One question we receive a lot on RSG is: are there any dedicated ridesharing companies for kids? It turns out, there are a few – they just aren’t nationwide yet. Today, RSG contributor Paula Gibbins covers the top four rideshare apps out there specifically for driving kids. Do you drive for one of these services? Let us know!
One aspect of ridesharing that is gaining more popularity these days is rideshare for kids. The regular rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft do not allow drivers to take unaccompanied minors (even though we all know it happens), but four companies have stepped up to provide transportation for minors – legally.
These four companies have special insurance that allows drivers to transport kids, and they all send their drivers through rigorous background checks to ensure their drivers are safe and can handle driving around the kiddos. In this article, we’ll take a look at the top four rideshare apps for kids and what drivers can expect while working for them.
HopSkipDrive, as stated immediately on their website, is “created by moms and driven with love.” According to a representative of HopSkipDrive: “We are a technology-enabled transportation solution for families, K-12 schools, non-profits, and kid-based businesses and driven over 2.5 million safe miles.” They are always looking into expanding their service area and currently cover these locations: Southern California, San Francisco Bay area, and the Colorado-Front Range area.
Along with their certification process and background checks, HopSkipDrive also does ride-alongs and driver training for on-hand training. Here’s a video about driving on the HopSkipDrive platform.
One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that, according to their website, HopSkipDrive does not provide car seats, although they do provide booster seats for children 6 years and older.
One booster seat is provided upfront by HopSkipDrive during the onboarding process of their drivers, but they do not reimburse for extra booster seats that may be needed if you end up driving more than one child who would require a booster seat. However, if you don’t have enough booster seats and you attempt to pick up more than one child at one time who requires one, you will be deactivated. So, if you know a client is going to need more than one booster seat for the ride, purchase it ahead of time to be prepared.
One thing I appreciated about their website is they have a link to their rules for drivers and riders so everyone is able to understand expectations and ways to maintain safety. One example is that it tells the riders to make sure their driver is wearing the required orange HopSkipDrive apparel, and the driver confirms your password with you. I think it’s awesome they have a prearranged password to add yet another level of safety to a situation that might make parents nervous.
Zūm boasts safe and reliable rides and care for children ages 5+. Similar to Kango, they do more than just give rides, but they also offer care services. Here is their full list of criteria for their drivers, and their coverage area includes the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.
According to the Zūm website, “We take pride in our punctuality and our ability to complete all rides booked.” Parents are encouraged to use Zūm for daily rides to and from school, commute to and from activities, carpool with your child’s friends, play dates or party pickups and dropoffs, and you can add childcare or chaperoning to your ride.
The first booster seat would have to be purchased by you; anything after that will be covered by Zūm, according to customer support.
Something that really makes Zūm stand out is their option for carpooling. Their idea of carpooling is where children from multiple families ride together in the same vehicle. Each child can be picked up and dropped off at the same or different locations.
Zūm provides rides from 6 a.m. – 9 p.m., Monday through Sunday, which means they are not available 24/7. However, they do allow for accommodations by calling support, emailing them or contacting support via chat on their website.
Another unique feature of Zūm is that they have paired with schools in the areas they service. The idea seems to be that the school covers the cost of the rides to and from school or extra-curricular activities, which would be an enormous benefit for parents so they don’t have to front the cost of getting their child to and from school if the bus is not a reasonable option or if there are other transportation hiccups.
Zum even offers services for field trips utilizing their large network of cars, SUVs and vans. Zūm states that they have the right sized vehicle for day trips or overnight events including one-way or round trip transportation.
Sheprd is the only company on this list that offers services on the east side of the United States. They, like the others, are also looking to expand their service area but for now, if you’re in Massachusetts, you’re in luck. They currently cover Newton, MA and the greater Boston area.
Here is a video testimonial from a Sheprd user. The drivers undergo a two-week training program as well as practice mock shifts so they can get a feel for what they are doing before hitting the road.
According to a Sheprd representative,
“70% of parents report working between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and yet the median school day ends at 2:50 p.m. — leaving parents scrambling to find solutions as to how to get their children home or to and from after school activities. That’s why we started Sheprd, which provides safe and reliable rides for kids. Some people call us ‘Uber for kids,’ however Sheprd is quite the opposite. What truly sets Sheprd apart is our thorough driver vetting and training process, which ensures passenger safety every step of the way.”
One thing that sets Sheprd apart from the other apps in this comparison is that all drivers and vehicles are consistently uniformed and branded, so the parents know their children are being picked up by the correct company/driver.
The Sheprd website does mention they are unable to accommodate passengers who require a car seat at this time, making it sound like they are working toward that. However, they do use MiFold, an adjustable booster seat designed to change to the specific size of each child, so the driver doesn’t have to guess what size is the right one.
Additional good news for the drivers is that each driver is given the same number of booster seats as the number of back seats in the car (so a driver with a 5 passenger vehicle would receive 3 booster seats and a driver with an 8 passenger vehicle would receive 6 booster seats, etc.). Drivers are given the appropriate number of booster seats once they have passed all hiring criteria and training — and of course, they are asked to return all equipment if they decide to no longer work for Sheprd.
Something that came about while I was researching for this article is that Sheprd provides a little extra touch by having snacks and drinks such as bottles of water and gummy snacks for the kids available — at no extra cost. A representative said, “If a driver ever needs more vehicle supplies (consumables include water bottles and gummy snacks for the kids) they know that they can call our operations team or stop into the office and someone will help them re-stock.” That is convenient and a great thing to provide for both the driver and the passengers.
Similar to Zūm, Sheprd partners with local schools, camps, clubs and more in order to organize transportation services to and from activities.
