Tapping into local concerns

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The Big Lemon initiated their community bus service after identifying local transport problems that needed addressing. They tried to identify who within the community was feeling the ‘pain’ and how much they would be willing to pay to make the ‘pain’ go away. There were over 1600 students at the Universities of Brighton and Sussex who were feeling pain from bus fare rises.  Students had organised a petition against the fare increases, and for many of them the pain was enough to warrant a one day on-the-bus protest. They bought day tickets, filled a number of double-deck buses and stayed on the bus all day.  The buses had to keep running their scheduled timetable, but they could not take any other passengers and consequently spent the day turning people away, losing money and generating customer complaints. This rather extreme action did not, however, have any effect on bus fares in the short term, but it provided fertile ground for The Big Lemon to start building a relationship with the student population, and as a result the two universities now have a cheaper, more sustainable bus service run for and by the community.