Seattle Schools strives to modernize student transportation with new bus company

Jul 27, 2022, 1:21 PM | Updated: Jul 28, 2022, 1:09 pm

zūm seattle school bus...

Drivers for the school bus provider Zūm have only been serving the district since the start of the school year, but they’ve already taken a strike vote against the company. (Credit Zum Services)

(Credit Zum Services)

Seattle Public Schools has used the same bus company for over 30 years. That changed earlier this month when the district awarded a new contract — valued at over $68 million for the next three years — to transportation company Zum Services.

The legacy provider, First Student, will split the contract, valued in total at $135.6 million over the same time period.

Zum will provide a more modern approach to how children ride the bus with tracking capabilities once they board. Students will then slide their individual cards on the driver’s tablet.

“The parents will be notified instantly once that’s done,” Ritu Narayan, Zum’s founder and CEO, said.  That will no doubt bring relief to parents and teachers once they know that their children are safe.

“Zum is a very different transportation company. We are reimaging student transportation using modernized technology,” Narayan added.

Rival to First Student exposes Seattle Schools’ fumbled bus-bidding war

She goes on to say that, when it comes to parents in today’s world, they can track their mail and track their groceries, but when it comes to their most precious package, until now, there was no way to track when and if a child arrived safely at school or home.

Zum fills that gap for parents [and teachers]. Once registered, the parent will receive an email with instructions on how to download the application and set their child up for success. One could say that Zum is like the Uber for children.

Zum’s school bus drivers are expected to be experts in their field. They must know how to navigate, problem solve, and be child-care professionals while transporting passengers.  If you are currently seeking employment Zum is hiring. Narayan tells us, that the company is seeking over two hundred and fifty employees by the start of the new school year. To apply, visit their website.

“As both a CEO and a mother, there is nothing more important than keeping our children safe, on time, and accounted for,” Narayan says. “Parents have enough to worry about in those chaotic hours before and after school. The least we [Zum] can do is give families a little peace of mind and access to modern tools from a trusted partner.”

Not all SPS kids will ride Zum buses come fall. Narayan says their hub and bus yard is headquartered in Rainer Beach, and they will serve that community, as well as some neighborhoods to the north and south.

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Seattle Schools strives to modernize student transportation with new bus company