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SPECIAL REPORT


Transportation Network Companies Invest In Electric (School Bus) Future


Written By Julie Metea W


ith the new academic year underway, the world continues to fight an urgent battle to temper climate change and elevate public health. In the U.S., his-


toric wildfires continue to burn along the West Coast. Communities in southern and Midwestern states are still recovering from storms that submerged roads and damaged buildings. The summer of 2021 also marked breakthroughs in


money-backed public policy to reshape transportation and eliminate fossil fuel-burning vehicles, which are viewed as the world’s largest source of harmful green- house gases. With new public and private investments available for electric vehicles, transportation network companies (TNCs), otherwise known as rideshare, are taking the opportunity to grow their business and business models by electrifying their fleets in the edu- cation space.


EV Evolution in California School Districts California school districts in the San Francisco Bay


18 School Transportation News • SEPTEMBER 2021


area have found a way to modernize their student transportation around the goals of environmental sustainability, operational efficiency and data transpar- ency. In the process, they are also building a new kind of student transportation model centered on all-electric vehicle fleets and mobile applications spawned from California-based rideshare innovators. “We set out to transform student transportation, an


industry that has remained unchanged for 80 years. Elec- tric is inevitable, as driven by mandate,” said Zūm Chief Executive Officer Ritu Narayan, who founded the student rideshare startup along with her two brothers in 2015 to address her own challenges in finding rides for her chil- dren. “Schools have to look at it as a blueprint in a bigger picture of what electric vehicles can provide in the future.” Zūm has accelerated its business model from a mobile


app for parents to a full-service transportation provider for school districts. The company is investing in its own electrification programs (i.e., Zūm Net Zero) as a way to satisfy mandates and offer all-electric student trans- portation services for its current San Francisco Bay area


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