No parent can be two places at once, but with all the places your family needs to go, it may feel like you have to be. With HopSkipDrive, you can finally help yourself and your child experience the world without putting pressure on your schedule.
Whereas most rideshare services prevent parents from sending their children on unchaperoned adventures, HopSkipDrive allows you to do just that. The platform helps you connect with experienced caregivers who can safely transport your children to school, birthday parties, and extracurricular activities.
But how does it work? Is it safe? How can you be sure your children are in trusted hands?
In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about HopSkipDrive, from how it works, what it costs, who can use it, to the safety precautions it takes for your child.
- What is HopSkipDrive?
- How HopSkipDrive Works
- Is HopSkipDrive Safe?
- How Much Does HopSkipDrive Cost?
- HopSkipDrive for Families
- HopSkipDrive for Schools
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is HopSkipDrive?
Do you know that expression “necessity is the mother of invention”? Nothing could be a better example of that theory than HopSkipDrive.
HopSkipDrive is a unique rideshare service that caters to busy families in need of a ride for their unaccompanied minors.
The platform was founded by three working moms: Carolyn Yashari Becher, Joanna McFarland, and Janelle McGlothlin. Like many working parents, they were struggling to balance their own careers alongside their kids’ busy schedules. They started the company after recognizing that they weren’t alone–lots of parents struggle with the same problem.
Founded in 2015, the company is now one of the most popular services in an industry dubbed “Uber for kids” and provides three primary services:
- Individual rides: Using the company’s most basic service, families can schedule one-time rides up to eight days early, or as late as 7 p.m. for next-morning trips. Depending on your area, these single-family rides are available for $1 to $1.50 per mile and $0.50 per minute, with a $3 to $5 booking fee. Minimum fares range from $15 to $20.
- Recurring rides: If your child needs a ride to school, sports practice, or other after-school activities on a recurring basis, you can preset the schedule to avoid the hassle of requesting the same ride each time you need it. Recurring rides cost the same as individual rides.
- Carpools: Sharing a ride with families you trust in your area can save you significant funds on HopSkipDrive. By booking a ride with friends in your area, you can save up to 60% and greatly reduce your minimum fares.
With every ride, parents can trust that their children are in safe hands with HopSkipDrive drivers, who are fully vetted contractors known as CareDrivers. Or, if they don’t, they can receive real-time updates and know that the company’s Safe Ride Support team is monitoring every second of the ride as an extra safety measure.
HSD serves families, schools, community organizations, and government agencies. It provides children with a safe, secure mode of transportation. It’s perfect for getting children to and from home, school, day camp, and after-school activities.
Currently, HSD is only available in California and certain parts of Colorado and Virginia, but the company has plans to expand.
How HopSkipDrive Works
Booking a ride on the HopSkipDrive app is a simple process that’s easy to navigate:
- Log in to your HopSkipDrive app. If you aren’t a member already, you can go through the sign-up process when you open the app.
- Select “My Rides” from your menu.
- Select “Just my family” for individual and recurring rides. Select “My family + our carpool” for carpool services.
- Select the appropriate date and time.
- Select riders in your family.
- If you’re requesting a carpool, select families from your contact list to invite.
- Select your pick-up and drop-off locations, or add new ones if you haven’t requested rides to and from those locations in the past. Any special instructions can be added within this step.
- If you want to set a recurring ride, switch on the “Repeat this ride” option to set the frequency and end date on the next screen.
- Double check your payment method is correct, and request your ride.
Following your request, your child will be matched with a trusted CareDriver. While HopSkipDrive does not guarantee the same driver each time, they do state that many drivers choose to return to familiar clients and that all are equally vetted during the driver certification process.
You’ll receive an update when the ride service picks up and drops off your child. You can also double check your app to ensure your child’s CareDriver is taking an appropriate route to their destination.
Is HopSkipDrive Safe?
HopSkipDrive takes plenty of extra precautions to protect passengers and provide parents with peace of mind.
Unlike drivers for traditional rideshare services, CareDrivers are required to:
- Be 23 years old or older
- Have at least five years of childcare experience
- Pass multiple background checks, including fingerprinting, a criminal record check, and a driving record check
- Complete a medical exam
- Attend an in-person CareDriver orientation with a HopSkipDrive team member
These combined requirements make up HopSkipDrive’s intensive driver vetting process, which ensures only the best and most trustworthy drivers will be interacting with your child every ride.
Though HopSkipDrive CareDriver requirements tend to be far stricter than those for Uber and Lyft drivers, vehicle requirements are fairly similar. For example, all these companies require vehicles to have four doors, be 10 years old or newer, and be registered and insured in their state of operation.
All vehicles must additionally pass a 19-point vehicle inspection during each driver’s CareGiver orientation. If a car isn’t eligible for Uber’s high-quality UberX service, you can expect HopSkipDrive to give it the boot, too. After all, no matter what platform you’re using, vehicular safety is always a top priority to keep passengers unharmed.
Drivers must go through a 15-point certification process in order to qualify as a CareDriver.
Parents can rest assured that anyone driving their child has been fully vetted as a reliable, trustworthy caregiver. But, the safety aspect doesn’t end there…
All HopSkipDrive tracks all rides in real-time, so you’ll always know where your child is. Drivers wear bright orange uniform shirts that make them easily identifiable. They also have company flags on their car, so your child will know which car to look for.
There’s an additional safety measure in place, as well. Families are encouraged to come up with a secret password that only the child, their parents, and the driver know. This helps to prevent imposters from posing as a CareDriver.
Parents receive an alert when the driver is on the way to make a pickup. They’ll receive another alert once the child has been safely picked up and a third alert when the child is dropped off.
