In a world where you can see exactly where your dinner delivery is at any given moment, you can track packages moving across the country, and you can order whatever you want from your smartphone, there is no longer any need to accept the status quo.
Technology is continually evolving to offer new, innovative solutions that make pretty much anything you can think of easier and more convenient. And this is true even when it comes to school transportation.
Let’s make 2022 the year when school transportation staff no longer have to rely on outdated technology, ineffective communication practices and tools, and layered processes that create more work when there is already too much to handle and not enough time in the school day.
As the new year starts and many of us are making resolutions, HopSkipDrive would like to suggest a few resolutions specific to school transportation.
In 2022, stop accepting…
1. Not Having Enough Drivers to Meet Your Transportation Needs
It’s no secret that school districts across the country have been hit hard by a severe bus driver shortage. This is not a new issue but it is one that has, unfortunately, been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 80% of school districts have reported that bus driver shortages have inhibited their transportation operations. The current reality is that more and more students — including those who are in foster care or experiencing homelessness or with special needs — have unique situations that require creative school transportation solutions.
With HopSkipDrive, school districts can enjoy much-needed flexibility when it comes to driver supply by adding a new resource — a network of highly vetted HopSkipDrive CareDrivers — to their student transportation options. CareDrivers undergo a rigorous 15-step certification process, which includes background checks, fingerprinting and five years of caregiving experience as requirements (to name a few). CareDrivers also drive their own personal, four-door vehicles, which must pass annual inspections and be less than 10 years old.
2. Underutilized – and Inefficient – Bus Routes
With a decreased supply of bus drivers, you may have had no choice but to consolidate bus routes in order to meet your transportation demands. There’s only so much you can do with a fixed number of buses and bus drivers, after all. And with school choice and open enrollment trends — and an increase of students with individualized needs — you have more than likely been experiencing a lot of added pressure on the traditional fixed-route model of school transportation you have been using for years. Some of these challenges are new while others are evolving. And that means it may be time for the models you are using to solve them to evolve, too.
Take, for example, HopSkipDrive’s RideIQ route optimization technology, which utilizes data science and operational expertise to help school districts identify the best rider and route combinations — ultimately minimizing costs and maximizing resources. By supplementing your transportation fleet with HopSkipDrive rides, you can reserve your bus drivers for the busiest routes. In fact, as a solution, HopSkipDrive has been proven to save an average of 40% per student when a school bus route has 12 students or fewer.
3. No Visibility Into Ride Status
It’s an unfortunate scenario you’ve most likely experienced before: You get a frantic call from a parent, asking where their child’s school bus is and why it hasn’t shown up on time. The process for getting an answer to that question is time sensitive — and can also be time consuming, since it probably involves numerous steps on your end, including efforts to communicate with the driver to find out what is causing the delay. Once you get the answer, you then need to communicate that information back to the parent, as well as to other relevant parties. It doesn’t have to be this way for you in 2022.
HopSkipDrive’s RideIQ offers permission-based access and visibility for all users on a student’s account. Whether through SMS messaging, the HopSkipDrive mobile app or the RideIQ platform, school transportation staff have full transparency into real-time ride status. This eliminates time-consuming rounds of communication, and provides peace of mind for schools as well as parents or caregivers.
Don’t take our word for it; listen to what one of our education partners has to say about the value of real-time ride transparency:
“We love that HopSkipDrive utilizes technology to communicate simultaneously with families and with Spokane Public Schools Transportation so that we know exactly where students are in the ride process at all times. With HopSkipDrive, student safety is a priority! The technology provides for accurate and timely communication, which we love.”
—Salliejo Evers, Spokane Public Schools
4. Technology That Doesn’t Put You in the Driver’s Seat
In 2022, there’s no reason to accept outdated, inefficient technology that requires layers of process to schedule or cancel rides, make changes and communicate status updates when needed. Technology should be keeping up with you and your needs and putting the power in your hands — enabling you to add, edit and cancel rides yourself within minutes. In this day and age, you should be able to track rides online, easily communicate directly with drivers and automatically update caregivers and parents.
Thanks to HopSkipDrive’s RideIQ technology, meeting these types of unique transportation needs is now a reality. Developed in direct response to feedback from school districts, RideIQ allows for customization of operations with the click of a button, including communication preferences, pickup details, wait times and parent permissions.
5. A Lack of Transparency with Safety Standards and Data
When it comes to school transportation, there is nothing more important than protecting the safety, privacy and well-being of students. Safety is, and always has been, your number-one priority, and it’s one of many reasons why you are dedicated to following established, long-held safety processes and procedures — many of which are dictated by state and federal law.
With the safety of your students always top of mind, you may understandably have concerns or questions about supplementing your school transportation operations with alternative transportation solutions.
We understand your concerns well, as safety is, and always has been, at the heart of everything we do, too, here at HopSkipDrive. As a Transportation Network Company (TNC), we are licensed in each state in which we operate, and highly regulated by either public utilities or state transportation commissions (depending on the state). We meet all state and federal requirements, including state Department of Education requirements when applicable, in all service areas.
And when it comes to safety and transparency, we like to say we are “proactive, innovative and relentless.” Our proprietary Safe Ride Support system, our in-depth CareDriver certification process and our COVID-Safe Ride Standards are just a few examples of how we consistently exceed regulatory requirements and TNC standards. We also publish our safety metrics to hold ourselves — and the market — accountable.
6. A Transportation Partner That Doesn’t Guarantee Rides
Student transportation is a serious business. And you have enough on your plate without having to worry about a student being left stranded because a ride was cancelled — or trying to book a bunch of rides that can’t be fulfilled. In 2022, you no longer have to work with transportation partners who cannot guarantee your students will get where they need to go, safely and reliably.
When you partner with HopSkipDrive, we make sure there is no room for doubt. You’ll never have to scramble to find drivers last-minute because all rides booked by HopSkipDrive education partners are guaranteed. HopSkipDrive’s RideIQ also provides our education partners with on-demand access to CareDrivers for last-minute and emergency transportation needs.
Welcome to 2022, a new era in student transportation! Let this be the year when your school district or organization begins working with HopSkipDrive — and you stop accepting the school transportation status quo.