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ShuttleBee -- group transportation for kids

Transporting kids requires specialized support and planning. ShuttleBee is designed to make safety our top priority.

Photo of kristina Fahl
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Families, schools and organizations all have the need to transport children.  How many schools have empty seats on their vehicles, or routes that are longer than an hour? ShuttleBee merges the needs of families, schools and organizations to create shorter more cost effective transportation options for smaller groups who may not otherwise have viable, legal and fully-insured solutions.  

ShuttleBee provides best-in-class service by filling in the technology gap, building solutions when none exist to create a seamless transportation experience.

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

Parents, schools and organizations enroll with huttleBee, and we are unfortunately turning customers away. The current journey begins with an inquiry form, asking where a child is routinely heading and when. We'll coordinate that inquiry with others, merging pickups and drop offs for small groups (between 9-14 students or less over a 1.5 hour circuit). Once a route is offered, families sign a contract for the school year. We work to acquire a vehicle, hire and train our drivers. Drivers first undergo a test with Diagnostic Driving, an PA-based entity that is currently administering driving tests in Ohio. Drivers continue the vetting process, which covers over thirty hours of training. Families are on-boarded using our existing tech for GPS tracking and to monitor driver activity. ShuttleBee manages active dispatching, viewing pictures to ensure that boosters are used correctly, for example.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Pilot - you have implemented your solution in a real-world scenario

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

ShuttleBee is managed by Founder Kristina Fahl (me), with wing-parents and advisers from the Philadelphia community who regular consult. John Fahl, dedicated co-founder, Navy Veteran and IT Principal, is part-time-plus and weighs in to all strategic decisions. I started my marketing career as an intern, and spent 17 more years in the financial services industry. I worked as a VP at a large financial institution, focused on talent development and process improvement.

Size of your team or organization

  • 2-10

Funding Request

  • $100,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

ShuttleBee has authority from the Public Utility Commission to operate in Pennsylvania, so we'd look to update our license to include new coverage areas. Our first mission is safety -- which is why we've put our resources into training, research and development. While most of our customers have originated from inbound leads, we'd work to put resources in place to evaluate the most obvious gaps in our new region's transportation solution and creating a marketing plan to address that gap. We know that while the business is the same, the levers will change as we move into new geographies. Most of our funding would go towards a Relationship Manager who would oversee operations, develop communication plans and manage resources to ensure that we've maintained the same high-level of service in a new location. All our talent pool is local -- from tech to vehicle procurement. We'd look to find our Pittsburgh counterparts to expand our expertise.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Our KPIs revolve around safety first. Second to that, we'd measure customer and driver satisfaction through attrition. On a more granular level, ShuttleBee will be successful on the basis of vehicle utilization, and our ability to serve multiple verticals within the same space. A successful model would utilize vehicles at 8-10 hours per day, and offer one full-time role per vehicle. We believe the success of ShuttleBee will also come from community financing. We'll look to expand ShuttleBee as an employee benefit to large employers who can assist with vehicle financing, with minimum amount of cost incurred by the supporting entities.
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Attachments (3)

Student Transportation and Educational Access.pdf

The impact of transportation on school quality, and how transportation can impact school choice.

CC+SYellowBus2014.pdf

Among several salient points, this article illustrates the impact of "federal regulations (e.g., the “tripper” rule) that prevent public transit agencies from competing with privately provided yellow-bus service."

CC+S_2015_HTE_REPORT_.pdf

Access to transportation can inform educational opportunity. This study highlights work that increases public transit uses and focuses on development near schools.

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Photo of David Tinker
Team

How will your project address the needs of school-aged students with disabilities?

Photo of kristina Fahl
Team

David, many thanks for the question. We've given this much thought and admittedly have miles to go in this area. As an emerging company, we've been supporting children with disabilities on an individual basis. In the ideal future state, we'll adopt measures that are created by industry leaders in this space.

Supporting special needs children with transportation solutions is such a critical issue that deserves thoughtful attention.

Here is how our onboarding process works: after a child is offered a seat on a vehicle, we review information forms that we receive from parents and provide specific training for drivers as needed. We've found that we need to provide child-care training in some circumstances, which is outside of training that standard transportation companies often require. We're also looking to acquire an ADA-supported vehicle that can support physically handicapped children.

We're careful not to cross the line into para-transit, which is activity not covered by our license at this time.

We've also been in conversations with schools that serve special needs children to understand the scope of support that would be helpful. One interesting challenge is that many public schools to not appear to have funding earmarked specifically for special-needs transportation, though the need is absolutely there. The availability of earmarked funding varies by region.

Most specifically, the nature of our business design supports children with special needs: small groups, individualized attention, excellent drivers who have the skillset to work with children, and who are not working against timing constraints. We are absolutely working to provide more robust solutions, but the nature of this offering has appealed to families and to organizations who serve special needs children.

Finally, there's a company that is excelling in this space. http://www.fortpointcapital.com/news/van-pool-acquires-special-needs-transportation-business-clinton-livery

If you or anyone you know interested in supporting our research efforts in this area, thank you for putting me in touch!

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