Bus company’s bid to run its network on electric

Tom Druitt behind the wheel of one of The Big Lemon's electric buses
Tom Druitt behind the wheel of one of The Big Lemon's electric buses

Eco-friendly bus company The Big Lemon is fundraising to make its public bus network entirely electric.

And in just under two weeks, the company has raised half its £405,000 target to make its dreams a reality.

Last year it launched its first solar-powered bus, but after picking up a contract to run six bus routes from Brighton and Hove City Council, it wants all of its vehicles to be powered by the sun.

The community-interest company has two electric buses in operation, with £114,000 in council funding to retrofit a third, and £500,000 from the Department for Transport to part-fund three new electric buses.

And it announced a Solar Bus Bond asking for the public’s help to raise £405,000 to fund the rest of the cost.

If it hits the target, the three buses will be built by British bus manufacturer Optare and enter into service in the autumn.

Tom Druitt, the founder of The Big Lemon, said: “This would be the first fully-electric operation in the country.”

Earlier this month, Mr Druitt set a challenge to drive ‘Om Shanti’, one of the electric buses, along the entire public service bus route with passengers.

The Big Lemon runs the number 16, 47, 52, 56, 57 and 66 services, which include Portslade, Hangleton, Patcham, Hollingbury, Woodingdean, Ovingdean, Rottingdean and Saltdean, and provide connections to Seven Dials, Brighton Station, the city centre, London Road, Fiveways, Kemptown, the Hospital and Brighton Marina.

“It demonstrated we can run all these routes with electric buses,” Mr Druitt said. “At the end we had 35 per cent left on the battery. It demonstrates what the electric bus can do.”

“We are committed to running all our Brighton and Hove bus services with electric buses by the end of the year to tackle the terrible air quality issues in the city, and are calling on members of the public to get involved”

The company has issued the Solar Bus Bonds to members of the public to part-fund the new electric buses, offering a five per cent return on a five-year investment.

To find out more, visit: www.thebiglemon.com/electric

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