On a sunny afternoon, students at a small, private elementary school in Oakland wait for their ride to pick them up out front. Parents and caregivers give students’ names to the staff outside, and kids come running forward to meet the cars lined up on the street. One car stands out: a white Prius covered in logos for Shuddle, a Bay Area rideshare company for kids. The driver, Nicole, gives the staff a name and a password — a safety measure to ensure she’s the right driver — and Talia, an 11-year-old sixth-grader, hops in.
Shuddle has a lot in common with other rideshare services, like Uber and Lyft, but operates especially for kids and families. Parents sign up for Shuddle and call rides for their kids 24 hours in advance. Shuddle does a lot of to-school commutes and after-school pickups, shuttling kids from class to soccer, to piano, back home. Unlike Uber and Lyft, Shuddle uses a subscription model; membership costs $9 per month, plus at least $12 per ride (or $8 for a carpool ride).
Nick Allen, the founder and CEO of Shuddle, is a veteran of Sidecar and got the idea for the company after he started to get calls from drivers who had unaccompanied children in the backseat.
“It really exposed the need that busy families have to remove transportation as a barrier in their life,” Allen says. Shuddle is designed for these kids, with special insurance, a lengthy application and background check process for drivers (who must have caregiver experience) and a team of staff monitoring each ride in real time.
For now, Shuddle is only operating in the Bay Area, but with $12.5 million in financing, Allen says the company is looking to expand.
“2016 will be our year of getting to new cities,” he says. “Places like L.A., and Chicago, and New York, and Houston, Dallas, D.C., all ones that we’re looking into as great markets for us.”
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