The pandemic exacerbated the already problematic U.S. school bus driver shortage, revealing new avenues for the growth of transportation services for students and kids.
Some school districts have already started contracting with rideshare providers like HopSkipDrive and Zum to manage their student transit and diversify their fleet. It’s possible that transporting students through rideshare platforms could take the place of traditional school busses altogether.
And, the classroom isn’t the only destination for these drivers. Busy parents looking to skip the drive are also scheduling rideshares for their kids’ after-school events, practices and more. Drivers that work for these transportation services might also have the chance to be sitters and caregivers.
Somebody tell Ms. Frizzle to order the Uber! Today, we’re taking a magic ride through the Top 3 ridesharing apps for students and kids:
With the start of a new school year approaching, now is a great time to consider whether driving for one of these rideshare alternatives is right for you!
First, let’s clear something up.
“Uber for kids” and “Lyft for kids” do not really exist. While these rideshare alternatives for kids might take some cues from these apps, they are unique in a few key areas.
Rideshare apps for students and kids often require rides to be scheduled well in advance, rather than just hailing them on the fly.
Drivers for these transportation apps take on significantly more responsibility than rideshare drivers for adult-focused companies. The background checks and vetting process drivers go through are substantially more rigorous for rideshare apps that focus on driving students and kids.
In addition, student and child transportation services often require drivers to undergo more extensive training, obtain certifications, and in some cases, have a background as a caregiver (and sometimes function as one).
Now, let’s get into the specific differences for each of the top ridesharing apps for driving students and kids.
HopSkipDrive’s “CareDrivers” is part of a network of rigorously vetted drivers who all have a background in childcare. Their platform is marketed toward schools and busy parents who want to set up single or recurring rides for kids.
Rather than trying to replace traditional school transit systems, HopSkipDrive wants to complement traditional routines, offering a flexible system that can accommodate off-route students and special cases.
The app has also leveraged its experienced network of drivers and heightened safety protocols to offer a rideshare alternative for vulnerable populations and older individuals during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While on the road, regular notifications are sent out to the organizer of the ride (examples being a school administrator, parent, or guardian) and HopSkipDrive’s internal support team so that everyone knows the status of the ride.
Professional CareDrivers can earn up to $50 an hour, according to HopSkipDrive! However, booking windows are usually more limited than traditional rideshare.
Payments to drivers are made every Monday via Stripe. Unlike Uber and Lyft, drivers can still get paid the entire estimated fare for canceled rides if it occurs within 1 hour of their scheduled departure time.
Every CareDriver needs a minimum of 5 years of caregiving experience to become a driver. Other requirements include:
- At least 23 years old
- Good driving record
- 4-door vehicle less than 10 years old
- Pass multi-agency background check with fingerprinting
Some states and school districts also require HopeSkipDrive drivers to obtain advanced qualifications before getting on the road. Qualifications include CPR & First Aid, TB Risk Assessment, and district-specific training.
A primary advantage of rideshare for students and kids is the ability to accommodate students and riders that need a little extra care. CareDrivers receive support and guidance on how to provide Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) for these little riders.
HopSkipDrive shows their love for their hardworking drivers with #YourRide, highlighting the unique stories of their employees. CareDrivers aren’t just earning a reliable paycheck, they’re also making a significant impact on the kids. One CareDriver said:
“It’s uplifting to know I’m helping kids get to where they need to go, safely! Being a CareDriver has both financial and emotional rewards.”
HopSkipDrive serves many major cities across the U.S. Their coverage includes Northern and Southern California, The Front Range of Colorado, Virginia/D.C., Houston, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Central Arizona, Seattle, Spokane, Las Vegas, Odessa-Midland, and Milwaukee.
Kango offers rideshare services for kids of all ages with thoroughly vetted and trained caregivers/drivers.
There’s an element of connection when parents book through Kango. Drivers meet with parents before booking, and parents can request specific drivers when they schedule a ride. Drivers with Kango can also fulfill babysitting/caregiving responsibilities on request.
Recently, Kango partnered with National Express, a leading provider of student transportation services, to partner with various school districts. This move positions them to become the next iteration of student transit.
Kango stands apart from other rideshare apps for children because they are the only app insured to drive kids of all ages, and they do not have a time restriction on their childcare services.
According to their website, Kango drivers can earn up to $48 an hour during peak times. Rideshare apps for kids and students offer drivers more substantial earnings because of their increased responsibilities.