The phone also monitors the driver’s actions. The platform tracks how fast they drive, how hard they hit the brakes, and whether or not they’re texting while driving.
As you can see, this company places a huge priority on safety. Read the reviews and you’ll see that echoed time and time again.
How Much Does it Cost?
Let’s answer the burning question that everyone has: what does HopSkipDrive cost?
Like Uber and Lyft, there’s no one answer here, as fare rates are based on time and mileage. But, here’s the good news: You can see your estimated ride fare before you book. So, you’ll have an idea of what it’s going to cost you ahead of time.
Of course, traffic always comes into play, but the estimated fare is a good gauge of what you can expect to spend.
If you want to get a sense of what a ride costs in your city, you can use this fare estimator before signing up. Just type in the pickup and drop-off addresses, the pickup time, and if you’ll need to make any stops along the way.
When using the fare estimator, be sure to click on your location. Currently, the only service areas are Southern California, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Denver, Colorado Front Range area.
If you’re looking to save some money, consider carpooling with other children and parents. By sharing rides with others, you can save up to 60% on ride costs.
Keep in mind that you can’t just add your kids’ friends to the ride. All children riding in the carpool need the consent of their parent or guardian.
For details on how to set up a carpool ride, click here and watch this video:
HopSkipDrive for Families
HopSkipDrive’s minimum passenger age is six years old. But, there is no maximum passenger age. This makes it a good option for seniors who need special care or can no longer drive themselves.
The service is perfect for parents who need to get their children to and from school, camp, and lessons. It’s also ideal for transporting children to sporting events and practices. The company provides booster seats for the littlest passengers.
Scheduling a ride is easy. Here’s how it works:
With the app, you can schedule a trip up to 8 hours in advance of your preferred pickup time. You can also book a ride for the following morning – but that has to be done by 7 PM the night before.
You can schedule one ride at a time or schedule recurring rides for daily or weekly activities. To book a recurring ride, just set it to “repeat” when you book your initial one.
If you have more than one child and they need to go to different places, HSD will make multiple stops. Just keep in mind that there is a maximum of 4 children per ride.
Reviews from Families
So what do parents think about the service? Do they like it? Do they trust it? Are they actually using it?
Check out some of these Yelp reviews from parents who have hired a CareDriver:
One parent from Los Angeles writes:
“For the most part, it has been a seamless experience. We did have one time where the driver arrived late, but I was given updates that let me know that she would be late.”
A parent from Walnut Creek, CA says:
“We’ve been using HopSkipDrive for almost three years, with dozens of rides for my daughter, who was eight when we started…We’ve been very happy with the service and I’ve recommended them to several friends.”
Another (admittedly anxious) California parent writes:
“…The idea of my kid getting into a car with a stranger didn’t exactly sound like a great solution…But I am happy to report that this has been a wonderful service that I now use regularly!”
HopSkipDrive for Schools
While HopSkipDrive primarily serves families in need of a trusted, child-friendly drivers, the company additionally provides user-friendly transportation services for charter schools, school districts, and similar organizations.
For schools and school districts, it’s the ideal way to provide transportation to students who are not near a regular school bus route. It also allows students who have limited access to transportation to partake in certain activities.
Charter schools and private schools use HSD to provide a safe means of travel to students who live far away. If you’re looking to boost school enrollment, this could actually entice families to enroll their kids.
HopSkipDrive additionally states that it frequently partners with nonprofits, counties, and other organizations to help homeless and foster youth attend school with a safe ride and without the hassle of time consuming public transportation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Booking a HopSkipDrive ride for your child may be the solution you’ve been searching for, but we know no amount of research is too much when finding a responsible caretaker for your child.
Learn more by reading our answers to five frequently asked questions:
1. Where is HopSkipDrive available?
HopSkipDrive is available in several regions of the United States. These regions are:
- Northern California, including the San Francisco Bay Area
- Southern California, including Los Angeles and Orange County
- Colorado, including Denver and Colorado Springs
- Virginia, including Arlington and Fairfax
- Washington, D.C.
2. Is there a minimum age requirement for HopSkipDrive passengers?
Compared to other “Uber for kids” platforms, HopSkipDrive has a relatively strict age threshold. The company only allows unaccompanied minors who are six years old or older. Younger riders are only allowed if accompanied by an adult.
3. Can I request a car seat for my child?
No, HopSkipDrive only provides booster seats for children who meet the minimum age for riding alone. If a parent is accompanying the child, the parent is welcome to bring a car seat, but CareDrivers are not allowed to assist in installing or uninstalling the car seat.
4. How much do HopSkipDrive drivers make?
CareDrivers can make up to $32 per hour, according to the company’s estimations. The exact number depends on the amount of rides you accept when setting your schedule, but you can definitely expect to earn far more than a typical rideshare driver, whose earnings are extremely close to minimum wage in some states.
5. Do I need to tip my child’s CareDriver?
Unlike most companies in the service industry, HopSkipDrive does not expect or encourage tipping. This is because the CareDrivers are able to earn impressive hourly wages through the earnings the company provides. Unlike traditional rideshare drivers, CareDrivers do not depend on tips to make a decent living.
However, HopSkipDrive has not created any rule against tipping. While you won’t be able to tip through the HopSkipDrive app, you are always welcome to tip your CareDriver outside of the app if they provide exceptional service or you’re feeling generous.
Help Your Child Take on the World
When your child explores the world by attending after-school activities, birthday parties, and more, they’ll thank their superhero parent for teaching them how to navigate the world. By using HopSkipDrive, you can ensure that your child is in safe hands.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.