SUBANG JAYA: It was still a year before his daughter would enter Primary One, but Patrick Francis was already thinking of how to make sure she could travel safely to and from school.
That was two years ago. Patrick was the general manager of an international company and his wife also had a full-time job.
“My daughter’s safety was paramount and our school buses don’t have seatbelts, which was a major safety concern,” he told FMT.
“I also knew that some children have to get up and get ready a few hours before school actually starts as school buses would pick them up early.
“Surely, I felt, many other parents had this concern. After all, this is the Klang Valley and it’s typical for a household to have both parents working.”
Patrick then reached out to his friend, Simon Gabriel, who owns and manages a chain of children’s education centres.
“Simon said transport was also a problem for some of the children at his education centres. There are some 10,000 public schools in this country and we felt there would be many other parents in this situation.”
At the same time, Patrick was also seeing news reports about Malaysians losing their jobs because the drop in oil prices had affected the economy.
So he and Simon hatched the idea for Kidz Carpool, a ride-sharing service for children using private vehicles driven by carefully screened drivers.
“We found that we could kill two birds with one stone. Parents can have another transport option and people can earn some income.”
Kidz Carpool allows parents to opt for one-way or return trips for their children from Monday to Friday, with charges ranging from RM120 to RM220 per child per month.
The Kidz Carpool app allows parents to keep track of their children’s journey in real time and would alert parents whenever the children were picked up or dropped off by the drivers.
Children are required to wear seat belts at all times and the drivers can carry only Kidz Carpool passengers.
To Patrick and Simon, Kidz Carpool is a “service first and business second” proposal.
“We know many people now are struggling with the higher cost of living,” Patrick said. “So our primary aim is not profit. We want to help parents and our drivers, which is why the company takes only RM20 of the fee per month.” The money goes towards the maintenance and upkeep of the Kidz Carpool operating system.
“The drivers keep anything from RM100 to RM200 for themselves,” he said.
Most of the drivers are retirees and home makers. They can earn RM2,000 a month or more.
Patrick said the service provided flexibility to the drivers. They needed to commit themselves only to a certain period of time in a day and to certain areas of operation. This allows them some freedom to seek other sources of income.