Shuttle buses for children in Korea are a massive industry. Nearly every kindergarten and academy has some type of bus system in place, making life more convenient for parents.
Laws and regulations around the use of shuttle buses were tightened following a tragic incident in 2013, when a child was found dead in a daycare bus. The new laws mean that a caregiver, not including the driver, must be present in the bus at all times with children. It also bolstered safety regulations, including restrictions on vehicles that are too old.
Despite this, similar incidents have continued to occur in recent years; some academies not able to afford to hire extra staff for buses, with drivers barely making minimum wage as it is. It was this context that led CEO of Edticket, Son Hongtak, to start Shuttle Tayo — “tayo” meaning ‘to ride’ in Korean.
Son had originally been preparing to set up a new academy O2O service and was meeting with the owners of education institutions, when he found out about the issues many were having with shuttle buses. The high cost of running shuttles and issues with safety were the main causes of stress for most owners.
“The more I looked into it, I found that kids were being put in dangerous environments because of financial problems,” says Son. “Our team felt both anger and a sense of responsibility finding out about this, and we decided to pivot into a shuttle sharing service.”
Shuttle Tayo shares both seats and time. While one academy is holding classes, other academies can use the empty buses and vice versa. Drivers also have the chance to boost their income by working for multiple companies and utilizing their downtime better. It’s a better deal for businesses too, who can share the cost of transport and reduce expenses.
Shuttle Tayo provides both modern vehicles and caregivers who monitor safety. Using its automatic pairing program which it developed in-house, it has reduced the time owners would previously spend organizing caregivers for each shuttle.
The service is currently being used at 31 academies and kindergartens in Wirye New Town east of Seoul. The company operates seven buses, with plans to expand into the Cheongna and Dongtan areas within the next couple of months. Edticket hopes to sign around 400 contracts and operate 100 vehicles by the end of the year.
“I want to grow the business as fast as possible so children can get to and from their destinations safely, drivers can work under better conditions, and business owners can focus on education,” says Hong.
This post was adapted and translated from the original article published in Korean by Seungho Choo. The original article can be read here.