When 9th-grader Julia needs a ride home from school when her mom's at work, she looks at her phone and waits for a driver. She doesn’t ask a friend anymore, she uses a new ride-sharing service called Shuddle.
It’s like Uber or Lyft, but for kids.
The company caters to families who need to be in two places at once. It’s for busy parents with busy kids.
Julia’s driver on Thursday afternoon was a teaching assistant and graduate student Julee Lee.
"I love meeting the kids and I really like that I can schedule it into my schedule,” Lee said.
Shuddle just launched in the Apple app store two weeks ago. Founder Nick Allen also co-founded Sidecar and says there's high demand from parents.
"My last company saw parents using Sidecar for this exact thing, but it wasn't really built for that. Drivers were confused and parents were confused. It didn't have the right insurance and I thought there's got to be a better way,” Allen said.
Parents can use the Shuddle app to schedule a ride up to a week in advance. The child will say a password that the driver also knows, to ensure they’re getting into the right car. Parents can track the trip on the app's GPS and receive an alert at drop-off. Parents are encouraged to meet the driver and can even ride along. Safety is the main priority.
"Our drivers go through very deep background checks,” Allen said. “That's national and local level. We meet them all and train them in person. They all have childcare experience which we verify through employment reference checks."
Julia says it took a bit to warm up to the idea.
"At first it was a little strange, but after the second ride I really got used to it and felt like it was very comfortable,” she said.
The service costs $9 a month, plus the cost of the trip. More than 100 drivers serve the Bay Area except San Jose, where Allen hopes to expand to soon.
Allen says he plans to expand nationwide in the future.