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Do you ever wish children could drive themselves? Parents everywhere spend hours each week driving their kids to school, clubs, sports practices, and endless birthday parties and playdates. Luckily, new companies have taken on the moniker “Uber for kids” to provide you with an invaluable service.
Uber and Lyft have policies against serving unaccompanied minors, but new child transportation services are making it possible for parents to book highly vetted drivers for everyday needs. As a plus, many of these drivers are also childcare providers.
Keep reading to learn about four of our favorite “Uber for kids” services that are sure to impress you.
Between all the “Uber for kids” services quickly appearing across the country, HopSkipDrive appears to be the most popular choice for parents. Available in California, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. — including Denver, Fairfax, San Diego, and San Francisco — the company has provided over four million rides since its inception in 2015.
Using the HopSkipDrive platform, parents can choose between three different services:
- Individual rides: This standard service allows parents to book one-time rides up to eight hours in advance, or as late as 7 p.m. for trips the following morning. Minimum fares range from $15 to $20. You can receive a clearer price estimate for your location on this page.
- Recurring rides: If your child needs a ride to school or after-school activities on a recurring schedule, booking recurring rides will save you the hassle of rebooking each individual ride.
- Carpool rides: If your child carpools with a child from another family you know, you’ll receive up to a 60% discount on your HopSkipDrive ride.
During your child’s trip, you’ll be able to track their location, receive pick-up and drop-off alerts, and view driver ratings. HopSkipDrive will simultaneously track driving behavior, including everything from phone usage to brake force and speed.
Schools are also welcome to utilize HopSkipDrive as a replacement for school buses. The company specifies that it is also open to supporting the transportation needs of nonprofits and under-served communities.
Available throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County, Kango is another popular children’s transportation service that also offers childcare services. If your child is heading to an activity that requires a chaperone or you just want an extra set of eyes during a birthday party, Kango is a great service that can keep you updated and in contact with your sitter while they’re with your child.
With Kango, you can meet your child’s driver or sitter beforehand for free to ensure it’s a perfect fit. Plus, you’re always welcome to tag along or have a caregiver join the ride, as long as you’re listed as a co-passenger.
However, Kango prices can add up for parents who don’t constantly need the service. Due to periodic background checks, booster seat and car seat availability, and other factors, the company charges a monthly $9 subscription fee. This charge doesn’t go toward any services, which will cost you a minimum of $16 per ride and $15-20 per hour for childcare.
Regardless, if you’re a former user of the now defunct Shuddle, Kango and HopSkipDrive are both excellent alternatives for your child’s transportation needs.
Zūm is a fantastic blend of the aforementioned “Uber for kids” services that provides all the services listed above. Plus, it’s the most widely available. The platform is growing to additional places but is now available for users in Arizona, Illinois, Texas, Florida, and parts of California.
Parents can input their preferences for which Zūm drivers are assigned to their family, ensuring your child’s comfort and familiarity every time. Parents aren’t the only ones who can take safety precautions on this platform. Zūm also offers an app where kids can verify their driver and track their ride in real-time through a smartphone.
Zūm’s costs, which can be predicted using this fare estimator, are pretty much on par with other kids’ rideshare and childcare services. It is important to note that childcare services on Zūm can only be booked for a maximum of two hours.
As with HopSkipDrive, Zūm also offers their services to school districts as a school bus alternative and as transportation for children in special needs programs.
While Sheprd was once the leading children’s rideshare service in Boston, Massachusetts, permit and financial issues caused the company to shut down in late 2018. Today, Zemcar is filling this service gap by providing unparalleled safety precautions for children and parents using the service.
Boston area parents can use the application to not only request one-way and recurring rides but also to watch the ride in real-time. If you have any safety concerns about what happens during a ride, there’s a live recording that you can check at any time. You’ll also have the opportunity to build your “Circle of Trust,” which allows you to handpick preferred drivers and drivers with permission to drive your child.
You can receive a Zemcar price estimate on this page.
How to Become an “Uber for Kids” Driver
The process to becoming an “Uber for Kids” driver isn’t as simple as the process for traditional Uber drivers, but you’re guaranteed to earn far more after investing your time. The majority of these platforms claim that drivers can earn over $30 per hour, which is certainly believable due to the higher cost of their services.
Before you can start earning, you must fulfill a set of requirements that can slightly differ but are fairly similar across platforms. Requirements include:
- Minimum age requirements that range from 21 to 23 years old
- Vehicles must have four doors, and the oldest models allowed range from 10 to 14 years old
- Vehicles must pass a 19-point vehicle inspection
- Drivers must have three to five years of childcare experience
- Drivers on all platforms must pass multiple forms of background checks
All of this goes to ensure that drivers are not only trustworthy but also great at engaging children and keeping them happy. Still, safety is always a priority when working with children, which is why every platform has additional, unique screening methods to give busy parents peace of mind. For example, HopSkipDrive and Zūm require a face-to-face meeting at the beginning of the driver vetting process, Zemcar requires two references, and Kango requires an in-person training.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now that you know “Uber for kids” isn’t just a dream for busy parents, the final step is selecting the perfect platform to transport your child from one location to another. Here are a few frequently asked questions to help you out:
1. When can I expect an “Uber for kids” service in my area?
The “Uber for kids” concept is increasingly popular across the United States. If a kid-friendly rideshare company hasn’t hit your area yet, it’s highly likely that one will soon arrive in the major city closest to you.
However, don’t anticipate an extremely speedy timeline. These companies tend to expand more slowly than traditional rideshare companies due to their commitment to intensive driver vetting processes.
2. Should I tip my driver?
Though tipping is always appreciated in the service industry, every company leaves this choice entirely up to you. Most children’s rideshare services reassure users that drivers receive a sizable income, making them less dependent on tips than regular rideshare drivers, who earn as low as $13.70 per hour. Still, rewarding familiar drivers for their outstanding service every once in a while benefits your relationship.
3. Are there age requirements for “Uber for Kids” services?
Every rideshare service has a different age requirement for unaccompanied minors. Kango has the most relaxed requirement, allowing passengers to start riding at two years old. Zūm allows five-year-old riders, while HopSkipDrive requires riders to be six. Zemcar is the strictest, requiring riders without parents to be at least eight years old.
Some platforms may additionally require that children under a certain age sit in the back seat of the vehicle.
Book Free Time in Your Schedule
Parents always want what’s best for their children. With “Uber for kids” services, you can provide the best, while taking some time for yourself. We hope this guide has helped you select a trusted transportation service, so you can hop on Netflix for a non-PG movie, drive to a fun destination, or finally attend networking events without feeling guilty.
When you’re ready to book your first ride, make sure to consider these four rideshare options to keep your child safe.
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.