I took a journey on a rescued bus service in Bristol this week - and paid for my fare using a lemon!

Bus operator Big Lemon is marking the launch of its services in Bristol with an unusual fare

It isn't every day you find yourself standing at a bus stop hoping a lemon will get you on board.

But there I was, waiting for the newly-launched Big Lemon service to pick me up from Imperial Park in Hartcliffe.

"You better pray they accept it otherwise you've got a long walk home," said Jean, one of the others waiting on the 515, which was reinstated by the Brighton-based bus company this week.

She was in her 70s and I had just told her she could board the bus for free if she could show the driver a lemon.

The Big Lemon’s 515 service.

"That's assuming the service hasn't been cut midway through the drivers round," she joked.

"It's a clever idea but I'm just happy to be out and about again, it's good the community services have been saved."

The Big Lemon bus operator has picked up the four services axed by Bristol Community Transport (BCT) - the 505 (Long Ashton Park and Ride to Southmead), 506 (Broadmead to Southmead), 515 (Imperial Park to Stockwood) and 516 (Broad Walk to Hengrove Park).

But many of its drivers have trained their jobs and are employed by The Big Lemon, which is also advertising for qualified PSV drivers.

And to celebrate the launch, passengers this week were taking a ride on the house - by showing drivers a lemon up until October 9.

Onboard the Big Lemon bus

The bus arrived, and Jean and I continued our conversation about how important the buses are to her.

"At my age, you need to keep active, get out of the house and meet with people while they're still here.

"I come down to Imperial Park to get a coffee with friends, with no buses getting me here I don't think I can continue doing so, which is a shame."

The Big Lemon also runs six routes in Brighton and is known for the community spirit shared between its drivers and passengers.

Alongside the four community bus routes, the Big Lemon has also picked up the Dial A Ride service previously operated by Bristol Community Transport.

During my short trip to Asda Whitchurch, a healthy number of passengers filed into the single-decker - though it was just me sitting holding a lemon!

For more information on the services, visit https://thebiglemon.com/bristol/