Uber for Kids: HopSkipDrive Brings in $37M

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is dot.LA's 2022/23 Editorial Fellow. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Man and child riding in car
Courtesy of HopSkipDrive

In a Series D funding round, youth transportation startup HopSkipDrive raised $37 million to continue modernizing school transit.

The round was led by Energy Impact Partners, Keyframe Capital, FirstMark Capital, Alumni Ventures and Transform Capital. Having partnered with 400 school districts across 12 states, the Los Angeles-based company will use the cash infusion to build out its RideIQ platform, expand to new markets and reach more school districts.

“This funding fuels our path toward achieving our vision of a modern school transportation system, one that is safe, equitable, efficient and resourced to give kids the opportunities they deserve with both in school and after-school activities,” HopSkipDrive co-founder and CEO Joanna McFarland said in a statement.

Launched in 2014 with the intention to provide transit options for young people, HopSkipDrive’s RideIQ offers ride visibility for on-demand or pre-planned rides. Rides can service groups or individuals, and routes are optimized to focus on underserviced areas, allowing traditional bus drivers to pick up students along the busiest paths.

Replacing underutilized bus routes with smaller vehicles can help reduce the carbon footprint of school transportation, McFarland told dot.LA in an email. While efforts to electrify school bus fleets are in progress, replacing large vehicles with individual cars can quicken that process and allow hybrid or EV cars to service less busy regions.

“School transportation is not sustainable, especially considering the inefficiencies in current capacity utilization,” McFarland said. “A diesel bus filled with students may balance environmental impact with efficiency, but a mostly empty diesel bus is inefficient and harmful to the environment.”

A HopSkipDrive survey found that 88% of school districts are experiencing bus driver shortages; the company partners with schools to provide alternate transportation options. The company launched in Detroit last month and plans to partner with more school districts this year. It currently services the Seattle and Denver public school systems.

Last year, HopSkipDrive used a $25 million raise to launch in 30 new markets and won startup of the year at dot.LA's second annual startup awards.

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