WINGHAM, ONT. -- Wave Limo and Tours usually transports adults to concerts, sporting events and wine tours, but this fall they’re thinking about switching to students.

“People are concerned about school buses and I have available vehicles, so I thought it might be an opportunity to provide a safe alternative to get to school,” says Wave Limo and Tours Founder Bradley Oke.

With so many outings and events cancelled due to COVID-19, Wave Limo and Tours has essentially been on standby for most of the summer.

As school approached, Oke noticed that many parents and school bus drivers were expressing concerns about the number of children on board, and lack of guidelines that the government has laid out for getting kids to and from school.

While cleaning protocols and mask wearing on board Wave will be in line with what school bus operators will be doing, Oke says the big advantage his passenger vehicles can offer to students in Huron County, is the lower number of kids - no more than 10 per vehicle and seat belts for every child on board.

“For familiarity and comfort, a driver will be dedicated to that assigned vehicle bubble and route. The driver will always wear a mask, including outside and when loading passengers, and every vehicle will be fully disinfected before and after each trip,” says Oke.

Oke says his Exeter-based tour company checked with the Avon Maitland District School Board and local school bus operators to ensure they were fine with his plan.

“They said, go for it. It’s going to bring a few less kids on the regular school buses and you’re picking up at the door vs. the road, and that’s not a problem,” he says.

Janice White is head of Huron-Perth Student Transportation Services.

“We acknowledge that students arrive at school a variety of ways, including rides from parents, family, friends, local taxis, and of course, school buses. Our yellow buses provide transportation for students that are eligible, and we don’t restrict them from arriving using another mode of transportation. Our hope is that the mode that parents and students choose is safe, and takes into consideration protocols for the health and safety of all,” she says.

Oke says the cost of his door-to-school student pick-up service will depend on distance, but he estimates it will be $20/student per day.

He’s got six passenger vehicles ready to go, which means he’s got room for about 60 students come the first day of school.

“People came to us vs. me saying this was a great business opportunity. But it allows my staff to be working again. They were all laid off after COVID hit, and we’re getting them back on the road again,” says Oke.

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