The London Rocket crashed before it was able to get off the ground.
The student-led shuttle program, which had hopes of transporting students and members of the public from London to Toronto, announced Tuesday it has ceased operations, citing a “legal dispute initiated by one of our direct competitors.”
The competitor, Greyhound Canada, declined comment to Metro. A spokesperson said it is company policy to refrain from speaking to the media about legal matters.
Brett Heron and Nancy Li, a pair of Western University students, are the creators of London Rocket. Their plans were to offer a low-cost alternative to traditional transit companies, such as Greyhound and Via Rail.
“We’re 19-year-old students,” a statement from London Rocket to customers reads. “We don’t have money for lawyers and we don’t have the resources to defend ourselves.”
Heron, Li, and another London Rocket rep, all declined comment and are keeping the Greyhound-issued cease-and-desist letter out of the public eye.
Ajay Woozageer, a spokesperson for the provincial Ministry of Transportation, hints the London Rocket team may have brought this legal trouble upon themselves by not doing all of its homework.
“Any person or organization providing a service that carries passengers for compensation (charges a fare) between municipalities is required to comply with Ontario’s Public Vehicles Act,” Woozageer said in an email to Metro. “The act requires that a public-vehicle operating licence be obtained for these services.”
Two companies Greyhound competes with on a national stage, Pacific Western and Coach Canada, attempted to penetrate the local market in June, much like London Rocket. They were also unsuccessful, in part due to the fact they couldn’t get licensed.
Woozageer acknowledges the ministry is aware of the situation involving London Rocket and Greyhound, but adds they have not had any formal discussions with either group.
This holiday season was supposed to be London Rocket’s official launch, offering exam-period rides to mostly Western students. They had sold about a busload of seats, which are now refundable.
“While we wished the competition could have approached us in a different manner,” the London Rocket statement continues, “all the wonderful emails you sent us voicing your support have brought our team closer together, and made us happy to be doing our jobs.”