Wroute Will Drive You Between Kitchener And Guelph In A Tesla For Cheap And On A Pretty Sweet Schedule

Update: A few things have happened since I wrote this.

This is certainly interesting.

A new service called Wroute, which you’re supposed to say like “Root” because it’s the law that every startup must have a nonsensical name, is going to start offering frequent, daily Tesla rides between Fairview Mall and Guelph Central Station for $20.

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.

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.”

I like the idea. I just hope it ends up being sustainable. They’re making a ton of trips which is exactly what this sort of service should be doing to make itself attractive, but is there that much actual demand there? I hate asking that because there are times in our lives when both Carin and I would have used the bejesus out of something like this and they’re in a tight spot between overdoing it and not doing enough, but my gut says the schedule might be a touch ambitious, at least starting out. Obviously the fuel costs will be lower, but even with that working in your favour there’s only so long you can pay people full-time wages to drive themselves back and forth.

I wish them well though and look forward to trying it out sometime. I’ll bet Carin does too, especially if they’re not going to be dinks about her guide dog like the Uber folks so often are.

Update:
I wasn’t able to find it on Friday for some reason, but I’ve since found the company website. There looks to be quite a bit of information there, but you’ll want to pay particular attention to this things to know page before you take your first trip. It even has a service dogs are good and please don’t pet them section, which sounds promising and which I have no doubt Carin will totally be holding them to.

OUR FURRY FRIENDS ONLY COME ALONG WHEN THEY’RE WORKING.
We love our pets, and we’re sure we’d love yours, too. However, our passengers may have allergies that mean they can’t enjoy the journey if others bring animals along for the ride. So, we only board service animals. Remember that they are working to keep their humans safe, so resist the urge to spoil them with all the affection they totally deserve.

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12 Comments

  1. The website definitely has some cool information. I hit some accessibility fun, for example, you are expected to pick your seat and you can imagine how accessible the map is. Also, to pick your dates, you only have a datepicker, you can’t enter the date manually. The user experience is a wee smidge clunky, for example activating my account was a right royal pain in the hoop, but it’s new so I’m not gonna scream too much. Basically, I got as far as almost paying for a round trip to Guelph just to see what it looks like. It’s doable but you might punch a few screens while doing it. Also, the placement of the error messages is annoying, i.e. get ready to go hunti’n for them.

    1. Oh man.  Having to choose which seat you want sounds like enough of an accessibility nightmare that it might be a non-starter even if you take out the part where you’re having to do so for a vehicle you’ve never seen.  Not sure how you figure a way around that that doesn’t involve us having to call somebody.

      1. If they would just number the seats and grey out the taken ones, we’d be closer. They already tell you the leg room is limited in the back row. And we’re only dealing with 6 seats here, not a whole plane. So I’m not giving up hope yet. Aside: Tansy is dreaming and so distracting me.

        1. Ok, so what do you do if you need more leg room but so does everybody else on the trip you’re trying to book?

          And if somebody from the company is reading this, when she says grey out, be sure to make that fact known to screen readers used by blind people like us who can’t actually see grey.

          Wonder why Shmans is so sleepy.  Probably means she’ll be crazed when she gets home.

  2. I got a reply, but it sounded very robotic. It said, and I quote, that they would be forwarding my concern to the web development team. That would be concerns, plural, but whatever. We’ll see what happens.

    1. Seriously?  Like they just got rid of it entirely? That’s…interesting.  Did he say whether they were doing away with the whole concept or if it was gone until they find a way to replace it?

      I don’t know the ins and outs of their system of course, but it seems to me that you could accomplish essentially the same thing just by having a comments space in the booking form where you can write in things like “I’m 9 feet tall so need more room.”  The driver should be able to figure out where people should go as everyone loads in.  It’s not like there are stops along the way that are going to change the configuration once it’s set.

  3. I went on a little scouting mission on the weekend and actually got to sit in one of the Teslas! That was cool. The driver said they have been trained to recognize a service dog by the things it’s wearing and maybe ask for a card. Not perfect but it’s something. Then he said he would ask where I would like to sit. We tried sitting in the back but the seats in the front were back super far so if I did that, I would have to take up two seats because I would have to slide over. Then we sat in the front and there was tons of room. The guy I met was super nice. He said if the website was difficult when using a phone, I could just call in and book a ride. Hopefully I won’t have to test that. So yeah. I kinda sorta sorta kinda know how to find them. Here’s a stupid thing. They had their signs out but they had to take them down because they didn’t have a permit. Whaaaat? How do you get space and then not get the right permits when you have a big ol’ launch planned? I’m going to hope it’s because they’re new.

  4. And they still don’t have signs now. We took a ride in one today! The driver was really nice. They were just a wee smidge hard to find. It’s never good when you’re just standing in the middle of a random parking lot.

    1. The ride was great once we figured out where it was. They’re very cool cars and our driver was quite nice. But they definitely need signs. Aira, which is good at just about everything, couldn’t help us find them. The only reason we got there was that some dude who happened to be standing around waiting for a bus happened to overhear one of us say the word “Tesla” and then happened to know where they were and then happened to have time to show us. Not exactly ideal, that.

      And yes, Carin is correct. Blind folks plus quiet electric vehicles plus milling around in a parking lot does not a good combination equal. They need a designated place for people to stand. Maybe they can repurpose some bus shelters once GRT moves out of there.

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