’s thanks to you.

Tom Druitt, founder & CEO, The BIg Lemon
Higer Bus with L2BEVR branding

The four new buses will be launched at The Big Lemon’s inaugural London to Brighton Electric Vehicle Rally on Sunday 18th July, sponsored by EDF.

Could you be The Big Lemon’s Operations Manager?

The Big Lemon Community Interest Company is a sustainable transport operator based in Brighton & Hove that runs a fleet of 20 buses on local bus services. The company is a social enterprise owned by members of the community and our work is guided by our core values of community, sustainability and innovation.

The Big Lemon is a small (but growing!) organisation with a big vision: that by 2030 every community in the UK has access to affordable public transport, run with zero-emission emissions powered by renewable energy and owned by the local community. Currently The Big Lemon’s main focus is the transition of its fleet from diesel to electric as part of this vision.

The Big Lemon is looking for an Operations Manager who shares our values; with a passion for leading, motivating and supporting a team to reach its potential and deliver outstanding services to our passengers. The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate how their values guide their decision-making and how they can bring people together to achieve a shared goal. They will also be able to demonstrate effective financial discipline and a good level of commercial awareness.

The Big Lemon’s Operations Manager will be responsible for the recruitment, training, supervision and wellbeing of our team; the quality of service to our passengers and customers; reporting against KPIs; and compliance with all relevant transport and health & safety legislation. They will also act as the Transport Manager and the Responsible Person with regard to Health & Safety, as well as an Appointed Person for First Aid at Work.

The successful candidate will be able be able to demonstrate:

  • an ability to create good relationships, build rapport and earn respect: a good leader and a people person
  • operational expertise including experience as a bus driver and a manager (management experience can be at any level and in any industry)
  • experience managing systems to achieve business goals and maintain compliance with regulations
  • commercial acumen: an ability to think on your feet, respond to changing situations and make the most of opportunities
  • calmness under pressure: an ability to troubleshoot effectively and make the most of challenging situations

The successful candidate will also have a PCV licence (Cat D); and will either have, or be willing to undertake, a Transport Manager CPC (National Passenger Transport) and a First Aid at Work qualification.

Normal hours of work will be 0830 – 1700 Monday to Friday including a 30 min lunch break. Starting salary will be £35,000, or £40,000 if the successful candidate is already a qualified Transport Manager. Other benefits include statutory holiday, pension and sick pay, and free membership of the Transport Benevolent Fund.  The Big Lemon is an Equal Opportunities Employer committed to diversity in the workplace.

To request further information or to apply for the role please email tom@thebiglemon.com with a CV and covering letter outlining relevant experience and what makes you the right person for the role.

Closing date for applications: 5pm Friday 12 February 2021

For the Operations Manager Role Description, please click here

Seaford & District joins The Big Lemon family

The Founder and Managing Director of Seaford & District Motor Services has taken a step towards retirement with the sale of the company to The Big Lemon. David Mulpeter, who started the company in 2010 and has built up an operation spanning bus and coach services, engineering, sightseeing and heritage buses, took his first step towards retirement last August with the sale of the coach operation which together with The Big Lemon’s own coach operation, created Brighton Horizon Coaches.

In a heartfelt message to staff, David said

“Seaford and District was created by me 10½ years ago and has grown steadily over this time to which I am very proud of, and has a good reputation. The business needs continual energy to enable it to grow further which I feel I can no longer do.  I would like to thank each and every one of you for helping in the building of the business and know that under the guidance and energy of Tom and Ryan it will continue to do so.

Seaford & District will maintain a separate identity and The Big Lemon’s Coach Manager, Ryan Wrotny, will take on the day to day management as Managing Director of Seaford & District and Brighton Horizon Coaches. As Group CEO, The Big Lemon founder Tom Druitt will look at how the different companies can work together to share best practice and improve services across Sussex.

In a joint letter to Seaford & District staff, Tom and Ryan said,

“We are excited and delighted to have been given this opportunity by Dave Mulpeter to work with you all to take Seaford & District Motor Services through the next stage of its journey.

We have worked closely with Dave for a number of years and he has been a real pleasure to work with, always willing to do whatever he can to help another operator out. And it’s clear that these values are shared by the whole company. We have both been inspired by Dave’s work and impressed by the growth of Seaford & District, and the quality of the services Seaford provides. Our shared values led to us joining forces last summer to create Brighton Horizon Coaches from the coach operations of Seaford & District and The Big Lemon.

It’s a great honour to be given the opportunity to take Seaford & District forward and we are really looking forward to working with you all. The team spirit at Seaford is clearly very strong, the fleet is smart and well-respected and there is a huge amount of potential to grow the business further and improve bus services for the wider community in Sussex.

