<p>HopSkipDrive&rsquo;s vehicle owner-operators are vetted, screened, and trained, and they go through extensive background checks, according to the company.</p>

Student Transportation Inc. (STI), the nation’s third-largest school bus operator, has taken a minority stake in an industry “disruptor”: HopSkipDrive, a rideshare service for children.

STI announced on Tuesday that a subsidiary of its Managed Services Group (MSG) has closed on the strategic investment in Los Angeles-based HopSkipDrive.

HopSkipDrive provides customized transportation services to meet the diverse needs of today’s schoolchildren and busy families, according to the company. That includes getting students to sports, band practice, the doctor’s office, volunteer activities, and school enhancement activities.

Thomas Kominsky, chief growth officer of STI, will lead the company’s investment in HopSkipDrive.

“STI’s Managed Services Group is excited to partner with such an innovative disruptor like HopSkipDrive while assisting them in building new markets through our established processes and go-to-market strategies,” Kominsky said. “HopSkipDrive is perfectly congruent with our MSG strategy; a non-asset market leader that builds upon our core competencies and pulls us into new markets and revenue channels. Extending our expertise in safety, training, maintenance, and driver recruitment will immediately create value by enhancing a lot of what HopSkipDrive is already doing.”

HopSkipDrive, which was founded by three working moms, is designed to help parents get their kids where they need to go when they're not able to do so themselves. The ridesharing service provides parents with notifications at pickup and drop-off, personalized code words for pickups, monitored driver behavior, and a live customer service team.

HopSkipDrive’s “CareDrivers” are owner-operators of their vehicles. According to the company, the drivers are vetted, screened, and trained, and they go through extensive background compliance checks prior to providing service.

“HopSkipDrive is thrilled to partner with STI, a company whose reputation for transporting K-12 students to and from schools safely and dependably every day is bar none,” said Joanna McFarland, CEO of HopSkipDrive. “We help get thousands of kids to and from school and have partnered with hundreds of schools to offer innovative rideshare and carpool solutions. STI transports 1.25 million children to and from school every day, and their investment and partnership is a great validation of not only our service but also our commitment to safety.”

Along with the investment, STI Chairman and CEO Denis Gallagher will join the board of directors of HopSkipDrive.

“I’m thrilled to work with Joanna and her team to develop this business, and provide strategic oversight to help her grow and expand the overall rideshare market for children,” Gallagher said. “This is a very unique situation where a strategic player such as STI has now partnered with an industry disruptor, HopSkipDrive. ... Together, we are excited to create an improved industry model that meets the standards parents and schools are seeking for safe, secure, and reliable transportation for their children.”

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