For working parents, getting children to school hasn’t always been easy—even before the COVID-19 pandemic. For those in Spokane, Washington, however, the rideshare app HopSkipDrive is partnering with an area school district to provide a new transportation option for families.
The service, which launched at the beginning of February 2021, is being described as, “Uber for school children.” The app matches schools and families with highly vetted drivers known as CareDrivers. To become a CareDriver, an applicant has to have five years of caregiving experience and pass a rigorous 15-point driver certification process.
Lynda Morrison, a CareDriver with HopSkipDrive, spoke with KREM2: “It just opens up a whole other avenue for the parents to coordinate getting their kids to and from school without them actually having to do the driving.”
At this time, not all students are eligible for HopSkipDrive rides. Spokane Public Schools is deciding which students are eligible. That currently includes students with special needs, those experiencing homelessness, and students in the foster care system.
For those who are eligible, rides are scheduled in advance and are tracked by GPS from pick up to drop off. For security purposes, drivers wear bright orange shirts and have stickers on their car. Before a child can get in a vehicle, they have to confirm the codeword with the driver.
HopSkipDrive’s CEO Joanna McFarland released the following statement regarding the company’s safety and security policies: “The child knows that, that is a word they have come up with with their care giver, with their schools and this is the right driver. The driver will ask another question to make sure they have the right student, so it’s a two-factor authentication system. Which does make it slightly different than Uber or Lyft which is more of a convenience for getting around town, these are your children, your most previous commodities.
The Spokane Public School District hopes this program will save the district money and address transportation demands amid COVID-19 restrictions and the nationwide bus driver shortage.
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