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Zum Student Transportation: Features & How It Works

Learn how Zum, a full-service student transportation company, can be used to get kids to school safely and on time.

Key Takeaways

  • Zum offers a safe and convenient student transportation service, partnering with schools to manage and optimize routes.
  • Available in major U.S. cities, it provides real-time tracking, automated updates, and communication between parents and drivers.
  • Features an eco-friendly fleet and detailed reporting for school administrators.
  • Parents use the Zum app for ride bookings and tracking, with costs typically covered by school fees.

What Is Zum?

Zum is a transportation service company. Its sustainable vehicles, experienced drivers, and advanced safety features offer parents a convenient and safe way to get their children to and from school.

The company also manages end-to-end student transportation, from finding drivers and vehicles to planning routes and tracking rides.

Another strength point is that it connects parents, schools, drivers, and vehicles with a cloud-based platform that streamlines everything, from management to communication, which is why, for students, it’s generally a more suitable option than ridesharing platforms.

Alternative: 4 “Uber for kids” to safely transport your children

How Does Zum Work?

Zum’s concern is partnering with schools to create customized, full-service transportation plans for students for the entirety of the school year.

The company offers contract services to school districts across the United States, so as a parent, you don’t need to pay anything out-of-pocket for its services. The fees you pay to your child’s school cover the cost of transportation.

It collects and analyzes data to find school schedules, student locations, and traffic conditions. Based on it, Zum designs and optimizes routes for its fleet of cars, so your child is always going to be on time—at school and home.

All Zum vehicles are equipped with seat belts, GPS tracking, and emergency alerts.

As a parent, you’ll receive notifications about your child’s upcoming rides and can track their progress in real-time through the app, so you’re always in the loop regarding their whereabouts. You can communicate in-app with your child’s driver, too.

The platform also gives school administrators useful reports on drivers, routes, and performance, and parents can leave feedback about every such aspect for future improvement.

How to Get Started With Zum

First, make sure Zum is available in your district or has a contract with your child’s school.

  1. Download the Zum app.
  2. Create profiles for your child, specifying pickup and drop-off locations, any special needs, and preferred communication methods.
  3. Book rides for your children. These can be one-time or recurring throughout the entire school year.

Where Does Zum Operate?

Zum started operations in California in early 2016 but has since expanded into major cities in the United States. It’s not available everywhere yet, but its popularity and availability are growing as more districts adopt its service.

Last year, the second largest school district in the United States, with over 650,000 students across 1,000 school campuses, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), partnered with it.

Currently, it works with public schools, private schools, and charter schools in some of the biggest school districts in the United States, including:

  1. Los Angeles Unified
  2. San Francisco Unified
  3. Oakland Unified
  4. Howard County Public School in Maryland
  5. Dallas Independent
  6. Seattle Unified
  7. City of Chicago

Core Features of Zum

Parents are choosing Zum over carpooling services and ridesharing apps like Uber because of its powerful features.

1. Real-Time Tracking

Each Zum vehicle is equipped with a live bus map that lets you know the exact location of your child’s school bus at all times. You’re always in the loop when your child cannot be dropped off due to unsafe stops or the absence of a guardian.

2. Automated Notifications and Alerts

The Zum app gives parents instant updates on pickup times, delays, drop-offs, and even safety protocols like seatbelt reminders. You also get automated alerts for route changes, student ride cancellations, snow days, and more.

3. Two-Way Communication

Zum lets you know who your child’s drivers are, and every driver can access the child’s profile to learn about them and their parents. Parents can easily send messages to the drivers through the app for any changes or updates.

4. Vehicle Safety Technology

Zum employs pre-trip and post-trip Daily Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR) to ensure your child’s safety.

Every Zum driver submits electronic reports of their vehicle’s condition before and after each ride to ascertain its safety. That’s how the company ensures that no unhealthy vehicle is serving your child’s transportation needs.

5. Eco-Conscious Vehicle Fleet

School bus diesel exhaust isn’t only harmful to the climate, but it’s also detrimental to your child’s health.

Zum is committed to sustainability, so your child’s health won’t be a concern. The company also plans to offset 100% of emissions from its fleet in 2021, so most of its vehicles are electric, and it promises to go 100% EV by 2027.

6. Insight and Report

Zum’s technology provides school administrators with real-time and recorded data that ensures transparency and accountability.

This data aids their decision-making; the company is always looking for ways to improve its operations, routes, and resource allocation.

Brett’s Take: Thoughts From an Expert

After doing a deep dive into the company, we understand it to be a legit company that offers exactly what they market themselves as – reliable, affordable student transportation that gets kids to school on time.

However, some parents would disagree. The biggest complaint that parents have is Zum being late to pick up and drop off their children.

Typically, you’ll hear this issue particularly related to the company’s tracking technology, which doesn’t always work super well.

While the company definitely has their systems dialed in, I’d suggest working out some type of communication cadence with your children – such as a “touch base” call if the bus happens to be behind schedule.

When the reliability issue comes up, you’ll also likely hear the names of competing services mentioned, such as TTC, YRT, and Go Transit.

These alternatives seem fairly dialed in, having mastered time management and sufficient preventative maintenance that helps to avoid delays.

My Suggestion: Try it for yourself. The internet is packed with parents that love to complain.

Overall, the service is reliable and safe, but in rare cases, issues arise. I suggest trying it for yourself and making your own judgements.

Wrapping Up

Zum offers flexibility, transparency, and access to real-time information to ensure your child’s journey to and from school is convenient and safe.

It isn’t just another way to get your child to school. It’s a safe and reliable way to do it. But if you’re looking for an alternative, HopSkipDrive might be worth checking out. Have a look at this guide for a detailed Zum vs. HopSkipDrive comparison.

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