Ride-hailing service offering safe rides for children launches in the Valley

A new ride-hailing service in the Valley is targeted toward families in need of safe, reliable transportation for their children.

HopSkipDrive is a “tech-enabled, safety-centric” solution for children that began operating in Phoenix on July 30. The Los Angeles-based company was founded in 2014 and already operates throughout California and in parts of Colorado and the Washington, D.C., metro area.

This ride-hailing service differs from companies like Uber and Lyft because it is “just for kids” and targeted toward families who need help transporting children to and from school and extracurricular activities, according to HopSkipDrive.

Drivers for the service, called CareDrivers, have “extensive background checks” and must have at least five years of caregiving experience, according to the company.

“Nearly one in two parents say they feel they put their jobs at risk to meet their children’s transportation needs,” said Joanna McFarland, co-founder and CEO of HopSkipDrive and mother of two. “Parents shouldn’t have to choose between their careers and their children’s education and activities, but that tough choice is very real for countless families.”

HopSkipDrive wants only “highly vetted caregivers” behind the wheel, and safety is core to every aspect of the company, which also offers real-time ride monitoring by the HopSkipDrive Safe Ride Support team.

“HopSkipDrive wants parents to take comfort in knowing they have someone to rely on to get their kids where they need to go, safely and without worry,” McFarland said.

The company asked parents what they thought of the new service:

“With school and extracurriculars in one direction and work in the other, transportation was a daily struggle for our family,” said Jennifer B., a HopSkipDrive user and mother to 15-year-old Lucinda. “What a relief that HopSkipDrive came along.”

HopSkipDrive said hundreds of thousands of families are already using the service, which has “earned the trust” of more than 150 schools and districts nationwide as a simple solution for specialized transportation.

“We are deeply passionate about removing mobility-related barriers for kids, and we help transportation directors make it easy and cost-effective to get students to school safely and on time,” McFarland said. “When kids don’t have to worry about how they’re getting to school, they show up calm and ready to learn. They thrive.”

HopSkipDrive said it selected Phoenix for its latest expansion because it saw a need from local parents and schools.

“With more than 3,000 areas of congestion in the Phoenix metro, many parents spend countless hours each year sitting in traffic, shuttling their kids around town while juggling work obligations,” the company said in a press release. “HopSkipDrive helps alleviate that stress for parents who are struggling.”

School choice can also make traffic more challenging, as nearly one in two Maricopa County students make use of open enrollment options, meaning they choose to attend school outside of their assigned school or district.

“This creates large scale transportation challenges as commutes lengthen and bus routes grow less efficient,” the company said. “HopSkipDrive can help parents and school administrators meet these challenges reliably and safely.”

The CareDriver certification process is the first of its kind and the most comprehensive vetting standard in the ride-hailing industry, according to HopSkipDrive.

In addition to the five years of caregiving experience required, drivers must pass a 15-point certification that includes fingerprinting, FBI and Department of Justice background checks, driving record checks through the Motor Vehicle Department and an in-person meeting with the HopSkipDrive team.

Every HopSkipDrive ride is monitored in real time using proprietary technology that is “purpose-built for safety.” The power of that technology is complemented by a Safe Ride Support team with “deep operational expertise,” according to the company.

Families interested in using HopSkipDrive can download the app or go to HopSkipDrive.com to check service availability in their area. Interested schools and districts should email HopSkipDrive for more information.

Graham Bosch

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