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Local Dad And CPS Alum Launches Carpooling App, PiggyBack, Amid School Bus Driver Shortage

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A local dad is offering a solution to the ongoing school bus driver shortage – in the form of a carpooling app.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported, the app is not an on-demand car service or a rideshare company. The idea is to build a network of parents willing to take on carpool duties.

Right now, it is helping some parents who are struggling to get their kids to school due to the bus driver shortage.

Ismael El-Amin the man who is reimaging what carpooling looks like. He is a graduate of the Chicago Public Schools himself, and now he has kids of his own in the CPS system.

It was about three years ago when he began developing a different way to get his and other children to and from school without the daily stress of multiple dropoffs and pickups.

"This could be a way that the parents are part of the solution," El-Amin said.

A software developer by trade, El-Amin just launched the online platform PiggyBack. It incentivizes parents who use it with points to fill their empty car seats with other children who need a ride and are traveling in the same general direction.

"There's a pricing estimator here where you can put in your source and destination," El-Amin explained.

Each point is equivalent to about a dollar, and can be used for future rides.

"The software says, 'Hey on this date at this time, the route that this driver is offering is exactly what you need,'" El-Amin said.

Desirae Douma just started using PiggyBack for her child, who is enrolled in CPS, as a way to get him to and from school.

Just days before classes started 73 CPS bus drivers quit. Now, the district is short 500 drivers.

"It's been frustrating, mostly because the amount of time he's spending on the bus," Douma said.

Douma says A 15-minute bus ride became an hour and a half. Private car companies were expensive and unreliable.

So she turned to PiggyBack, which runs drivers through a background check and lets parents meet up before agreeing to carpool.

"It's basically vetting other families who are in the same situation, and then using that family to take care of that transportation need," Douma said.

It is a new way of getting your kids around — a potential solution, El-Amin believes, to the bus driver shortage facing schools across the country.

PiggyBack launched about four weeks ago, and El-Amin said at this point, they really need parents who are willing to drive other kids.

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