HopSkipDrive: Leading the way to a greener future
Written by Karen Sampson
HopSkipDrive is a safe, flexible, innovative, scalable — and green transportation solution for schools. Backed by Energy Impact Partners, a global investment platform leading the transition to a sustainable energy future, we partner with school districts to help them address student transportation needs in a way that is both economically and environmentally effective.
According to the American School Bus Council, more than 25 million students ride more than 480,000 school buses each day. Most of these are regular school buses that run on diesel fuel, which contributes to air pollution and can be potentially hazardous to children’s health.
Many of these buses are often underutilized due to the mismatch between individualized student transportation needs and the traditional yellow school bus model. Student transportation logistics are becoming increasingly complicated. Schools are in need of a better, more efficient way to plan routes — and an expanded asset mix to choose from — so they can transport students in a way that is safe for the student and the environment.
The federal government and many individual states across the country have begun to address the need for environmentally friendly student transportation by passing legislation and providing funding that supports electric and alternatively fueled low- and zero-emission student transportation options.
There are many ways, however, to make progress towards the goal of zero-emission school transportation. HopSkipDrive is one solution that offers numerous eco-friendly benefits that can help schools and districts move the needle in the right direction.
Economic and environmental efficiency
Transportation is a major part of any school or district budget. And today’s students have a diverse set of transportation needs, many of which can’t be met using the traditional yellow bus. Proving safe, consistent transportation to and from school for ALL students is a necessity, especially when it comes to ensuring equitable access to education.
Many individual students — such as those with IEPs, those who are experiencing homelessness or those in foster care — often have personalized transportation needs that can’t be met using a school bus. When you’re transporting a large number of students, a school bus can be the most economical choice. But most traditional school bus routes have fewer than 13 riders, in which case a HopSkipDrive vehicle makes sense — both financially and from a green perspective.
When there are 12 students or fewer on a bus, HopSkipDrive has been proven to lessen environmental impact and save schools money — up to 40% per student.
An eco-friendly transportation option
According to a 2017 National Household Travel Survey, more than half (54.2%) of students travel to school in a private vehicle. HopSkipDrive’s CareDriver vehicle network significantly outperforms regular passenger vehicles in the progression to zero-emission.
We analyzed HopSkipDrive CareDriver vehicle data and compared it to statistics on electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid vehicles. While less than 2% of vehicles in the U.S. are hybrid or EV, 19% of CareDriver vehicles are hybrid or EV. The data is even better in one of our largest markets: 40% of CareDriver vehicles are hybrid or EV in Seattle.
Over the next few years, we will be introducing programs and partnerships that will enable even more HopSkipDrive CareDrivers to transition to EVs.
Diving deeper, we also discovered that on average, a HopSkipDrive CareDriver vehicle gets 34.6 miles per gallon (MPG). Diesel school buses, by comparison, get 8.2 MPG. This means HopSkipDrive is 4.2X more fuel-efficient than the average school bus. In other words:
Replacing a diesel bus route with 1 to 4 HopSkipDrive vehicles can help to accelerate a net-zero carbon future.
Route optimization and electrification
Utilizing our proprietary RideIQ technology platform and operational expertise, we offer route optimization solutions that help districts replace inefficient bus routes and reduce the overall number of required buses in their fleet. This, in turn, decreases the investment required to replace diesel bus fleets with electric ones.
We also create efficiency by helping school districts fill in the gaps on underutilized routes. With our network of highly vetted CareDrivers, we supplement traditional school transportation by providing a dynamic driver supply that can be scaled up or down. This helps to alleviate constraints caused by ongoing bus drivers shortages by allowing schools and districts to reserve their bus drivers for their busiest routes.
The future of school transportation is green
Here at HopSkipDrive, we’re committed to working to ensure that every student has a safe, reliable — and eco-friendly — way to get to and from school.
As we continue to innovate, grow and expand to new markets, we’ll partner with more schools and districts to help them optimize transportation plans and operations while always being a step ahead of new transportation technologies, including electrification.