WHERE PARENTS FEEL LIKE CHAUFFEURS, COMPANIES STEP IN
Techlife News|November 23, 2019
When Deb Fink heard about a company that could drive her 9-year-old son to his after-school program, she balked at the idea of putting him in a car with a stranger.
But faced with the unrelenting pressure of driving him where he needed to go in the middle of her workday, she decided to give it a try.

Now she is sold, and grateful for the handful of ride-hailing companies that have emerged to resolve a dilemma many parents face: How is it possible to pick up children from schools that end at 3 p.m. and drive them to multiple activities across town, all while holding a fulltime job?

The ride-hailing companies enable parents to summon a car — and in some cases childcare — for their little ones through smartphone apps. Among them are HopSkipDrive, Kango and Zum, hatched as startups primarily led by working moms as ride-hailing becomes a ubiquitous part of digital life. Together, the companies have driven more than 1.4 million children in 16,000 schools, primarily in California but with a growing presence in Colorado, Texas and Washington, D.C.

Sara Schaer, cofounder and CEO of Kango, says her company wants to be a solution as soon as parents run up against the challenge of juggling work and family, rather than having them wait for their child to turn 6 or 7 or 8 when “the damage is done” and “you’ve had to dial back on your career, you’ve not been able to enroll them in certain activities that you wanted to get them started early on, or you’ve had to move closer to where the day care is, or have limited your choices in that way.”

The demand for such services has been so high in some places that companies struggle to provide enough drivers. Others face hurdles convincing parents that a stranger hired by a ride-hailing company is trustworthy enough to ferry their most precious passengers. They have distanced themselves from mainstream heavyweights Uber and Lyft, which have been hit by lawsuits accusing drivers of assaulting passengers.

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