The “Uber-for-kids” model in the Bay Area has expanded to help shuttle your children to violin and soccer while you finish up meetings.
If you've ever wished you could get a Lyft to take your child somewhere, read on. Rideshare services for kids might save your bacon.
Is it a good thing to encourage our kids to hop in the back of a stranger's car? With apps and special passwords, these companies aim to give parents peace of mind.
What to expect when using rideshare services for kids
Plan ahead by signing up and doing some test drives. If you want to meet the driver first, you'll want to make time for that. If your child is young, you might even want to go along the first time to work out the details of where exactly the drop-off or pick-up will occur.
Best results will be for weekly routines, like the two days per week that transport is needed from school to soccer for a pair of friends.
All of these apps allow parents to track the location of their child's driver and none of them require the child to have a phone of their own. Parents can message or call the drivers at any time, but they cannot respond if driving. Duh.
Kango blends the sourcing and scheduling of drivers and sitters, and background checks them all. This includes California's Trustline certification process (fingerprinting), a DMV record check, vehicle inspection, reference checks, and an in-person interview. Use the Kango app to arrange the task you need, including notes about pick up or drop-off. If you need your child babysat before or after the ride, enter your desires in the notes field.
On request, you can meet your driver or sitter ahead of time, and even go for a ride-along with a driver. Your first interview or ride-along is free.
There is a social component to the app, with groups for local schools and neighborhoods. When you browse available drivers, you can also see names and photos of parents who have thanked the driver already.
Requirements: Children under 2 must be accompanied by a parent, so if you need a driver to drop off baby at daycare, then mom at BART, Kango can do it.
Carseats: Forward-facing carseats and boosters are provided at no extra charge when requested for the ride. Kango guarantees correct installation of seats.
Pricing model: Monthly subscription ($9, first month free) plus per ride charge, minimum $16. Babysitting $15-$20/hr after or before ride.
Discount: Use code 510FAM20 to save $20 on Kango
HopSkipDrive is another option for scheduling and sourcing background-checked drivers for kids. Drivers and the kids they pick up will have a family password that they confirm upon pick up. Drivers are also identified by tshirts and flags on their car so children can easily find them at pick-up time.
Requirements: Riders must be at least 6 years old
Carseats: Children can bring their own boosters or HopSkipDrive will provide them for any riders under age 8.
Pricing model: You'll need to use the ride estimate calculator to estimate the fare. Rides for a single-family start at $18. Carpools start at $7 per family.
Zum is one more service designed to support working parents in getting their kids from point A to point B by thoroughly vetted drivers as managed through an app. Drivers will be in company t-shirts and can care for kids before or after rides. Carpools and multiple stops for siblings can be arranged for savings. Our experience test-riding Zum.
Requirements: Riders must be ages 5-15
Carseats: Parents can specify if they want a booster seat assigned to their child for all rides. Zum does not currently provide car seats for younger children.
Pricing model: Rides start at $16 and additional care can be added on at the rate of $6 per quarter hour. Carpools start at $8 per child.
Other stuff to know about rideshare apps for kids
The business community might label these services in the category of “on-demand”, but the Uber/Lyft comparison misses a key characteristic: these are not last-minute tools. To make one of these private driver-sharing utilities work in your life, you'll want to plan ahead. They are designed to set up recurring rides, such as every Monday and Wednesday for a full session of soccer, or every day for the three weeks that your child is at a camp with a 9 am start time and you need to be at work by 8:30.
One-time rides can be arranged, however, usually requiring 24-hour advance notice. Parents will be able to show their children a photo of the person who is picking them up and provide their name.
[Photo credit: Screen shot of app: Kango; Happy child in ride-share car from Zum; all photos provided and used with permission]