The Big Lemon, a bus service frequently used by Brighton and Sussex University students, has been shortlisted for a Public Service Award by Brighton and Hove City Council in the Best Sustainability Award category.

The Big Lemon aims to provide a sustainable service and reduce carbon footprint while offering sustainable fare prices. As the judging panel makes the decision the nominees will be rated against strict criteria looking at issues surrounding environmental action and sustainability. The results will be announced at an event held at the Grand Hotel on 15 November.

Managing Director Tom Druitt said “We’re all chuffed to bits that we’ve been shortlisted, and very glad that the Council is recognizing the work people are doing to make Brighton & Hove a more sustainable city”.
The Big Lemon’s users indeed appreciate the services  it provides. Psychology student Marta Morgan was thrilled at the news: ‘I love the Lemon Bus, it’s not only cheaper but also more environmentally sustainable! I always choose it as my form of transport to uni! Thank you Lemon Bus!’

The Big Lemon, as a community interest company, recently launched a Give Something Back scheme through which 50% of profits from the first Sunday of each month are donated to an organization chosen by voters on the Big Lemon’s website. The first GSB event happened on Sunday the 7th of November and will now be run every month.

The scheme was successfully piloted last year, this time, however, the Big Lemon’s passengers get to decide how much they want to donate and to whom. On GSB days there will be no fixed prices for tickets, instead the passengers will be asked to donate an amount of money depending on their individual choice. Pasengers are able to e-mail the Big Lemon suggesting an organization or group that should be getting the money. The final decision will depend on public votes on the Big Lemon’s website.

Tim Warin, Community Liason Officer at the Big Lemon, stressed that this change in project allows the community to have voice and be in charge of how much money the donate and what happens with it.

He said: “We don’t want passengers to give more than they think is fair, so ownership of this project is firmly in the hands of our passengers, and that’s how we want it to stay.”

The other 50 percent of donations collected in the day will be contributed to the Big Lemon Staff Social Fund. Warin hopes that this way the service users will be able to express their appreciation for the staff and drivers. He explained: ‘as well as supporting community groups and giving passengers the chance to show their appreciation to the staff at the company, Give Something Back also allows people who are otherwise unable to afford to use bus services the chance to get about.’

According to the Big Lemon’s statistics, 150,000 passengers used the service since September which adds up to 20,000 users a week on average. The management hopes that by the end of the year the total number will reach 1 million passengers

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