Best Bay Area Ride Sharing Services for Families
Courtesty of Kango
App-based ride-hailing services have made traversing the San Francisco Bay Area without your own wheels easier than ever before – as long as you don’t have a young child in tow. But parents aren’t being completely left out with Kango and other ride-hailing services created with kids in mind.
Parents of young children have been largely left out of the rideshare revolution because of the child safety seat burden. Despite a common misconception that child seats aren’t required in taxicabs and other passenger vehicles, the California Highway Patrol says there are no exemptions to California’s child safety law that requires children to ride in a car seat or booster until age 8 and a rear-facing car seat until age 2. A ticket coupled with court fees can cost a first-time offender upwards of $500. The only road vehicle you can legally take a small one on without a car seat are large buses (over 10,000 pounds), per the CHP.
“Even motorhomes have belts in their seats and people can and should be cited if they are aren’t restrained properly,” says CHP spokesman Brandon Correia. “Unfortunately, making a commitment to keeping a child safe isn’t convenient or easy, but nothing about having kids is easy. If people are constantly doing a rideshare thing, they could invest in a car seat that also doubles as a stroller. There are many options on the market.”
Parents and caregivers are encouraged to bring and install their own child safety seats by the most popular ride-hailing services, Uber and Lyft, as neither company offers child seats on demand in the Bay Area. Many parents would rather drive and brave the high-cost parking hassles at crowded venues than lug around a car seat – notoriously clunky or heavy and usually both – once at their destination.
Lyft’s “car seat mode” is only available in New York City, and costs an additional $10 over the ride fee. Uber Car Seat, also called Uber Family, is also available in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and to and from certain major family tourist destinations in Orlando through the premium uberX service. For both companies, the limit is one child per car seat ride, and the child must be at least 12 months old, 22 pounds and 31-inches tall.
For Bay Area parents who want to hail a ride already equipped with a car seat, there is Kango.
Kango is one of three subscription-based digital ride-hailing services in the Bay Area that specialize in shuttling children around – to and from school, appointments, child care, sports and other activities. Whereas Uber and Lyft prohibit unaccompanied minors, these companies offer drivers extensively vetted to work with children.
Hop Skip Drive serves kids ages 6 and up. Zum serves kids ages 5 and older, and will provide babysitting for up to two hours. Both Hop Skip Drive and Zum require advance scheduling and offer booster seats; these companies also offer car pooling services.
Kango, however, is the only ride-hailing services in California insured to transport unaccompanied minors under age 5. Launched in San Francisco in 2015 and in six Bay Area counties and Los Angeles County as of 2018, Kango transports all ages and provides car seats and boosters. It also offers babysitting.
While it is most used by working parents who need help moving their children where they need to be Monday through Friday, more parents and caregivers are using it to get themselves around with their children, says Kango founder and CEO Sara Schaer. Kango doesn’t offer the same three-minute response time as Uber or Lyft, but subscribers can expect a same-day request in a reasonable time, she says.
San Francisco resident Liora Kahn says she turned to Kango last year when she couldn’t find another way to get her then-4-year-old daughter Autumn from her T-K class to her day care provider.
“The idea totally freaked me out at first. I couldn’t even believe I was considering it,” Kahn says. “I was nervous so I called, and they inspired trust in me.
“They were themselves moms. The best part about it, they were able to assign the same driver every day,” she says. “It felt personalized, even though it’s through an app.”
Tagline Malaika Fraley is a parent and a calendar editor at Bay Area Parent.