While driving windows are more limited, Kango lets drivers optimize their schedules with additional caregiving duties. Schedules are planned in advance and offer the added flexibility of working as both a driver and a sitter.
Drivers with Kango can also earn tips and choose to drive regular routes. While the earnings opportunities with Kango are great, drivers are still considered independent contractors. So, they’ll be responsible for tracking their earnings with Gridwise, and paying any necessary state and federal taxes.
Before being approved to drive with Kango, applicants undergo a rigorous background check and must meet certain requirements:
- 3+ years of childcare experience + Trustline Certification with fingerprinting
- Background check
- DMV Check
- Vehicle inspection
- Phone screening
- Two reference checks
- In-person interview
Once all criteria are met, drivers also undergo in-person training before officially being bookable on the app.
Drivers seem to love their experience with Kango:
“I love being a part of the Kango family, especially driving the little ones around. Not only am I compensated well for my time and experience with children, but I receive the best support from the Kango team. I can interact directly with the parent within the app and can schedule my rides ahead of time. It’s an app with a human touch.”
Currently, Kango operates in California — San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles County, San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, Orange County, and San Diego — and Phoenix, Arizona.
Zum’s is “reimagining student transportation for safety, sustainability and reliability” according to their website. They contract directly with 4,000+ schools and districts. Unlike other student transportation apps, Zum is designed specifically for school-related transit and doesn’t offer the caregiving or parent bookings of other apps. It’s becoming 21st-century school bus!
Zum offers parents and school officials more flexibility and visibility in their student transit plans. They’re also focused on creating a more sustainable model that introduces EVs (electric vehicles) to their fleet and limits the time that empty busses sit idle.
Zum states that drivers can earn up to $35 an hour and up to $750 per week.
For Zum drivers (aka Zumers), rides are scheduled by school districts base on their needs. Available rides are posted a day in advance, along with the estimated fare, and can be accepted in the driver app. That way, drivers know exactly when they’ll be driving and how much they’ll earn before they even hit the road.
Zum offers two options for schools: traditional and non-traditional student transportation.
Regardless of what type of driver you are, every Zumer must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Preferably have some childcare experience
- Complete a comprehensive interview process
- Possess a clean driving record
- Pass thorough background checks
- Complete all state and company training and maintain valid licensing
Traditional drivers must also pass driver qualifications and obtain a commercial driver’s license with endorsements. Non-traditional drivers need a car that is fewer than 10 years old and able to pass regular inspections.
Zum operates in major U.S. markets including: The Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and Seattle.
Their innovative approach to student transportation services is enabling them to expand rapidly. Potential coming service areas include: Orange County, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, D.C., New York City, San Diego, and Miami.
Local tribute: Zemcar
Currently only operating in the Greater Boston area, Zemcar was a little too small to make our list this time around. But they’re still a great rideshare alternative for kids and students. If you’re in the area, consider signing up today. Or, keep an eye out for them as they expand their market.
What’s fueling the move from traditional student transportation?
Rideshare transportation services for students and kids offer a flexible alternative to the headache of managing a bus fleet. These apps provide parents and schools with custom solutions to safely get kids where they need to be. Smaller vehicles like sedans can pick up off-route students while larger busses drive the main routes.
The Every Student Succeeds Act passed in 2015 put a renewed focus on providing better access to educational opportunities for youth in foster care, unhoused students, and students with special needs. The law mandated that districts provide transit for these students to their school of origin even if they moved out of the district; a regulation that is far easier to implement with rideshare than bus transit.
Thinking About a Change?
If you’re looking for more rewarding work, consider signing up for one of these transportation services. But, keep in mind that getting appointed as a driver will take time.
If you’re ready to make the leap but worried about the financial implications, you might want to consider a personal loan through our partner, Giggle Finance. These extra funds can give you the cushion you need to jump in and start helping the kids and supporting the community!
All drivers save with Gridwise!
Gridwise offers all rideshare and delivery drivers new ways to save. Automatically track your mileage and log your expenses effortlessly in the app to make tax time a breeze. All of your data is collected and turned into simple, elegant graphs, (shown below), to help you analyze and maximize your earnings.
Join our community and become a Gridwise user to gain access to great driver perks like Gridwise Gas and Gridwise Connect! And if you’re not convinced yet, take a look at what our users are saying. Keep more of what you earn, start by Downloading Gridwise today!