Ride-Hailing App Zūm for Kids Wants to Replace School Buses

Zūm CEO Ritu Narayan
September 6, 2019

Zūm, a ride-hailing startup that helps get kids to school, is expanding into eight more U.S. cities.

Finding initial success in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay-area markets, Zūm pegs itself as a cheaper, more efficient alternative to the big, yellow school buses hauling students to class.

"We wanted a mix of cities that are in the Midwest and the coastal areas," CEO Ritu Narayan told Cheddar on Friday.

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Zūm

"School transportation is very outdated … stuck in the 70-year-old infrastructure," Narayan said. "No innovation has touched this area yet. That's where Zūm is jumping in and essentially bringing the transportation system to the modern ages for the schools."

While there is a consumer-facing aspect to its business, Zūm primarily gets compensated by the more than 250 school districts in which it now operates. Narayan claims Zūm saves school districts 40 percent on transportation costs that would otherwise be spent on school bus management and maintenance, adding that bus drivers can be costly, too.

"There are huge driver retention issues for school districts," Narayan said. "It takes six to eight months to train a school bus driver, and when they leave, it is very hard for school administration to find a replacement."

Narayan calls safety the foundation of her company. All Zūm drivers have undergone a rigorous background check and have at least three years of childcare experience.

"Everybody has full visibility on the platform," Narayan said. "From the parents to school to kids to driver on where the ride is going and how the ride is getting performed."