$25M in HopSkipDrive funding a breath of fresh air in the school transportation industry
Written by Aylin Cook
We’re reshaping school transportation, enabling equitable access to education, and accelerating school bus electrification.
We will use the funding to continue reshaping school transportation and for ambitious expansion projects, including vehicle electrification initiatives and 30 new market launches.
John Rapaport of Keyframe Capital says, “We have always believed in the HopSkipDrive team and product and have been impressed watching them navigate through COVID, which we think will greatly accelerate the value they deliver to their district customers.”
HopSkipDrive creates new solutions as school transportation hits a crisis point
School transportation is the largest mass public transit system in the U.S., with nearly 500,000 school buses transporting millions of students every day. The $25B industry is currently plagued by inefficiencies and a massive bus driver shortage. Pre-COVID, 86% of districts reported that the bus driver shortage was a major concern. It’s only getting worse: 80% of districts report that COVID is exacerbating shortages.
In addition, almost 30% of school transportation spending today goes towards providing federally mandated, individualized transportation needs, often for vulnerable populations such as students experiencing homelessness, in foster care, or with special needs. Economically and environmentally, it is inefficient to use a full school bus for these individualized needs, especially given schools are struggling to find drivers for regular bus routes.
HopSkipDrive helps districts solve these issues by introducing a completely new and dynamic driver supply, delivering flexibility and route optimization, and creating full visibility and transparency for schools and families, all while providing unparalleled safety technology and measures.
Our solution is now more crucial than ever: The populations who need individualized transportation experienced disproportionately more significant learning loss during COVID and will be relying on HopSkipDrive rides to return to school, enrichment activities, and services. Year to date, HopSkipDrive has signed nearly 100 new district contracts.
Salliejo Evers, Director of Transportation at Spokane Public Schools, says, “The transportation team at Spokane Public Schools is excited to have a flexible and innovative transportation solution for individual students that supports their unique educational needs.”
Given the severe bus driver shortages, HopSkipDrive is also a critical part of the solution for general education transportation needs wherever inefficiencies and bus driver shortages now leave students without transportation. School districts are using HopSkipDrive as a complement to optimize their yellow bus operations and move inefficient routes without enough drivers to HopSkipDrive solutions.
Sandra Steiner of Westminster Public Schools says, “HopSkipDrive is an amazing option in all cases where we would otherwise not be able to transport our students safely.”
HopSkipDrive Co-founder and CEO Joanna McFarland says, “School transportation is the largest mass transit system in the U.S, and it’s reaching a breaking point. With critical bus driver shortages and increased individualized needs, school districts are being forced to optimize learning around logistics. We are reshaping school transportation by complementing traditional yellow bus solutions so districts can instead optimize their logistics around learning.”
HopSkipDrive to accelerate school transportation’s route to electrification
The recent Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework proposal includes $5B for school bus electrification. Even with this funding, significant investment in infrastructure and vehicle replacement will be required for districts to electrify their bus fleets.
HopSkipDrive will play a key role in the electrification of student transportation by decreasing the overall investment required. Using HopSkipDrive route optimization solutions and replacing inefficient bus routes with short-distance, multi-passenger rides will help districts reduce the number of buses that need to be replaced. This allows districts to retire aging fleets and accelerate electrification by reducing the overall cost, while also dramatically reducing students’ time spent commuting to school.
In addition to reducing school districts’ required investment in electrification, HopSkipDrive’s CareDriver vehicle network outperforms regular passenger vehicles in the progression to zero-emission. 19% of HopSkipDrive CareDriver vehicles are hybrid or EV, while less than 2% of total U.S. vehicles are hybrid or EV. In Seattle, one of HopSkipDrive’s largest markets, over 40% of HopSkipDrive CareDriver vehicles are Hybrid or EV.
Over the next few years, HopSkipDrive will help thousands of CareDrivers transition to EVs and expand its partnerships with transportation providers that offer electric vans and buses.
Energy Impact Partners Principal Cassie Bowe says, “We are excited and proud to lead this funding round. As a VC fund specializing in the clean energy transition, we believe in HopSkipDrive’s mission and the way green initiatives are at the forefront of what they do. HopSkipDrive is creating a nationwide student transportation platform that is not only reshaping school transportation to bring more equitable access to education, but also creating an accelerated path to electrification.”
HopSkipDrive diversifies its Board of Directors
With this funding, Cassie Bowe will join HopSkipDrive’s board of directors. HopSkipDrive is also announcing the addition of regulatory, legal and policy executive Loni Mohanta to the board. She currently serves as the VP, Government Relations and Public Policy at Zillow after spending six years at Lyft, most recently serving as the VP of Policy Development and Research. Women now make up 60% of HopSkipDrive’s board.
About Energy Impact Partners
Energy Impact Partners (EIP) is a global investment platform leading the transition to a sustainable energy future. EIP brings together entrepreneurs and the world’s most forward-looking energy and industrial companies to advance innovation. With over $2.0 billion in assets under management, EIP invests globally across venture, growth, credit and infrastructure – and has a team of more than 50 professionals based in its offices in New York, San Francisco, Palm Beach, London, Cologne, and soon Oslo.
For more information on EIP, please visit www.energyimpactpartners.com.