According to HopSkipDrive, the logistics and the number of hours caregivers spend transporting children to and from activities is the equivalent to a part-time job. The hassle of working out which parent or caregiver will do drop off or pick up, who’s turn it is for driving the carpool is a stressor in many homes.
Two out of three parents say having to drive their kids somewhere interrupts their work regularly. Over 41% say it’s a daily or at least weekly struggle, a whopping 51% say they spend up to five hours a week driving their kids to activities, and a third of those parents spend over 10 hours.
It was just a matter of time before rideshare options for minors became an alternative. If the thought of telling your child to hop into a stranger’s car goes against everything you’ve ever taught them and makes your heart stop, congratulations, you’re a good parent! However, apps like HopSkipRide, Kango, and Zum are a safe, reliable option for those days you just can’t get away from the office or are double-booked with another commitment.
Each has safeguards in place and caters exclusively to children, something Lyft and Uber do not offer. In fact, both prohibit drivers from accepting requests or transporting unaccompanied minors.
If you’re considering using one of these kid-friendly rideshare apps, here’s what you need to know.
- Start by reviewing the company’s terms of service to ensure you understand its limitations and disclaimers of liability. This is not the time to tick the “I have read and agree” box without actually reading it.
- Go online and read the customer reviews, so you have an idea of their track record and what other users’ say about their experience.
- Investigate how they respond to inevitable issues like late pickups/drop-offs, last-minute driver cancellations, accidents, traffic, or other incidents that may occur while transporting your child.
- When you book the ride, include a secret password that the driver must tell your child before they get in the car. Make sure you use an app like “Find My Friends” (iOS, Android) so you have a way to track your child independently from the rideshare service you are using.
- If you’ve had a positive experience with a particular driver, ask for them each time you use the service. Most apps will try to accommodate you since a happy customer is a returning customer. Also, be sure to leave a tip and positive review.
- On the other hand, if you have a negative experience, be sure to report it immediately. That includes things like a late pickup, careless driving, and bad language.
- Teach your children to be observant while in the car and to text you immediately if there are any concerns.
HopSkipDrive Service area: Northern and Southern California, Colorado’s Front Range, and the Washington DC/Virginia area
HopSkipRide was founded by three working moms frustrated with the struggle of t trying to get their kids to and from school and their activities. Every driver is thoroughly vetted, and parents can schedule rides up to eight hours in advance or schedule recurring trips. Rates are similar to what you’d pay for Uber or Lyft, but they also offer a carpool option for up to four families.
Autter Service area: Atlanta
Founded by moms, Autter offers their services at $1 per mile and $0.50 per minute, or you can purchase multiple rides for a discount.
Kango Service area: Bay Area of San Francisco and parts of Los Angeles
Kango started as a peer to peer rideshare app but switched to rideshare in 2015. Like the others in this list, Kango thoroughly vets their drivers – their background checks go back 18 years – but goes one step further by fingerprinting them. Drivers must pass an in-person interview as well as attend an in-person training program, and require childcare experience. They also provide childcare services. For details on cost, scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Zūm Service area: California, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, and Florida
Like the others in this list, Zūm has an exhaustive three-step vetting process for drivers with only one in five applicants accepted. Along with passing the standard criminal and driving-record background checks, anyone who wants to drive for Zūm must be certified by TrustLine, a database of nannies and babysitters who have cleared criminal background checks. Over 2,000 schools and districts have contracted with Zūm. Zūm offers a fare estimator on their site — prices start at $8 per kid for carpool rides and $16 for a single trip. For individuals who need extra time, Zūm drivers can be booked for childcare for up to two hours at $6 every 15 minutes.
goKid Service area:
goKid uses the peer to peer model formerly used by Kango and enables caregivers to create GoKid carpools by-invitation-only: you are paired up with other parents whose kids are going to and from the same events and locations like soccer practice or ballet class. Just enter the school name and team name and through integrating SportsEngine and TeamSnap, the needed details such as times and locations will usually be filled in automatically. The only cost is for the app itself – $4.99 a month or $49.99 per year. A free version is available with that has all the essential components necessary, dropping in-app notes, carpool history, and Google calendar synchronization. Be aware that goKid does not vet drivers, nor do they screen drivers – the app is more a facilitator than screening service – it’s up to you to screen the driver.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.