From The Argus –
THE first fleet of electric buses in the country is almost ready to take to the roads after enough funds have been raised to complete the project.
The Big Lemon previously received Government funding and has now raised the £405,000 needed to add three new electric buses to its fleet, which serves the people of Brighton and Hove.
The company, which was founded in 2007, is expecting its fleet of six buses to be up and running by autumn after initial test runs are carried out along certain routes.
Tom Druitt, founder and CEO of The Big Lemon, said: “I am thrilled to bits that the money has been raised so quickly.
“We have had 128 investors in total. They have been investing anything from £100 to £20,000.
“We have asked people why they are investing and the most common response is because they see it as the way things should be going.
“It will be the first in the country. It is a small network but a great start.
“We are always looking at the next step.
“We run various other services as well and are keen to run all these on electric as well.
“We have got lots of plans and are looking at what kind of different services we can offer alongside the public bus routes.
“This includes potentially more effectively routed and on demand services.”
The zero-emissions buses, which are fitted with solar panels, will be able to serve the whole route planned by the company once the fleet is finished.
The company set up a bond offer to attract investment for the project last month and after raising the funds needed, it will now be looking to raise an additional £135,000 to fund an extra bus for the fleet.
One of the buses in the current fleet was a retrofit funded by the Clean Bus Fund and the three new additions to the fleet will be 138kWh Optare Solo electric buses.
The company set about raising the money after being awarded £513,000 from the DfT’s Low Emission Bus scheme.
With high levels of air pollution in mind, the company wants every community across the country to have access to a similar scheme by 2030.
For more information about the project or to invest and help the company fund a seventh bus for the fleet, visit thebiglemon.com/electric.