This Startup Is Reinventing the Yellow School Bus. Here’s Its Playbook for Winning Over the Hardest Customers (Like Public Schools).


How do you drive a big yellow school bus with 70 kids goofing around in the back every day? “You just gotta tune out the noise,” shrugs Marllury Urbina, who’s been doing it in and around San Francisco for 22 years.

She’s always loved the job, but it’s come with stress. Out the door at 4:50 a.m. every day, she got used to maneuvering hilly city streets with one hand on the wheel while the other held a sheet of paper with directions for changing routes. There were student names to memorize, and antsy moms and dads to please. People always wanted to know — was she late? Did she already come and go? She had no way to communicate with parents, so she just started getting out of the bus and drawing an X in chalk on the ground, as if to say, Yes, the bus was here.

Urbina saw the world start to change. Uber coordinated fleets of cars. Google Maps made directions easy. But the school bus industry was stuck using paper and chalk-drawn X’s. And then, finally, it seemed progress would come for the buses too — or maybe not?

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