A new app-based, child-safe transportation service called HopSkipDrive announced its launch in the Dallas Fort-Worth metroplex Sept. 30.
The service was founded in 2014 by three moms in Los Angeles, California, and has since been providing transportation to children ages 6 and older. The service now operates in 12 markets across seven states.
"Dallas and Fort Worth are young, vibrant cities that continue to attract busy, working parents," Joanna McFarland, co-founder and CEO of HopSkipDrive, said in a Sept. 30 news release. "With more people flocking to DFW than any other metropolitan area in the country, the region is in need of more dependable and flexible transportation solutions for families. We're excited to give DFW parents peace of mind and provide families with safe, reliable rides throughout the region."
HopSkipDrive is meant to offer a safe form of transportation for children traveling to and from school, work, after-school activities, extracurriculars or anywhere else they need to go.
McFarland said she and the other founders designed the service with their own children in mind by including safety measures that they would require as parents.
Potential drivers are required to go through a rigorous vetting process, according to McFarland. Every driver must have at least five years of caregiving experience and pass a 15-point certification process, which includes fingerprinting, background checks, driving record checks and an in-person meeting. According to McFarland, at least 100 drivers have been approved in the DFW area so far.
Trips can be scheduled on the HopSkipDrive app or website and must be booked at least eight hours in advance. Reoccurring rides can also be set. Parents are able to monitor their kids’ rides by receiving text notifications throughout the trip. In addition, HopSkipDrive’s Safe Ride Support team, which is staffed by former 911 operators, EMTs, nurses and parents, monitors each ride in real time.
According to HopSkipDrive, the service is now available in Dallas and Fort Worth and is expected to be available in surrounding suburbs and mid-cities later in October. Irving, Grapevine, Keller, Coppell and other cities in that area are expected to be serviced by Oct. 9, and cities such as Richardson, Plano, Frisco, McKinney and others in that area will be serviced by Oct. 28.
HopeSkipDrive has also partnered with some area school districts, including Keller ISD, to accommodate children who do not fit into traditional bus routes, such as children in foster care, McFarland said.
"Keller is excited to partner with HopSkipDrive," Leigh Cook, director of federal programs and academic compliance at Keller ISD, said in a HopSkipDrive news release. "Not only will this help to reduce the district's overall transportation costs, but offering this service to students with specialized transportation needs will help to shorten commute times—meaning less time in transit and more time learning.”
According to McFarland, rides start at $17 and increase in cost depending on time and distance traveled.
For more information on HopSkipDrive, download the app or visit the website here.