Brighton bus company the Big Lemon has announced the start of a new coach business in a link up with a transport firm from Seaford.
The new business is called Brighton Horizon Coaches. It has a fleet of 11 luxury vehicles, which meet the Euro 6 emissions standard. Four of the coaches are wheelchair accessible.
The coach company will be run by 25-year-old Ryan Wrotny who hopes that he can blend the firms’ traditional business with Uber-style technology to make booking tickets more customer friendly.
He joined the staff of the Big Lemon 10 years ago and had also spent time helping out at Seaford and District Motor Services.
He said: “To bring these two companies together is like a dream come true.”
Big Lemon boss Tom Druitt said: “I’m delighted to announce that the Big Lemon has teamed up with Seaford and District to launch an international coach operator called Brighton Horizon Coaches.
“We’ll be able to take more people in more coaches to more places.
“The new brand launches today at a special ceremony at the Peace Statue on Brighton and Hove’s seafront.
“The Big Lemon first entered the coach industry by chance, when in early 2008 someone asked if they could hire a Big Lemon bus for a day trip to London.
“The trip went ahead and the company was soon doing regular trips and later that year bought a coach to dedicate to private hire full time.
“Since then the coach fleet has grown to seven vehicles and services include school and college services, private coach hire, festival coaches, day trips, sports fixtures, airport transfers and rail replacement coaches.
“In recent years the Big Lemon has invested heavily in the fleet, which has transformed from a rather aged fleet to one with modern luxury coaches, including two fully wheelchair-accessible coaches.
“The tie-up with Seaford and District will make the new company Brighton and Hove’s largest coach operator with a fleet of 11 coaches, with four fully wheelchair-accessible.
“The Big Lemon and Seaford and District have worked together for a number of years, helping each other out when needed and working together wherever possible to improve services to our passengers.
“We share many of the same values and at the end of the day both of us have always been 100 per cent focused on our customers and providing them with the best possible experience.
“Seaford and District is run by real transport enthusiasts who care deeply about the quality of their work and I’m delighted that we have been able to work with them to create a new coach company that brings together the best of what we have to offer, with a combination of quality and innovation that’s truly unique in the local coach market.
“On a personal note, I’m incredibly proud of our coach manager Ryan Wrotny who joined us as a 13-year-old boy, having saved up his pocket money to buy a share in the company.
“He has worked hard ever since that day, first of all helping me wash buses and run the office, then training as a bus driver and driving our 52 bus for two years – and finally passing his Transport Managers’ Certificate of Professional Competence in International Passenger Transport and taking on the operation of our coach services.
“He has done a fantastic job, building new relationships, improving the fleet, and developing the team.
“Ryan will now lead the new company Brighton Horizon Coaches and has already shared with me some very exciting plans. I wish him the very best of luck and will always be here to support him.”
Mr Wrotny, who went to Portslade Community College, now PACA (Portslade Aldridge Community Academy), said: “Brighton is my home and the city I love – and my vision is to take the best of Brighton and expand to new horizons.
“I’m proud of my city and want to provide professional, reliable, luxury coach travel to its people, taking them to new places.
“I never want to stop growing, developing, and exploring – and I’m excited to have this opportunity to create something we can all be proud of.”
The new company said: “Brighton Horizon Coaches offers 29-seater and 49-seater vehicles with full air conditioning and is licensed to operate across the UK and Europe.”
Seaford and District boss Dave Mulpeper said: “Bringing young talent into the industry is vital.”
And Mr Druitt thanked his drivers and other staff, saying: “We couldn’t have done this without everyone’s help over the years.”