Posts tagged with "Washington DC"

Forget carpooling. Zūm, a ride-hailing company for kids, expands to six more U.S. cities

September 3, 2019

Reams of stories have been written about the stress inflicted on children in today’s over-scheduled society. But what about their parents, who must coordinate a schedule to transport or carpool the kids—from music instruction to the baseball diamond to dancing classes to language tutelage, to the stationery store for poster board and paints?

What’s worse, it only takes one hitch in the day to make the whole fraught agenda simply crash and burn. So what’s a parent to do?

Now there’s a company that wants to shuttle the kids for you—and, in doing so, to eliminate (totally or occasionally) your crushing duty to schlep. It’s a ride-hailing company for kids called Zūm.

In addition to being available to swamped moms and dads, Zūm has partnered with dozens of California school districts in recent years and is available to students at 2,000 schools in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, many of which still rely on yellow buses as well, the company recently told The Washington Post.

And on August 29, Zūm —which is accessible to parents through a mobile app and claims it has already completed 1 million rides—announced that it is expanding to a half-dozen other cities around the country, including San Diego, Miami, Phoenix, Dallas, Chicago and the Washington D.C. area. Rides will begin in those locations next month.

In Washington D.C., Zūm will compete with HopSkipDrive, ride-hailing service founded by three working mothers in Los Angeles for children ages 6 to 18 that arrived on the East Coast earlier this year.

 In Dallas, Zūm will compete with Bubbl, a ride service staffed by off-duty police officers and first responders—one of many small transportation companies that have popped up around the country in recent years seeking to fill a similar niche, the Post reports.

Such companies could usher in a new era of safer, greener and more data-rich transportation for students that can be tracked by parents in real time.

Investors know that ride-hailing has already been widely adopted by young people, but with a serious caveat that could play into Zūm’s favor: Unaccompanied minors are prohibited from using services like Uber and Lyft, although experts warn that it can be difficult to verify a rider’s age.

Indeed, according to the Post, data from a teen debit card company reveal that “ride-sharing services combined to capture 84% of teen spending on taxi services.” Despite age restrictions, some teenagers use drivers with specialized insurance that allows them to drive younger passengers, the study notes. Unlike Uber or Lyft, Zūm rides are booked the day before and the service is not designed to be on-demand.

Zūm claims its drivers have three years or more of childcare experience. They undergo background checks and SafeSchools training courses and claim their safety protocols are reviewed by KidsAndCars.org, a national non-profit child safety organization. The company says its business model is fundamentally dependent on its ability to keep students safe.

When used by families outside of school, Zūm starts at $10 for carpool rides (per child for a one-way trip) and $16 for a single (non-carpool) ride. But like Uber or Lyft, the company says, prices vary depending on location and time of day. At about $20 a ride, HopSkipDrive is also more expensive than alternatives like Uber and Lyft, but also offers carpooling options that lower prices.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

‘Tanks for the memories,’ President Trump, on July 4

July 4, 2019

For a military school graduate who never served as a combatant, the July 4 Salute to America celebration on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., could be the closest President Donald Trump ever gets to the accoutrements of armored warfare.

The event will feature displays of military hardware; flyovers by an array of jets, including Air Force One, the deployment of tanks on the Mall; and an extended pyrotechnics show.

Even more unusual for the nationwide nonpartisan celebration will be a presidential address at the Lincoln Memorial that Democrats fear will ramble across political lines into Trump’s usual campaign rally palaver.

And the expense for all of this, plus the usual concert and parade—and any repairs necessitated afterwards by damage to local roads from the tanks—will be higher than ever before.

The National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country to cover costs associated with President Trump’s Independence Day celebration, The Washington Post reported on July 2..

The diverted park fees represent just a fraction of the extra costs the government faces as a result of the event. By comparison, former Park Service deputy director Denis P. Galvin told the Post, the entire Fourth of July celebration on the Mall typically costs the agency about $2 million.

For Trump’s planned speech at the Lincoln Memorial, the White House is distributing VIP tickets to Republican donors and political appointees, the news outlet reported—prompting objections from Democratic lawmakers, who argue that the president has turned the annual celebration into a campaign-like event.

The Republican National Committee and Trump’s reelection campaign confirmed Tuesday that they had received passes they were handing out for the event.

 “We’ve never seen anything like this,” Senator Tom Udall (New Mexico), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the interior, environment and related agencies, said in a phone interview with the Post. “No ticketed political event should be paid for with taxpayer dollars.”

Udall said Interior Secretary David Bernhardt had yet to respond to a request he and two other Senate Democrats made two weeks ago for a full accounting of how the event would be conducted and what it would cost.

The White House referred questions about the celebration to the Interior Department, which declined to comment.

Brendan Fischer, federal reform director for the Campaign Legal Center, said in an interview with the newspaper that while it may not violate federal ethics law to distribute limited tickets to the president’s speech to party contributors, “it certainly looks bad.”

Since federal appropriations law prohibits using public money for political purposes, Fischer noted, the issue will depend on what Trump says in his speech. If he refers to some of the 2020 presidential hopefuls, or polling related to the race, Trump’s reelection campaign may be required to reimburse the U.S. Treasury.

“The content of the event, and the nature of the event, is probably the determining factor,” as opposed to donors getting to see Trump up close, he said.

The  Salute to America marks the culmination of Trump’s two-year quest to mount a military-style extravaganza inspired by his visit to a Bastille Day celebration in Paris in 2017, The Washington Post reported. His previous efforts to stage a Veterans Day military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in 2018 were scuttled after estimated costs ballooned to the tens of millions of dollars.

Research contact: @washingtonpost