CHICAGO — School bus driver shortages are leaving many Chicago Public Schools families in a pinch to get their children to school. Now a CPS alum is offering an alternative to the school bus — a carpooling network.
Ismael El-Amin said he identified a problem.
“We have three different locations to drop off the children we’re also working we’re also actively social,”
The husband and father of three, a Chicago Public School and Princeton-educated software engineer, said he came up with a solution.
“An online platform where parents can find other parents and offer the ride they’re already driving,” El-Amin said.
Amin launched the “Piggyback Network” with a college friend last month. It has been years in the making —but it comes as many families are scrambling for transportation options. A shortage of school bus drivers left more than 3,000 CPS students without regular bus service.
“We have a lot of parents signing up and calling in looking for the ride,” Amin said. “We don’t have as many parents that are offering the ride themselves, so if anyone is out there you have an extra seat and you’re already driving your route, you are eligible to sign up as a driver and help another family.”
Anyone interested can estimate trip costs through the website, with discounts available for bulk purchases. As for security, drivers must undergo background checks, and families have the option to vet the drivers themselves.
“The next step. once you match the route, we don’t force a driver on you,” Amin said. “You get to meet that family yourself and give your own personal screening.”