Concerns have been raised by the Big Lemon bus company regarding the “difficult behaviour” of certain passengers, principally students of both of the city’s universities, aboard its services.
On Wednesday nights, The Big Lemon provides free transport for the Students’ Union Sports clubs from campus to Oceana, where their weekly club night is held.
This is part of a scheme on behalf of the company to get more involved with university life and to give its passengers, most of whom are students, a better experience.
Recently, however, The Big Lemon has reported “an increase in difficult behaviour”, and has claimed that its drivers have been verbally abused whilst making attempts to resolve these situations.
As a result, Scott Sheridan, the Students’ Union Activities Officer, and Terry Preston, the University of Brighton Students’ Union Activities and Events Officer, met with night bus drivers last week to discuss the misconduct of students and to help find a solution.
Allegedly, there have been more incidents over the last four weeks than over the whole of the three and a half years that the service has operated.
Although details of what this “difficult behaviour” has entailed are not forthcoming, sources indicate that passengers have been urinating into bottles whilst aboard Wednesday night services as part of a ‘game’, and there are further, unconfirmed reports that human faeces were found on the bus.
However, the bus company says that the misconduct “has not been confined to Wednesday nights, but is more of a worrying trend [developing] throughout the week”.
Amid worries that this misconduct could lead to the discontinuation of the Wednesday night service, Keith Thacke, The Big Lemon’s Bus Services Manager, said that: “We have always had a good, relaxed relationship with our student customers and wish this to continue.
“We have no plans to suspend the Wednesday night freebie but would urge everyone who travels with us throughout the week to remember that we are here for your benefit – to give you a good time and get you to town safely without burning a hole in your pocket.
“So please look after the drivers so they can look after you – thank you!”
The Students’ Union released a statement condemning the rise in anti-social incidents aboard the bus services, commenting that: “Ever since it’s establishment, The Big Lemon and the Students’ Union have had a great working relationship.
“The Big Lemon provides an amazing sustainable and student-friendly service to Sussex students, and the Students’ Union will not tolerate anti-social behavior that jeopardises the continuation of our working relationship or even the service as a whole.
“The Students’ Union is currently working closely with the Big Lemon to prevent further incidences, and is now committed to ensure disciplinary action is sought if appropriate, against those involved, either internally or within the University Disciplinary Procedure.”