For those who feel more taxi than mom
Playing chauffeur comes with the parenting gig. But toting multiple kids to and from school, soccer practices, dance recitals, and playdates can quickly go from an annoying chore to a never-ending task that consumes your life. Because of scheduling conflicts or simply an exhausting schedule, many parents need a break from driving their kids all over town.
Easier said than done. Many parents don’t feel comfortable letting their kids use public transportation alone, and for those who live in cities without public transit, that’s not even an option.
Some parents may try Uber or Lyft to solve their carpool conundrums, but these options are not without their issues. Despite the existence of UberFamily and cars equipped with boosters and car seats, unaccompanied kids are technically not allowed by either service, though some parents and drivers may overlook this.
Combine these limitations with allegations of sexual misconduct by rideshare drivers, and many parents are left without a safe and reliable option for transporting their kids from place to place.
Luckily, there are companies out there working to curb the desperate situation of parents needing reliable transportation for their kids. Here’s our roundup.
HopSkipDrive, a rideshare app for kids, was founded by three working moms in the L.A. area and caters specifically to the needs of parents and their unaccompanied riders. The background checks are rigorous and include a fingerprint test, drivers must have good driving records, a 2007 or newer car, and drivers need to have at least five years of childcare experience.
The app is easy to use, and once registered, you are able to browse through photos and bios of potential drivers before allowing them to shuttle your kids around. The app’s real-time driving feature gives you peace of mind as you watch your kids transported from point A to point B.
HopSkipDrive has since expanded beyond the L.A. and Orange County areas to the Bay Area, filling the hole left by a similar kids’ rideshare startup, Shuddle, which folded after two years because it hadn’t raised enough funding. The company’s venture capital woes didn’t reflect a lack of interest in its services, though, as HopSkipDrive’s plans for nationwide expansion make clear.
Kango, another Bay Area company, gives parents the added option of childcare before or after rides so that they are completely covered if they can’t get away from an important meeting. Both HopSkipDrive and Kango offer carpooling options as well, allowing the cost to be split between families (because a $15 drive to dance class doesn’t exactly scream economical).
Kango has a very similar app to HopSkipDrive so that parents can see the potential drivers and sitters before booking an appointment, and the background checks are similarly rigorous. If necessary, you can also meet up in person to make sure your caretaker is a good fit for both you and your family.
Good Old-Fashioned Carpool — With a Twist
For parents who can’t stomach the fares associated with these kid-friendly apps (or if they aren’t available in your area,) there’s another set of options — apps that make it easier to arrange carpools. Yep, good old-fashioned carpools.
Instead of everyone in the neighborhood driving separately to the same game, apps like Carpool Kids allow you to connect with parents you already know to arrange carpools. GoChaperone is another rideshare app for kids that allows parents to pay one another for rides — or exchange “tokens,” similar to an IOU.
If these carpool apps aren’t available in your area, don’t panic. With potential expansions of existing companies and the community-based apps available, you’re sure to find a workable solution for your transportation troubles.