AN ECO-bus service will be venturing into different areas to reach more passengers.

The Big Lemon will be driving into uncharted territory this week with the launch of a new style flexible bus route.

It is designed to appeal to a wider audience and make council-supported bus services less reliant on public funds.

The service will be trialled in Hangleton on the number 16 bus route, operated by The Big Lemon on behalf of Brighton and Hove City Council.

Founder and chief executive of The Big Lemon Tom Druitt said: “Funding for bus services in England and Wales has almost halved since 2010 and over 300 bus services have been reduced or withdrawn altogether as a result.

“Buses are a lifeline for so many people and when services are lost many in our communities become isolated, lonely and less independent.”

Mr Druitt said air quality in cities has become more dangerous to breathe and climate change is more imminent, making sustainable transport more necessary.

He said: “We are lucky in Brighton and Hove that there is a broad consensus on the importance of bus services and funding has been largely maintained.

“However the pressures on services are growing and it is becoming more and more urgent to reduce reliance on subsidies to give services a sustainable future.

“We hope that by offering a flexible service we can appeal to people who don’t currently use the buses.

If successful, Mr Druitt hopes this could offer a solution to many of the areas where funding reductions have resulted in the loss of services.

The service will be available on demand from any bus stop in Hangleton and will run from 8.30am to 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday.

Initially the service will be called by telephone to a dedicated phone line, but if the trial is successful there are plans to create an app that shows where the bus is currently on a map and enables people to hail it through the app.

The service will run from Hangleton via the Knoll Estate to Portslade Station and Portslade Health Centre and then return to Hangleton, dropping people off again at any bus stop the passenger chooses.