Scrapped Bristol community bus routes set to be saved by Brighton operator

The solar-powered electric buses will take over on October 3

Four vital Bristol community bus services cut earlier this month have been saved by a Brighton-based operator.

The Big Lemon has confirmed it has applied to the Traffic Commissioner for a licence to operate in the West of England.

Subject to that licence being granted, the Brighton company will be running the routes 505 (Long Ashton Park and Ride to Southmead), 506 (Broadmead to Southmead), 515 (Imperial Park to Stockwood) and 516 (Broad Walk to Hengrove Park) from Monday, October 3.

The services had previously been run by Bristol Community Transport which collapsed last month, leaving many elderly and disabled residents without the Dial-a-Ride service and community minibuses.

With their bright yellow vehicles now a regular sight on Brighton roads, The Big Lemon have won awards for their solar-powered electric buses and originally ran them using recycled waste cooking oil from local restaurants.

The Big Lemon buses are coming to Bristol next month

Started in 2006, the Community Interest Company was set up to provide affordable and environmentally-sustainable bus services in the local area.

The Big Lemon now operates six local bus services in the Brighton area and also national coach services including one to the Glastonbury Festival.

The Big Lemon is working with the West of England Combined Authority, to provide the Bristol services and say fares will be announced prior to launch of the services.

Multi-operator ‘Rider’ tickets will also be accepted on the buses.

Under the proposal, many of the drivers from Bristol Community Transport will retain their jobs and now be employed by The Big Lemon, which is also advertising for qualified PSV drivers to drive the routes 505, 506, 515 and 516.

It comes after company Transpora Group took over BCT’s number 52 service, operating it from Monday this week. The m1 has already been saved by Firstbus and the 511 and 512 by Eurotaxis. Mayor Dan Norris said: “As soon as the bad news came through that Bristol Community Transport was cutting all its buses, the West of England Authority I lead got down to work to try to find a solution.

“There was always money on the table, and I promised we would leave no stone unturned. I am delighted these efforts have paid off for the 505, 506, 515 and 516 as well as 52, 511 and m1 services: this is a really, really positive step forward”.