How ride-hailing is transforming school transportation

Some ride-hailing companies are even helping big districts manage their school buses
By: | October 10, 2019
Ride-hailing companies that transport students to school say their drivers are subjected to extensive background checks and must have experience working with children.Ride-hailing companies that transport students to school say their drivers are subjected to extensive background checks and must have experience working with children.

A growing number of ride-hailing apps are allowing parents to find rides to school for their children.

In Phoenix, for example, three national ride-hailing services—HopSkipDriveVANGo and Zūm—have been operating since the spring, USA Today reported.

HopSkipDrive has since expanded into Houston and now operates in six states. Zūm now operates in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Miami, Dallas, Chicago and San Diego, according to USA Today.

“All of our drivers are thoroughly vetted,” VANGo founder and CEO Marta Jamrozik told the New Haven Register earlier this year. “They need to have at least three years of child care experience, a clean DMV record, undergo a background check, fingerprinting, reference checks and even an inspection of their vehicle.”


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Though ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft aren’t supposed to transport children, Vox reported that teens still frequently use the service—even for rides to and from school.

“Whenever I need to get somewhere and if I’m running low on time, I just think to get myself an Uber,” one teenage rider told Vox. “None of the drivers ever really questioned my age.”

Some ride-hailing companies are also working with school districts. In California, HopSkipDrive has transported special ed students in Pasadena USD and shuttled students between schools for Arcadia USD. “We take the problem that a school is having and design a solution around that,” CEO Joanna McFarlan told District Administration last year.


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HopSkipDrive employs parents, teachers, nurses and others as drivers, which it calls “care-drivers.” These drivers are vetted extensively and must have at least five years’ experience as a caregiver, McFarlan said.

Some ride-hailing companies are even sharing technology with school districts. Via, a competitor to Uber and Lyft, has licensed its algorithm to New York City schools to route and track buses, Fast Company reported.

The school system’s bus network serves 150,000 students, and it received at least 130,000 compliants in September 2018 alone, Fast Company reported.


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