Also, Sheprd is the only rideshare company for kids that clearly states on their website that they require pediatric first-aid certification of their drivers, which is a great asset. Obviously the hope is always that no one will need to put that knowledge to use, but in an emergency situation, it would be great to have someone who knows what they are doing.
Editor’s Note: Sheprd recently (and unexpectedly) announced it was shutting down operations after a state crackdown.
Kango is a unique service in that it allows both rides and childcare, serving parents in so many ways. Much like the regular rideshare apps allow passengers to schedule and track their rides, Kango allows the parents to schedule a ride and follow it so they can see their children are dropped off at the correct spot. They offer services in the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles County and San Fernando Valley.
To stand out from the others, take a look at what Kango has to say about their services:
“Driving for Kango is very different than driving for Uber or Lyft — who are not licensed to drive unaccompanied kids. It’s much more than a curbside-to-curbside service, because it is about kids. When you’re responsible for someone’s most precious cargo, safety and trust are key.
“In addition, kids might need to be signed in or signed out from school or an activity, or brought into the house. Kango drivers are background-checked, and, unlike drivers for Uber/Lyft, they are also fingerprinted, Trustline certified as caregivers (all have childcare experience).
“Kango is the only kids’ ridesharing service that is insured to drive unaccompanied children of any age, and allows both pre-scheduled and same-day requests. And Kango’s live operations team is always there to assist drivers who have questions or need help with a ride.”
All of these apps focus seriously on background checks, fingerprinting and DMV checks to make sure their drivers are the real deal. Here is the safety checklist for Kango. Along with their safety guidelines, they want to make sure the kids are safe at all times by providing the drivers with car seats and booster seats at no cost to the drivers. As for the parents, they just need to remember to request what they need when they are placing the ride request within the app.
I can really appreciate that they cater to more than just rides, but also provide care services. With that gap between when the school day is over and when parents are off of work, this really helps out tremendously. I know several parents who would benefit just from that.
Another plus for the parents is they are able to request a specific driver or sitter and they can set it up to be recurring (daily pick ups at the same time, for instance). However, they do not guarantee it will be that same driver or sitter but will do the best they can to consistently schedule parents with the driver or sitter of their preference.
Here’s a plus for the drivers and sitters: parents are encouraged to tip and have the ability to do so within the app. As all rideshare drivers know, having tipping available within the app is a huge plus and boosts the likelihood of receiving tips for services. People just do not carry cash.
Here is a chart of pertinent information for all you drivers out there who are interested in driving for a kid-friendly app-based service.
Top Four Rideshare Apps for Kids Breakdown
How Do These Rate for Rideshare Drivers?
As a rideshare driver, do these sound like reasonably paying gigs that are worth the time and hassle? Part of that has to be your own determination: Would you be happy driving children around without the supervision of their parents? Personally, my answer would be “Probably”. Not a firm yes, but also not a no, which leads me to believe, I still might not be right for the part. However, if you truly enjoy kids of all ages, you’re off to the right start with driving for one of these services.
According to the estimated pay, I’d say these are a good deal when compared to the “regular” rideshare services. If I can get up to $30 and hour, I would be excited for that. One thing you’ll want to take into consideration, however, is if that includes reimbursement for mileage. If it does, that’s one less thing you’re able to deduct at the end of the year, which may throw off your taxes a bit. I bank on the fact that Uber and Lyft don’t reimburse me for mileage so I can write it off as a deduction at the end of the year. But, if that’s not something you’re worried about or interested in, being reimbursed up front for your mileage could be a great option for more cash in your pocket.
As far as available hours go, this seems to be more ideally suited to someone looking to do it part time with the idea that most of these kids would need rides first thing in the morning, then assuming things would slow down during the school day, and pick back up again from around 2:30pm and on. The exception to this likely being the services that also provide care service where you’re basically babysitting or providing a daycare-style service. Those could be day-long endeavors based on the age of the child or how late the parents work into the evenings.
Basically, it’s up to you to decide if you have the patience for this type of service and if you feel like the approximate $30/hr paycheck is enough to make up for any hassles you feel this service might bring up in comparison to driving around adults. I know some feel like children are worse to drive than adults and the opposite is true as well. Take a look at yourself to decide if this is something that sounds right for you. It’s definitely not for everyone, but could be a great deal for the right candidate.
Are These Apps the Solution Parents are Looking For?
I can see why many parents would jump at the chance to use apps like these. It would be a huge weight off their minds to be able to ensure their kids get where they need to go without interrupting the busy work day. With the added levels of safety built into these systems, it also offers a certain peace of mind that’s needed when children are involved.
I do have some misgivings, however. I feel like some parents may rely too heavily on these services and become detached from their kids’ extracurricular activities and therefore more hands-off than they mean to become. I like these as a solution for those occasions when you simply can’t do it, but not as an everyday occurrence.
Also, as a driver, some of the messiest passengers are kids — and that’s when the parents are in the vehicle with them! That’s one reason why driving for these companies might not be a great idea for the everyday driver who drives for Lyft and Uber. There’s a reason these places want to hire people who have experience with kids. They want drivers and sitters who know what they are getting themselves into.
If you’re considering driving for any of these companies, the biggest difference I found among all of them was how they handle the car seat/booster seat situation. As a driver, I don’t want to take on the added expense of buying a booster seat, so I would likely lean toward one that covers that cost.
All in all, it seems like these apps are the real deal for both the drivers and the customers. It’s not just a passing fad. With the added certifications and insurance these apps have, they are protecting themselves against the reasons why Uber and Lyft don’t allow unaccompanied minors and by doing so are providing a service that fills a gap.
Would you drive for one of these kid-friendly rideshare companies?
-Paula @ RSG