Ryan will take on the day to day management of Seaford & District as Managing Director and Transport Manager, working closely with the whole team alongside the same role at Brighton Horizon Coaches. The two companies will maintain separate identities but will support each other by working together when they can.

Tom will take a keen interest in the longer term development of the company and is especially interested in how Seaford & District, Brighton Horizon and The Big Lemon can work together to offer better transport options across Sussex.

Tom and Ryan will work closely together as co-directors  to ensure the long-term health of the business, the wellbeing of the whole team and the quality of service we provide to our passengers. Seaford & District has a fantastic reputation in the industry and we are keen to build on that and are looking forward to working with you all to take the business to the next level.

We are very grateful to Dave and to all of you for this opportunity and are looking forward to getting stuck in.”

Temporary suspension of all services: 5 January 2021

Urgent message to all our passengers at 1430 on 5 January 2021:

One of our team has sadly tested positive for Coronavirus. We have been clear from the beginning that the safety and wellbeing of our staff and our passengers is the most important thing for us, and as a result we are taking the following steps as a precaution:

  • We have instructed all our drivers to complete the trips that they are currently driving and then to bring all the buses back to the depot
  • All our drivers will then get an NHS Covid test
  • All our vehicles will be deep-cleaned and fogged
  • Our offices will also be deep-cleaned and fogged
  • Staff will be able to return to work when they confirm a negative test result.

We will not run any services until this process has been completed. This means no services for the rest of today and no services tomorrow. We are hoping to run at least a limited service on Thursday and by Friday we hope to be back to normal.

We apologise to all our passengers affected and ask that anyone who is stuck as a result of the buses not running please call the office on 01273 681681 and we will book a taxi for you.

Thank you for your understanding, take care and we will update this website and social media as soon as we get more information.

Tom and the Team at The Big Lemon

Useful phone numbers:

Brighton & Hove City Council Public Transport Team: 01273 292480

Brighton & Hove Buses: 01273 886200

Compass Bus: 01903 690025

CityCabs Taxis: 01273 205205

Streamline Taxis: 01273 202020

Brighton & Hove Community Transport: 01273 677559

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Big Lemon’s bus services in Brighton & Hove return to pre-Covid timetables

Following 6 months of reduced services operating due to the Coronavirus we are excited to announce that today, Monday 5th October, all our bus services return to their previous timetables; apart from a few small improvements that we have taken this opportunity to make:

  • Route 16 has a slightly amended timetable so that journeys from Portslade Health Centre to Hangleton leave on the hour, and services from West Blatchington School towards Portslade leave 30 mins past the hour.
  • Routes 47A and 52A have been extended to the King’s School in Hangleton, and the 47A has also been extended in the other direction to start from East Saltdean.

Routes and Timetables can be found here:

Route 16

Routes 47 & 47A

Routes 52 & 52A

Route 57

Services 47A and 52A are available to members of the public as far as Brighton Station; after this they are reserved for schoolchildren in order to maximise capacity. On school services, in line with Government guidance students can use all seats on the bus, but there will be no standing capacity.

To enable all passengers to travel safely, passengers aged 11 and over are expected to wear face coverings unless they are exempt. Our drivers carry medical-grade masks on all buses for passengers who need one.

CEO Tom Druitt said

“We are delighted that following the reduced services of the the last 6 months we are now able to return services to normal, and would like to thank Brighton & Hove Buswatch, the Public Transport officers at Brighton & Hove City Council, and of course our own team who have worked very hard to make it possible.

Passenger safety is at the forefront of our minds and we have put in place a number of measures to keep our passengers safe:

  • Our vehicles are “fogged” every 28 days; this is a process where the interiors are sprayed with a fine mist that kills over 99.9% of viruses and provides a protective layer that protects surfaces on the vehicle against viruses for 28 days.
  • Our vehicles are also deep-cleaned daily including all touchable surfaces
  • We have installed protective screens on the vehicles to protect passengers and staff
  • We have installed terminals in all vehicles to allow contactless payments
  • We are restricting capacity to 50% to enable social distancing
  • We have signage at the entrance to our buses to remind people to wear a mask, and our drivers carry a supply with them on the bus for anyone who needs one.”

All The Big Lemon’s public bus services in Brighton & Hove have the same fares as Brighton & Hove Buses and Compass Bus, and CitySaver tickets bought on The Big Lemon are valid on all Brighton & Hove Buses and Compass Bus services in Brighton & Hove. We also accept CitySaver tickets issued by other bus companies, as well as:

Return of the 16, the 47A and the 52A, with extra services for schools

Following the disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic (and in preparation for schools reopening at the end of this week) we are delighted to announce that Route 16 serving Hangleton, the Knoll Estate and Portslade shops will be returning tomorrow, 1st September, along with School services 47A and 52A and extra school services in the afternoons.

