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Why a TNC is the smartest choice for your alternative school transportation partner

Transportation network companies (“TNCs”) — or companies that create, maintain and operate platforms that individual drivers and riders access online and/or through a smartphone application — have been a prominent news item, with the recently-passed California Proposition 22 the latest to put them in the spotlight. 

While the term TNC is generally synonymous with giants like Uber and Lyft, over the past several years, a number of niche TNCs have developed to meet the needs of specific populations.  For example, HopSkipDrive is a TNC that was specifically designed with the needs of vulnerable populations, like youth and the elderly, in mind.

The innovative nature of the platform and business model, as well as the response from existing transportation businesses, have led to misconceptions, especially regarding the work of independent contractors. 

TNC drivers are typically independent contractors who use TNCs as a flexible way to provide services, and make money, on their own schedule. It’s been said that TNCs aren’t regulated as rigorously as traditional transportation businesses, that independent contractors may not be held to the same safety standards, and that business customers who contract with TNCs may be at risk. 

These misconceptions are just that — and though we can’t speak for all TNCs, we can share: 

  • How HopSkipDrive operates as a TNC
  • Why TNC models are beneficial for alternative school transportation needs
  • How we are regulated
  • How we ensure safety 

What does it mean that HopSkipDrive operates as a TNC?

Our TNC status means that our proprietary smartphone and web applications can be accessed by independent contractor CareDrivers and Ride Organizers in order to provide and arrange transportation. 

We focus on enabling rides for children ages six plus, as well as rides for elderly populations and anyone who needs a little extra care. Parents, caregivers, social workers, school transportation staff, and other qualified adults book rides through the platform for the Rider. 

Our school partners use HopSkipDrive to ensure appropriate transportation for students who qualify for special education services, McKinney-Vento support, school of origin transportation and more. 

CareDrivers are highly qualified independent contractors who use the HopSkipDrive platform to provide transportation and care services to kids, their families, and other users of the platform.

What are the benefits of partnering with a TNC like HopSkipDrive?

We believe partnering with a TNC like HopSkipDrive is the best way to provide alternative transportation and transportation for anyone who needs a little extra care.  Our customers say they enjoy using the technology to easily schedule rides, the scalability and flexibility of our operation, as well as the cost-savings of a pay-for-what-you-use model.

In contrast, school transportation partners such as broker companies, may have  years of experience in the marketplace, yet lack some of the innovations and safety measures that make TNCs a quickly-growing  choice for student transportation.

Scalability

HopSkipDrive rides scale based on demand: there are always more CareDrivers available in the area so as your demand scales so can we.

A flexible driver supply means that your scheduled rides will always be filled, as long as we get eight hours notice. Driver supply will increase and decrease with your needs rather than paying an employee for a set number of hours. This leads to increased reliability and ensuring no child is left without a ride. 

In contrast, companies with a set number of employees can’t easily scale with your ride volume — the existing driver base can’t be increased when you experience a sudden influx of new rides.  If you do need to add on or cancel rides, traditional alternative transportation solutions are built so that drivers are either left without work or more need to be hired… a process which takes far longer than the eight hour lead time we offer.

HopSkipDrive is not only 60% less expensive than our previous car service solution, but far more reliable. We had worked with HopSkipDrive for only a few weeks before we quadrupled the number of students riding with their CareDrivers, and we’ll continue to expand district ridership with them.

— Mike H., Former Director of Transportation at Littleton School District

Cost-efficacy

The flexible TNC model means our clients only pay for the rides they book. In addition, customers don’t have to pay for rides cancelled 24 hours in advance.

Clients never pay for hours in which a vehicle sits empty. They also won’t pay storage or maintenance costs on a vehicle. While school buses are of course necessary for large-scale transportation operations, it doesn’t always make sense to have a vehicle, or full-time employees, for every purpose.

More flexibility

Customers can schedule rides for any time they want. It may not be efficient for a school bus to take one child to an IEP appointment in the middle of the day, but a school or parent can easily schedule a ride using the HopSkipDrive app. 

Not only [does HopSkipDrive] 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.

— Leigh C., Director of Federal Programs & Academic Compliance at Keller Independent School District.

Better technology

Our proprietary technology enables student transportation staff to schedule, edit and cancel rides within minutes. In addition, the HopSkipDrive Safe Ride support system provides end-to-end ride visibility in real-time to all parties involved in a ride, and proactively addresses any issues that may arise during a ride, such as helping a CareDriver find the right meeting spot.

Many traditional alternative transportation solutions don’t offer an application in which you can book, schedule and edit rides yourself, watch rides as they’re in progress or communicate easily with drivers. 

How is HopSkipDrive licensed and regulated?

HopSkipDrive is licensed in each state in which we operate, and highly regulated by either public utilities or state transportation commissions, depending on the state. HopSkipDrive meets all state and federal requirements, including state Department of Education requirements when applicable, in all service areas.

Many student transportation solutions aren’t strictly regulated or licensed by the state. We always recommend checking if your alternative transportation solution is licensed or regulated. If so, by who and what was the process to become approved? 

How does HopSkipDrive provide insurance when CareDrivers are independent contractors?

HopSkipDrive provides commercial insurance for all rides conducted on the HopSkipDrive platform, maintaining comprehensive commercial liability coverage which far exceeds regulatory requirements.  

All drivers are required to maintain personal automobile insurance coverage consistent with state laws, and must submit proof of coverage on an ongoing basis.

Can you communicate effectively and directly with independently-contracted CareDrivers when they’re not employees? 

HopSkipDrive has a direct line to drivers. Ride Organizers and CareDrivers can directly reach HopSkipDrive support with one phone call or chat.  Ride Organizers and CareDrivers can communicate directly with each other through phone calls. Phone numbers are masked for privacy. (More on transparency here.)

Compare this to alternative student transportation providers with a broker model. Communication means calling the broker company, who will in turn call the contract company, who must call their drivers. There’s no direct oversight during the ride, and no way to easily contact either the company or the employee driver.

How do you ensure independently contracted CareDrivers are “safe” when they’re not employees?

In order to qualify to access the platform to begin giving rides, prospective CareDrivers must pass a 15-point certification process, which includes having five years of caregiving experience, passing fingerprint-based and third-party background checks, passing a vehicle inspection (repeated annually), and more. We receive alerts for changes to DMV or criminal records and can promptly respond as that information is received.

We believe worker classification in itself doesn’t make an operation safer; it takes an organizational focus on safety through technology and procedures. Our criteria to access the platform exceeds those of our competitors, which is shown in our safety metrics. In fact, CareDrivers were found to be 75.9% safer than the general motoring public and 71.9% safer when compared against drivers for all Global TNCs.

CareDrivers are quite simply some of the safest on the road, and HopSkipDrive’s approach to road safety is data-driven, thoughtful, and comprehensive. Other companies could take notice and study what they do, because it’s working.

— Jonathan M. CEO of Zendrive

We know the newness of TNCs, regulatory shifts and increased news attention may lead to misconceptions, but we can say with assurance: 

  1. HopSkipDrive’s innovative platform model translates to increased reliability for Ride Organizers as well as enhanced flexibility for independent contractor drivers.
  2. HopSkipDrive’s safety criteria and additional layers of regulation translate to safer and more reliable service for customers.
  3. HopSkipDrive is well-regulated and the TNC model does not pose any problems for our school partners.

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And if you have any questions or are interested in learning more about HopSkipDrive, call us at 844-HOP-SKIP or visit our Schools and Districts page

Interested in learning more about HopSkipDrive’s non-routine student transportation solution?

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