Student business tackles travel market

‘The Kingston Rocket’ to offer students bus trips to and from Toronto for $25 each way

The Kingston Rocket will begin selling tickets Sept. 9.
The Kingston Rocket will begin selling tickets Sept. 9.

A new student-led business venture is set to rival popular transportation companies, including the Tricolour Express and Megabus.

The Kingston Rocket, a low-cost busing service, was started by second-year Commerce students Bill Mei and Darren Cole, who met through their first year commerce classes.

Mei and Cole created the company to solve what they believe to be problems with the transportation and busing options within Kingston and on Queen’s campus.

“I don’t feel like there are enough options,” Mei said. “We’re really trying to bring more options to students and really give students a choice in how they want to get home.”

Kingston Rocket will be offering a one-way trip between Kingston and Toronto for $25 dollars flat. A Tricolour Express a one-way ticket costs $42.94 with tax and a Megabus ticket can cost anywhere between $10 for tickets bought in advance and online to $44.97 when purchasing a ticket at the terminal.

“The Rocket runs at the most convenient times at the same price every time and only needs to be booked at least a week in advance,” Mei said. “We’re keeping it simple. No hidden fees, no extra charges.”

To keep costs down, the company will be renting school busses (rather than coach busses) from an existing chartering company whose name has yet to be released.

Their new company draws inspiration from the student-run busing service called the FedBus at the University of Waterloo, which is a part of Waterloo’s Federation of Students.

Initially, the Rocket will only run on Fridays and Sundays. During their start-up, the Rocket buses will only run on major holidays and only from Kingston to downtown Toronto.

Megabus tickets can be purchased for anytime during the week, but Tricolour runs only on the weekends as well. In the last academic year, students traveled with Tricolour over 13,000 times.

Both Megabus and Tricolour offer trips to several places like Ottawa and Montreal in addition to Toronto.

Mei said they’re looking at eventually making possible stops in Scarborough or Ajax.

They hope to eventually expand further to common destinations such as Ottawa, Montreal and Hamilton.

Pickup for the Kingston Rocket will be on main campus and drop off will be at Union Station. The Tricolour Express also departs from campus, while Megabus leaves from the Kingston bus terminal on John Counter Blvd.

Although it has yet to operate, Kingston Rocket has reached over 1,000 sign-ups and counting since it first launched in the middle of August.

The sign-up system allowed Mei and Cole to gauge the response to the Rocket; they said the response so far has been greater than they expected to meet their cost projections. Those who signed up will receive email updates about the company.

Tickets will become available starting Sept. 9 on the company’s website. Everything, including payments, will be done online through a third party server.

“The Tricolour Express is losing money,” Mei said, referring to the service's past deficits.

Tricolour ran a deficit of approximately $7,000 last academic year - an improvement from the 2010-11 deficit of $48,000.

“We feel that competition from the Kingston Rocket will not have a significant impact on Tricolour Express,” AMS Retail Director Alvin Suen told the Journal via email.

This article has been updated to reflect the following correction: Students' tuition doesn't cover the Tricolour Express's deficit. Incorrect information appeared in the Sept. 7 issue of the Journal. The Journal regrets the error.


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