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Bright bid for bus franchise
10:45am Monday 16th October 2006 in News
A young entrepreneur is making an audacious bid to launch a bus company, even though he has only one double-decker bus.
Tom Druitt, 28, has vowed to take on what he sees as the "monopoly" of Brighton and Hove Buses with his company The Big Lemon.
Mr Druitt, of Norfolk Street, Brighton, is having his bus painted bright yellow. By next year he hopes to have three vehicles ready to run through the city.
The former care home manager is confident his scheme will be a success even though he has yet to obtain a Category D driving licence and still needs permission to operate a bus company.
He said: "I am not intending to fight Brighton and Hove.
I think they provide a good service if you live a long way from work or the shops.
Coming from Newhaven on a saver ticket is good value but if you go from Norfolk Square to Palmeira Square, a five minute walk, it's £1.50. There needs to be an alternative."
Mr Druitt, who said he has eight or nine investors interested, bought his bus on the internet. He wants the business to be carbonneutral and run the buses on biodiesel.
Until June this year, he was manager at Swanborough House in Whitehawk, a care home for adults with brain injuries. He has since completed a course at the Freight Transport Association in Wadhurst.
Mr Druitt would eventually like to have 16 buses on routes in Sussex.
He plans to start next year with a 25-minute route in Brighton, running once an hour.
Roger French, managing director of Brighton and Hove Bus Company, said: "Competition is a good thing because it gives people a choice and keeps operators on their toes."
Dominic Ponniah, owner of TucTuc Ltd, said: "I think it is a very good idea. From our point of view, we are all for choice and better service."
A public meeting about The Big Lemon will be held in the Cricketers pub, Black Lion Street, Brighton, tomorrow from 7.30pm.