Misconceptions about small vehicle transportation solutions
Written by Gabrielle Sias
As school districts consider alternative solutions to fill the gaps left by school bus driver shortages and increasing individualized student transportation needs, small vehicle transportation solutions such as HopSkipDrive can provide vital flexibility when used as a supplement to the yellow school bus. We’ve heard some misconceptions about what these solutions can or should do, and we believe we can shed some light on them.
In this article, we examine some misunderstandings about small vehicle transportation solutions and illustrate with HopSkipDrive examples. We aim to provide school districts with information they can use to help ensure they select the right solution to meet their school transportation needs.
Misconception: Small vehicle transportation solutions tend to be expensive
The bottom line: Using a small vehicle transportation partner such as HopSkipDrive can actually help school districts maximize their budget.
Districts can improve the operational efficiency of their fleet by using buses in denser student-populated areas while shifting students in outlying locations — those without other nearby student pickup spots — into small vehicles.
By moving students who don’t easily fit into a bus route to a small vehicle instead, districts can utilize existing buses and drivers on high-ridership routes. In fact, an analysis we did found that our small vehicle transportation solution can be up to 40% more affordable than underutilized bus routes.
Misconception: Small vehicle school transportation can be unreliable
With a limited supply of buses and drivers who hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), finding a substitute vehicle or driver can be challenging. Sometimes, a limited supply of drivers can result in a full-school cancellation. Since many small vehicle transportation drivers only need a standard driver’s license, not a CDL, there is a larger driver pool to draw from for small vehicle transportation providers.
HopSkipDrive's dynamic CareDriver network, for example, allows for a quick substitution when a bus driver is unavailable on a given day. Having a flexible small vehicle solution allows school districts to quickly supplement their driver supply, minimizing impact and avoiding more serious issues such as school cancellation and late arrivals.
Misconception: Small vehicle transportation solutions don’t have rigorous standards for their drivers
Small vehicle transportation solutions have to comply with all applicable federal, state and local regulations. On the HopSkipDrive platform, for instance, CareDriver vehicles must meet or exceed the standards for a Transportation Network Company (TNC) in each state. HopSkipDrive actually surpasses the strict compliance standards for transporting minors in small vehicles.
We have a comprehensive 15-point CareDriver certification process that includes not only standard background checks for childcare workers but also an initial motor vehicle history search, ongoing monitoring for new driving infractions, and a comprehensive search of county, state and national records, as well as global watchlists and sex offender registries.
CareDrivers must also have at least five years of direct caregiving experience (two of which must be child-centric) to access the HopSkipDrive platform.
Misconception: Small vehicle transportation solutions intend to replace buses
It’s a common misconception that small vehicle transportation solutions want to replace school buses.
At HopSkipDrive, this is simply not true. The school bus is the most efficient and effective tool for high ridership. HopSkipDrive aims to complement existing school transportation options to help districts address inefficient or low ridership routes that can contribute to bus driver shortages.
Our RideIQ software can help districts analyze and optimize their transportation plans to make sure bus fleets and bus drivers are being utilized in the most efficient ways. We can also help districts identify underutilized routes that can be cost-effectively filled with small vehicle transportation.
By partnering with school districts, we help to reduce the strain on their existing bus fleets and staff by creating scalable, long-term school transportation strategies.
Misconception: Managing more drivers with a small vehicle transportation solution can be taxing during ride time
The truth is, selecting the right small transportation vehicle partner can help pull strain off a district’s transportation team during ride time.
At HopSkipDrive, our Safe Ride Support team monitors rides in real-time to ensure all Riders get where they need to go safely. Our Safe Ride Support technology offers another layer of safety by spotting and responding to any anomalies for rides-in-progress. Additionally, school staff and caregivers can monitor rides in real-time using our technology. This visibility can help to reduce calls to transportation staff regarding the ETA of a CareDriver or the location of a Rider.
Going beyond safety standards, telematics data provides us with visibility on routes in progress, keeping everyone informed on how rides are going and offering a level of security. We deliver this information — along with resources to support continuous improvement — to CareDrivers on a weekly basis.
Districts that partner with HopSkipDrive benefit from these safety-driven strategies. Data shows that CareDrivers are some of the safest drivers on the road.
Misconception: Transportation staff won’t be easily able to contact small vehicle drivers while they are en route
Different small vehicle transportation providers offer varying degrees of exposure to drivers while they are on the road. While we cannot speak for every provider out there, we highly suggest that districts ask providers about this.
At HopSkipDrive, district and school transportation staff can directly reach out to our Safe Ride Support team, and can also connect with CareDrivers, during rides-in-progress.
Caregivers — which is what we call parents or guardians of Riders on our platform — can also directly reach out to CareDrivers (and vice versa) through our in-app capabilities.
Misconception: Additional transportation solutions create additional strain on transportation teams
As a leading transportation solution partner that has worked with more than 400 school districts across the country, HopSkipDrive is focused on taking the lift off of districts. We have multiple dedicated teams that follow every step of a ride to make sure things go smoothly and Riders get where they need to go.
The real-time ride support from HopSkipDrive starts the moment a ride can be claimed by a CareDriver, and carries all the way through to when the Rider arrives and is dropped off safely at their destination.
Our turnkey solution also includes active communication with Ride Organizers (district and school transportation staff), as well as any assigned caregivers on a Rider’s account. This — coupled with the live visibility into ride progress our platform offers — helps to ensure that everyone knows where the Rider is at all times, and everyone is kept in the loop.
We'd love to learn about your unique transportation needs, and discuss how HopSkipDrive can help.