Posted on October 16, 2017.
Civil engineering consultant Alvin Phua is among those who have signed up to be a Schoolber driver.
“I am committed as long as my daughter is schooling, so I guess that’s pretty committed,” said the 54-year-old who drives his daughter, a Secondary 2 student, to school every workday morning.
SINGAPORE — The sharing economy has reached the school transport sector, with a new service created by a couple who recruits parents already making the school runs to pick up other children living nearby — for a fee.
Called Schoolber, it was created by entrepreneur couple Toni Teh, and his wife, Charlemagne, just two weeks ago, and has seen has seen close to 200 parent-drivers sign up. Another 1,000 parents are looking to enrol their children in the carpooling service, which will start early next year.
“Parents are the best as a demographic … to pick up schoolchildren … No matter what, parents will want to send their own kids to school on time. If we can put two to three more children in their car, and they earn extra bucks from keeping to their schedule,” said Mrs Teh, 44.
And for the children it could mean having an extra 30 minutes to sleep in the morning since they no longer have to wake up so early to catch the school bus.
The idea of starting the service hit Mr Teh, 43, a few months ago while fetching Russell, his nine-year-old son, from school one day and spotted a group of his classmates waiting at the bus stop.
Mr Teh could immediately detect a business opportunity in creating a system that will allow parents to fetch these children to and from school.
A website set-up and a Facebook post later, the Tehs found themselves overwhelmed with a slew of requests to use their service.
Schoolber will kick off in January 2017 with the launch of a phone app, which will alert parents the moment their children are picked up and dropped off. They will even get real-time updates on the car’s location during the journey, “much like the Uber app”, said Mrs Teh, who also runs a brain training and brain development centre with her husband.
The carpooling service will cost parents between S$100 and S$200 a month, depending on the distance travelled and the number of trips required a day.
Schoolber is currently in the process of matching drivers to riders, so that children who are staying close or sharing similar destinations as a parent-driver will be tagged to the same driver for the school year.
“We are equally shocked that there is such a big demand and interest for something that started as just a thought process,” said Mr Teh, who is looking to hire another 300 parent-drivers to meet the current demand.
“There are definitely enough parents driving … From what we noticed as parents, there could easily be 100 cars for one Primary School. It is only whether they want to offer their available capacity,” said the father of three.
If a parent-driver maximises the load in his/her car and pick up three other children in their car on top of their own, the driver can earn up to S$360 a month with Schoolber, TODAY understands.
A new carpooling law, introduced in March last year, allows drivers to accept payment from passengers who hitch a ride, although the total payment made to the driver must not exceed the expenses incurred for the trip, such as the cost of fuel or electronic road-pricing charges.
Under the regulation, drivers can also offer only up to two rides per day – “this works nicely for parents to send their kids to school, and fetch them back from school”, said Mr Teh…
By WONG PEI TING