WeHa Wheels, Connecticut’s first free shuttle service, will transport people to and from West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square at no charge.
By Ronni Newton
We have wheels in West Hartford – WeHa Wheels.
A unique and innovative means of transport will be available in West Hartford beginning Aug. 2, 2019.
A free shuttle service, operated by Premier Limousine, will transport people back and forth to West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, between the hours of 4:30 and 11:30 p.m., when parking spaces are often hard to come by.
WeHa Wheels is available for service within 2-mile radius, and is completely free of charge to riders.
The unique shuttle service was first proposed by Amy Parmenter, a West Hartford resident who is manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA of Greater Hartford.
“I work for AAA where we consider innovative solutions to transportation problems, and I live in West Hartford Center,” Parmenter said. “This is the intersection of where I live, work, and play.”
The West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square area is a popular destination for people throughout the area, and people often “pout” about not being able to find parking during busy times, Parmenter said. WeHa Wheels will allow those who live within a 2-mile radius to have a worry-free experience getting to and from the area, and will free up parking for others.
Riders don’t have to be picked up at their homes, and can drive to a location with available parking within the 2-mile radius and ask to be picked up there.
Parmenter was familiar with a free shuttle service available in Delray Beach, FL, and thought a similar model could work in West Hartford. She discussed the idea with Tom Hickey of WHMedia, who ran with it, getting Premier Limousine to sign on and sponsors lined up so the service could be free to riders.
Hickey said that WeHa Wheels was an obvious “win-win” – “the perfect vehicle for townies and the perfect ‘vehicle’ for businesses to promote their brands.”
Parmenter and Hickey both saw the finished vehicle for the first time Wednesday afternoon.
“I thought, ‘Wow!’ – which is the same thing that I think most people will say when they see it,” Parmenter said. “To see this idea come to fruition is really exciting.”
“I was blown away,” said Hickey when he first saw the vehicle.
The brand new van, painted a deep, rich purple, has luxurious leather seats that can accommodate 14 riders at a time, and can be reserved by 866-885-LIMO and asking for WeHa Wheels. It’s available on a first-come-first-served basis. Riders will be sent a link that will inform them of where the shuttle is located.
The van is emblazoned with the WeHa Wheels logo designed by West Hartford resident Gary Holmes of Gariphic. Artist Karen Knoble created the appliqués.
“It’s quite the spectacle,” said Holmes. “There’s no missing it, and nothing like it.”
Names of all sponsors appear on the sides above a colorful stripe, and two screens inside the vehicle will provide entertainment to riders via infomercials. Sponsors, listed below, include local and regional businesses and organizations.
Other area businesses will benefit from WeHa Wheels as well.
Riders will also receive a palm card as they embark that includes specials at area establishments. Specials will rotate every three weeks, and initial offers include $6 off at Donut Crazy and a BOGO free deal from 3-7 p.m. for beverages at Hartford Baking Company.
“Not only is it free, but you have discounts that are offered only to riders,” Parmenter said.
“We are excited by anything that provides easy access to the wonderful restaurants, shops and attractions The Center and Blue Back Square have to offer,” Chris Conway, executive director of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce said in a statement.
Parmenter suggested that residents go to www.wehawheels.com and save the phone number for Premier to their phones so that it’s readily available. An app is a possibility for the future.
Once people have a chance to check out the service, feedback will be welcomed.
“This is something that we really want to serve the local residents,” said Parmenter. “We’re starting with a plan, and that plan may need to be adjusted based on needs. If there’s a demand, we can work to meet it.”
WeHa Wheels will be officially unveiled with a special ribbon cutting celebration on Thursday, Aug. 1, beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Isham Road, where the street will be closed off for the Taste of Blue Back Square. The ribbon will be cut at 5 p.m., and the public will be able to check out the inside where finger sandwiches and desserts will be served by Hartford Baking Company.
Taste of Blue Back Square will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m., and paid attendees will be able to check out WeHa Wheels throughout the event.
Instagram frames will be available at the ribbon cutting, and guests are encouraged to share their photos on social media.
Hunter Marotto, a We-Ha.com photography intern who also helped secure sponsors for WeHa Wheels said that the beautiful van makes for a “great photo opportunity at any time.”
Shuttle Sponsors include Avalon Waterways by Lisa Martin Cruise Planners, Blue Back Square, Face It Med Spa, Goff Law Group, Hartford HealthCare, Modern Tire, Mohegan Sun, Essential Health, Udolf Properties, Veterinary Specialists of CT, Keating Insurance, and The Fix.
WeHa Wheels is managed by WHMEDIA and Ledger Publications, and partners include West Hartford Magazine, Jewish Ledger, Experience we-ha, we-ha.com, West Hartford LIFE, West Hartford PRESS, and the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce.
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