New all-electric passenger service to connect Waterloo Region and Guelph
Wroute will charge $20 for trips in Tesla SUVs
NEWS Sep 12, 2018 by Brent Davis Waterloo Region Record
Wroute president Jason Hammond stands with some of the company's fleet of 10 Tesla Model X SUVs at its
Manitou Drive office. Wroute is launching a passenger transportation service between Waterloo Region and Guelph.
KITCHENER — He's got the vehicles: A fleet of 10 all-electric Tesla Model X SUVs.
He's got the staff: A team of 18 full-time employees and counting.
Now all Jason Hammond needs are the passengers.
Hammond is the president of Wroute, a new transportation service that's launching between Waterloo Region and Guelph.
Starting Sept. 22, Wroute will offer high-frequency, non-stop trips between the transit hub at Kitchener's Fairview Park mall and the central station in downtown Guelph.
"Waterloo Region and Guelph are so connected socially and economically," Hammond said. "Our transportation infrastructure right now doesn't really reflect that."
For Hammond — a former president of Community CarShare who formally launched Wroute at a Wednesday evening event in Kitchener — his main motivation in starting the company lies in combatting climate change.
"Right now, almost everyone is driving if they're making the trip between Waterloo Region and Guelph," he said. "We want to make being a passenger the right choice for more of them."
Each shared Wroute trip can carry up to six passengers and two bicycles. The all-electric Teslas run emissions-free.
Wroute (pronounced "root") is launching with an ambitious schedule that will see its vehicles departing the two stations every 15 minutes, seven days a week. The service will begin at 5 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends, winding down at 11 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and at 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
"The idea there is that instead of building your day around how you're getting to Guelph, you just fit us into your day," Hammond said.
Each one-way trip will cost $20 including tax; a reduced price for daily users may be introduced as the service grows. Reservations and payment will be made online in advance, and no tipping is required as the drivers are salaried.
By the time the service launches on Sept. 22 — World Car Free Day — Hammond expects to have about 30 full-time employees in place.
Wroute is based out of a 9,000-square-foot space in the former CAA building on Manitou Drive, with office space, an interior garage and vehicle charging facilities. Bank financing provided the means to get Wroute going, and the company is licensed in Waterloo Region and Guelph.
The company settled on that route initially because Hammond believes it's underserviced but has the demand.
"We're focusing where we're most needed," he said. Downtown Toronto, in comparison, has a lot of connections. "It's out here on the edges of the Metrolinx zone that the system starts to fray a little bit."
Other routes could be introduced in the future. Hammond said he doesn't intend for Wroute to compete with existing transit options. Rather, he believes Wroute will enhance those options, especially for commuters and students. "It sort of sits in the middle in terms of cost and convenience."
Taxis or Ubers cost more but take you door-to-door, Hammond said. Buses or trains are cheaper but don't run as often. "By filling in the gaps with this high-frequency service, we want to build up the marketplace."
Hammond said a University of Toronto transportation survey found there are 25,000 weekday trips in each direction between Waterloo Region and Guelph. "If a few per cent of those people rode with us, we'd be full up."