Transportation & Logistics

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Carpooling for Youth Sports? There’s an App for That

9 Sep, 2015

By: Tracey Schelmetic
San Francisco Startup Launches Ride Sharing Program for Kids’ Pickups and Dropoffs

Parents whose kids are involved in sports have long tried to balance transportation to and from activites with every other responsibility. And at some point, many have privately considered whether giving a kid taxi money would be a bad thing to do. Honestly, of only there were an Uber-like service for carpooling kids.

There apparently is an app for that. A new service called Shuddle Carpool uses geolocating technology that allows parents to create carpool routes with other parents. The rides provided by Shuddle can accommodate up to four children (plus the driver), with the riders sharing the same pick-up location, drop-off location, or both, according to a recent profile of the startup by Marco della Cava for USA Today. Rides will cost a minimum of $8 each, but the company points out that this represents a savings of between 30 to 50 percent off what a car service ride would cost with only one child in the car. Users will also be charged a $9 monthly fee. (And the company says a user’s first ride is free.)

"This new service is absolutely our number one focus," said Shuddle CEO Nick Allen, who has raised $12 million in funding for the start-up since it launched last fall. "It has the potential to bring our (Shuddle) experience to a broader group at a lower price point."

At this point, parents might be thinking, “How do I know the driver isn’t some crazed maniac intent on selling my child to pirates?” (Hey…we all watch “Criminal Minds.”) Shuddle says it has a plan to vet drivers exactly as they would childcare providers or nannies. The San Francisco-based company coordinates with California Public Utilities Commission screening rules for services catering to minors, which include using fingerprint-based TrustLine background checks.

Shuddle is ramping up its service locally, and for a while will be servicing only the San Francisco Bay area and its suburbs. (Uber did something similar before going global.) The company says its business model will result in lower costs for users than Uber, but higher pay for drivers.

“Shuddle provided the example of a hypothetical carpool ride that, taken alone, would cost a parent $16,” wrote della Cava. “But after stopping for three other children along the route, and dropping everyone at the same final location, each rider pays $8 for a trip that then nets the driver and Shuddle a total of $32.”

It will also be more fun for kids, says Shuddle CEO Allen, who is a co-founder of Los Angeles-based ride service Sidecar. Passengers win, drivers win and parents can reduce the number of times they need to run out the door in sweatpants hoping dinner doesn’t burn in the oven. All that’s left to wonder is if Shuddle drivers understand how quickly and thoroughly kids can trash the back of a car.

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