HopSkipDrive operates ride sharing services for children

HopSkipDrive operates ride sharing services for children

HopSkipDrive, which bills itself as a child-safe ride sharing service, announced on Tuesday that it closed a $7.4 million round led by school bus operator Student Transportation Inc.

Student Transportation of Wall Township, N.J. will work with Santa Monica-based HopSkipDrive to expand its ridesharing services inside and outside of California as an alternative to school bus transportation, particularly in areas where there aren’t enough students to fill a bus.

Drivers for HopSkipDrive are background checked, finger printed and must have experience working with children. The ridesharing service currently operates in Los Angeles, Orange County and the San Francisco Bay Area. Student Transportation’s buses transport 1.25 million children to and from school every day, the company said in a press release.

HopSkipDrive has ridesharing and carpool agreements with more than 200 schools, said Joanna McFarland, chief executive of the service. In some cases, the schools pay for the carpools and in others parents pay the school helps organize.

“We work with private schools, charter schools, as well as other organizations, and we help them setup carpools and rides to and from school or to other activities,” McFarland said. “We see this as a real opportunity to accelerate those partnerships and to work with Students Transportation Inc. where they are (already) partnering with schools.”

Denis Gallagher, chief executive of Student Transportation, will join HopSkipDrive’s board of directors and will work with the rideshare company to expand its partnerships with schools in new markets, as part of the investment.

Existing investors including FirstMark Capital, Upfront Ventures, as well as new investors Skyview Capital and Halogen Ventures, also participated in the investment.

Technology reporter Garrett Reim can be reached at greim@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @garrettreim for the latest in L.A. tech news.