For years, students across metro Detroit have waited at the bus stop for the yellow school bus to take them to school. However, this year, many buses didn’t make it to those stops due to a shortage of bus drivers.
A new transportation program is taking action to put an end to that dilemma. A rideshare service called HopSkipDrive announced it has partnered with 10 Detroit-area school districts, including Detroit Public Schools Community District, Ferndale Public Schools, Farmington Public Schools, Wayne-Westland Community Schools, and others.
The program is similar to Uber and Lyft, only it specializes in the transportation of children ages 6 and older, including students with special needs, students experiencing homelessness, and students in foster care. The service extends beyond rides to and from school, too.
“These students have individualized transportation needs that can’t always be met by the school bus easily,” says Miriam Ravkin, senior vice president of marketing at HopSkipDrive. “For instance, students with special needs may need transportation to an appointment, or a student in foster care may move homes late at night and need transportation to school in the morning. HopSkipDrive’s mission is to create opportunity for all through mobility and by helping districts fulfill transportation needs for vulnerable populations, we’re driving greater educational equity.”
District transportation staff can schedule HopSkipDrive rides for students. HopSkipDrive also has a consumer app, where parents or caregivers can schedule rides for themselves.
The service is looking for Detroit-area drivers, which it says will be paid $40 per hour. In order to qualify for the position of driving the school-aged children, HopSkipDrive’s “CareDrivers” are subject to extensive background checks, including fingerprinting, background screenings, and ongoing driving record checks. They are also required to have five years of experience in caregiving.
More information is available at hopskipdrive.com/drive.
During each pick-up and drop off, CareDrivers wear a bright orange T-shirt emblazoned with the word “CareDriver” so that it’s easier for students to recognize them. There will also be a HopSkipDrive decal on their car.
The HopSkipDrive program idea came about in 2014, when three moms came together to create a transportation solution for getting their children to and from school. The plan has turned into a program that has partnered with more than 400 school districts across the country.
According to the HopSkipDrive website, the ride share program is 40% less expensive to use than a school bus with 12 students or less.
“I appreciate HopSkipDrive’s commitment to providing an innovative school transportation solution,” says Bill Good, director of communications and pupil services at Ferndale Public Schools. “Every day parents trust school districts to safely transport their children to and from school. HopSkipDrive provides parents and caregivers with an unprecedented ability to oversee their child’s trip to school every day through the smartphone application. This level of transparency builds a culture of trust between the school, parent, and driver.”
“We are looking forward to partnering with the amazing school districts in the Detroit metro area to help get more kids to school — safely and on time,” Ravkin says. “We love seeing children succeed through greater access to transportation.”
More information is available at hopskipdrive.com.