Students around the country are about to return to school after the summer holiday, and they’re doing so at a time when both coronavirus transmission and the effects of climate change are mounting. Last year, HopSkipDrive, a rideshare platform for kids, had to let go much of its staff amid school lockdowns. Now, the company is betting that demand for its rideshare service will increase as parents send their kids back to school. To help fund that growth and expand into 30 new markets over the next year and a half, HopSkipRide raised $25 million in a Series C.

“We are also continuing to invest in our route optimization software, which just helps districts get more efficient and greener,” Joanna McFarland, CEO and co-founder, told TechCrunch. “By reducing overall fleet size, we play a significant role in the overall acceleration of the electrification of the entire yellow bus network.”

McFarland also said HopSkipDrive plans to use the new cash injection, which came from Energy Impact Partners, Keyframe Capital, FirstMark Capital and 1776 Ventures, to invest in electrification initiatives that will spur the company’s goal of helping its CareDrivers transition to electric vehicles affordably via partnerships with OEMs. Currently, hybrid or electric vehicles make up 19% of the startup’s CareDriver network vehicles, which are owned by gig economy workers similar to Uber or Lyft.

Unlike those rideshare giants, however, HopSkipDrive’s drivers have over five years of caregiving experience, and as a result, are predominantly women who enjoy flexible work schedules and the ability to contribute to the ridesharing economy without driving sketchy drunk people around at night.

HopSkipDrive is among a small handful of emerging startups dedicated to modernizing the public school bus system. Zūm, another student transportation service, has a similar mission statement with a different path to market. Whereas Zūm takes over the entire transportation system and even has lofty goals of acquiring 10,000 electric buses by 2025, HopSkipDrive focuses more on meeting the transportation needs that don’t neatly fit on a school bus or on a school route. 

Read the full post on TechCrunch.