Following popular demand the 47A and 52A have also been extended to Kings School in Hangleton, and the 47A has also been extended to start from Saltdean. This means that now there is a direct bus service from Saltdean, Rottingdean, Woodingdean, Ovingdean, Roedean, East Brighton and Kemptown village to BHASVIC, Cardinal Newman, Blatchington Mill, Hove Park and Kings School.

Routes and Timetables can be found here:

Route 16

Routes 47 & 47A

Routes 52 & 52A

Services 47A and 52A are available to members of the public as far as Brighton Station; after this they are reserved for schoolchildren in order to maximise capacity. On school services, in line with Government guidance students can use all seats on the bus, but there will be no standing capacity.

To enable all passengers to travel safely, passengers aged 11 and over are expected to wear face coverings unless they are exempt. Our drivers carry medical-grade masks on all buses for passengers who need one.

All our public bus services in Brighton & Hove have the same fares as Brighton & Hove Buses and Compass Bus, and CitySaver tickets bought on The Big Lemon are valid on all Brighton & Hove Buses and Compass Bus services in Brighton & Hove. We also accept CitySaver tickets issued by other bus companies, as well as:

The Big Lemon launches Brighton Horizon Coaches, a new coach company for Brighton & Hove

We are delighted to announce that today we have joined forces with another local independent bus operator Seaford & District to create an international coach operator called Brighton Horizon Coaches. The new brand launched today at a special ceremony at the Peace Statue on Brighton & Hove’s seafront.

The new company brings together the experience of The Big Lemon and Seaford & District to create a brand focussed on quality and innovation

The Big Lemon first entered the coach industry by chance, when in early 2008 someone asked if they could hire a Big Lemon bus for a day trip to London. The trip went ahead, and the company was soon doing regular trips and later that year bought a coach to dedicate to private hire full time.  Since then the coach fleet has grown to seven vehicles and services include school and college services, private coach hire, festival coaches, day trips, sports fixtures, airport transfers and rail replacement coaches.

In recent years The Big Lemon has invested heavily in the fleet, which has transformed from a rather aged fleet to one with modern luxury coaches, including two fully wheelchair-accessible coaches. The tie-up with Seaford & District will make the new company Brighton & Hove’s largest coach operator with a fleet of 11 coaches; with four fully wheelchair-accessible.

The Big Lemon coaches and Seaford & District coaches will all be re-branded as Brighton Horizon Coaches

Founder and CEO Tom Druitt said

“The Big Lemon and Seaford & District have worked together for a number of years, helping each other out when needed and working together wherever possible to improve services to our passengers. We share many of the same values and at the end of the day both of us have always been 100% focused on our customers and providing them with the best possible experience. Seaford & District is run by real transport enthusiasts who care deeply about the quality of their work and I’m delighted that we have been able to work with them to create a new coach company that brings together the best of what we have to offer, with a combination of quality and innovation that’s truly unique in the local coach market. 

“On a personal note, I’m incredibly proud of our Coach Manager Ryan Wrotny who joined us as a 13 year old boy having saved up his pocket money to buy a share in the company. He has worked hard ever since that day, first of all helping me wash buses and run the office, then training as a bus driver and driving our 52 bus for two years; and finally passing his Transport Managers’ Certificate of Professional Competence in International Passenger Transport and taking on the operation of our coach services. He has done a fantastic job, building new relationships, improving the fleet, and developing the team. Ryan will now lead the new company Brighton Horizon Coaches and has already shared with me some very exciting plans. I wish him the very best of luck and will always be here to support him.”

Ryan Wrotny (L), Tom Druitt (C) and David Mulpeter (R)

David Mulpeter, Managing Director of Seaford & District said

I am delighted that the new Brighton Horizon Coaches will carry on and grow further what we have built up over the last 5 years with our coaching side of the business here at Seaford and District . This restructure will enable Seaford and District to focus further on our nucleus of school , sightseeing and heritage Vehicle works streams.

This decision was not taken lightly and much thought was given to it but following personal circumstances of the sudden passing of my wife the time is right to pass the baton. I wish all the team at Brighton Horizon Coaches good luck for the future.”

Ryan Wrotny, the new Manager of Brighton Horizon Coaches said

“I’m very excited about this opportunity, bringing together the best of two well-known coach operators. My vision is to take the best of Brighton and expand to new horizons. I’m proud of my city and want to provide professional, reliable, luxury coach travel to its people, taking them to new places. I never want to stop growing, developing, and exploring, and I’m excited to have this opportunity to create something we can all be proud of.” 

The combined coaching team

Brighton Horizon Coaches offers 29 seater and 49 seater vehicles with full air conditioning and is licenced to operate across the UK and Europe. The new coach company can also be found on Facebook @brightonhorizoncoaches, Twitter @brightoncoaches and Instagram @brightonhorizoncoaches.