Tired of Uber’s strict no unaccompanied minor policy, three West Coast mom have launched a kid-friendly shuttle service that they’re describing as “Uber for kids.” The service, called, HopSkipDrive, is the first of its kind and is now expanding across the country.
Started by three mothers with eight kids “that go to five different schools and have 25 different after-school activities,” between them, the HopSkipDrive is super parent-friendly. The app updates parents throughout the whole ride regularly, and sends them the driver’s picture and information ahead of time. Not to mention, the rides are also much easier on the wallet: they start at $15 and $6 for families. That’s a far cry from paying Uber surge prices to drive three miles in 15 minutes.
“It’s hard when we’re single moms and we have to be at work but our kids have to be in certain places,” said Joanna Aguilera, a Denver mother who now uses the service, in an interview with the Denver Post. “And it’s great they have child care experience.”
As it stands right now, you have to be 18 or older to have an Uber account and request rides. That’s actually not such a bad thing, though: Uber has come under fire in the past for not doing proper background checks on their drivers. While they are legally required not to hire drivers who have been convicted of a violent felony, terrorism-related offenses, or are a registered sex offender, they aren’t required to subject their drivers to government-run fingerprint background checks.
HopSkipDrive is a lot more strict about who gets to drive for the company than their competitors are. They only work with drivers who have been interviewed in person, and who possess five or more years of childcare experience. It’s also required that drivers be fingerprinted. While other kid-oriented driving services are available, HopSkipDrive is the first one to leave their home state and go across state lines. The company will now do drives throughout California as well as in Denver.
Why Denver? “Denver has highly active families, and with school choice, families have a lot of options. Everybody wants what is best for their children, and that’s not always the school down the street,” said CEO Joanna McFarland, who is a native of the Mile High City. “There’s a huge opportunity for us to enable school choice by enabling the transportation piece of getting kids to the school.”
The main drawback of the service is that the rides have to be coordinated in advance. Parents must schedule the trips at least eight hours ahead of time, and HopSkipDrive offers no on-demand driving service. For early morning pickups, the ride needs to be scheduled by 7 PM the previous day. Regardless, parents who have to take time off from work to drive their young kids everywhere can rejoice, and relax knowing that their kids are in good hands.
“Just knowing your kid is with someone who really understands and gets kids and is not going to be rude (helps),” said Gabriella Shead, a Lakewood, Colorado resident. “I think I enjoyed it more than my daughter did because I finally felt relaxed, I finally felt comfortable.”