Busy American parents who don't have time to drive their kids to afterschool activities now have a solution -- ride-hailing services that cater to youngsters.
A number of new companies in the U.S. now provide rides to eight- to 16-year-old kids who need to get to school, sporting or social events. The service could prove especially useful for families who live in suburban towns where public transportation is limited.
On Tuesday, one such company, Shuddle, is introducing ShuddleMe, an app that lets the kids book the ride themselves within an hour of when the service is needed.
Before this, parents had to arrange for the car at least a day in advance. ShuddleMe still requires parental approval.
Besides Shuddle, kid-friendly ride-hailing options include HopSkipDrive and Boost, an experimental service backed by car maker Mercedes-Benz. They're seizing an opportunity created by well-known ride-hailing services such as Uber and others, which don't give rides to minors who aren't accompanied by an adult.
Shuddle is trying to avoid the complaints that have bedeviled Uber about inadequately screened drivers. In the most extreme cases, Uber drivers have faced allegations of sexual assault and other unseemly conduct.
Shuddle says its drivers undergo extensive background checks and must either be parents or have previous experience working with kids as nannies, baby sitters, coaches or nurses.
Parents can also track the progress of their kids' rides and Shuddle says its own staff also monitors what is happening in the cars on each trip.