For the over-stressed, over-worked or generally selfish parent, there are a couple new companies you might be interested in hearing about. HopSkipDrive and Shuddle, both based in California, are hoping to cash in on the newest trend in parenting with disposable income, car service exclusively for kids.
Essentially Uber or Lyft for those of us between the ages of 7 and 17, HopSkipDrive assures parents their children will be transported with the utmost of care and safety. Aside from undergoing IRS levels of privacy-reducing background checks, prospective drivers are specially trained in meeting the needs of carsick children and adapting to unforeseen circumstances. For instance, if a child arrives at his or her destination only to find that their basketball coach has canceled practice, the driver is required to contact the parent. So, no worries about little Jimmy getting stranded at the gym — because it’s not like kids have cell phones nowadays. Who can afford that?
With the object of price in mind, the going rates of HopSkipDrive are $20 per ride with. Not unlike Uber, though, an extra “surge price” for weekends and the last day of school can kick in. No, not really, but there is a 5-mile or 30-minute limit before extra dollars are tacked on.
The founders of HopSkipDrive, aside from using their service for their own children, propose it to be safer than allowing your children to ride home with friends or take the local carpool. “How well do you know your kid’s friend when you set up a car pool?,” asks co-founder Janelle McGlothlin in a NYTimes article. With HopSkipDrive, your child’s ride can be tracked via the phone app and upon arriving at their destination, you are alerted with the driver’s average speed, maximum speed, as well as the time it took them to get there.
Many of the drivers for HopSkipDrive are parents themselves and, interestingly enough, are permitted to bring their own children along — a good opportunity for those parents to collect some extra revenue while running their daily errands! What’s a couple of extra kids in the back of the minivan? Let’s just hope they aren’t too uncomfortable being in close quarters with complete strangers, because Dad had an extra $20 and the Dodgers went into extra innings.
Overall, it seems like the logical progression since Uber gained popularity and it should be a successful business barring any scandals or tragedies. According to Arun Sundararajan, a business professor at New York University, the service is a viable business, at least for a few decades, until cars can drive themselves or fly. No, seriously. But don’t take my word for it.
Here’s a video from Shuddle: