Parents in North Texas have a new option to help shuttle their kids between home, school, sports, activities and all the other things that today’s often-overscheduled young ones get into – VanGo.
The VanGo app, a rideshare system similar to Uber, allows parents to schedule rides for their kids, ages 8 to 18, with drivers who have at least three years’ experience in childcare or education, and who have passed both criminal and driver safety background checks. The company notes on its website that 85 percent of its drivers are mothers.
"You can’t always be in two different places, obviously," said Gena Neisel, one of the first VanGo drivers in the region.
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Neisel, who has been in education for 21 years, became interested in VanGo last month when she saw a Facebook advertisement for the service.
"I was really looking at it for my own kids," Neisel said.
But the teacher, who typically takes a summer job to help supplement her income, felt that her professional qualifications made her an ideal candidate to drive for VanGo and decided to apply for a position.
A typical trip for Neisel is like the one she has done multiple times this week – shuttling a preteen from Carrollton from her home to volleyball camp about 6 miles away.
The child’s mother scheduled the ride and, through the VanGo app, is able to see when her daughter is picked up, where the vehicle is in real time, and when her daughter arrives at her destination.
On the first trip, that particular mom was waiting at the curb outside of volleyball camp when her daughter arrived, according to Neisel.
"The little girl is like, '…and there is my Mom!'" Neisel recalled with a laugh. "I was like, 'Well, let me get out and meet her.' I can certainly understand [the mother’s motivation for waiting curbside.] Her mom was actually off work yesterday and wanted to give this a try before she drove off to work."
"She just said, 'I was just here to make sure [the daughter] felt comfortable.'" Neisel said of the mother. "I totally get that. And I picked her up again today, took her to volleyball practice again. Mom was not there this morning."