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Parents using Taxi apps for after school activities a growing service area

Parents using Taxi apps to get their kids to after-school activities is a growing segment of industry business. Photo: Checker Transportation Group

Taxi companies with their own Apps are helping parents with one of the trickiest parts of the day: after school activities.

Kurt Enders of the Checker Transportation Group

“We have been getting kids to school and back home for 30 years,” says Kurt Enders of the Checker Transportation Group in Calgary. “What is new, and becoming very popular, is parents loading our app onto their kids’ smartphones so that they can use us to get them to after-school activities. Tennis lessons, music lessons, sports activities – it is extremely helpful when both parents are working.”

Kristine Hubbard, Operations Manager at Toronto’s largest Taxi brokerage, Beck Taxi, is the mother of two teen aged girls. She developed the app-based service program at Beck Taxi, so she sees it from both sides: as a parent and a taxi operator.

“Once parents have loaded our app onto their kids’ smart phones, they have options: parents can book the rides, or the kids can use the app to summon the cab. I prefer to book the rides myself, where I can see the car arrive, watch it in transit, and know when they have been dropped off,” she notes.

At both Checker and Beck, drivers picking up kids have not only the standard police background check, but also the Vulnerable Persons’ check and training required by drivers of Accessible vehicles.

Taxi companies have been doing “school runs” for decades.

“We have always offered the service of picking up kids who did not fit on the bus,” Enders explains. “In some cases, school boards cannot squeeze one more student on the bus and it is most cost effective just to send that one student in a cab. In other cases, a student may live beyond the boundaries of the route the bus is driving and sending the bus that far out for one pick-up is not cost effective.

“We have had contracts with the public boards, the Catholic boards and many private schools for those pickups for many years; parents could also book school trips with us directly as needed. It is the after-school activities using the app which is now the growth area.”

“Sometimes parents don’t know until the night before whether a bus is coming, and some mornings kids get left standing at the curb when no bus shows up. These are usually first-week-of-school scheduling issues that eventually get worked out, but we get some pretty frantic calls from working parents during these first weeks of the school year.”

Kristine Hubbard, Beck Taxi

Hubbard notes that the start of the school year can be particularly stressful for parents, students and schools as the bussing schedules get perfected and there are glitches: “Sometimes parents don’t know until the night before whether a bus is coming, and some mornings kids get left standing at the curb when no bus shows up.

“These are usually first-week-of-school scheduling issues that eventually get worked out, but we get some pretty frantic calls from working parents during these first weeks of the school year.”

Hubbard points out that while parents like the convenience of using the app, the comfort offered by old-fashioned phone and radio contact with Beck’s office is enormous.

“While technology is exciting and new, parents know that at our office there is someone who has eyes on all Taxis at all times. Parents can call us; we are in direct radio contact with our drivers. If a driver has a question, he can pick up the radio – legally and safely – and ask us.”  

Photo credit: Fred Hon