ZūM CEO Ritu Narayan Explains Why Equity and Accessibility Works for Mobility Services
Getting children to school safely and reliably is a challenge as old as public education itself. But rarely have any entrepreneurs tackled the problem of updating and optimizing one of the nation’s largest legacy transit systems, now nearly a century old. It’s still common to find people at U.S. student transportation hubs speaking into walkie-talkies and wrangling clipboards as they sort passengers into gas-guzzling yellow buses.
Ritu Narayan was working as a product executive at eBay when her two children began attending school. Finding safe and reliable options for getting them to campus was sometimes so difficult that anytime those options would fall out, she would be on the verge of leaving her job.
Bearing in mind that her mother in India had set aside a career to raise Narayan and her three siblings, she founded Zūm in 2016 with brothers Abhishek and Vivek Garg to optimize routes, create transparency and make school commutes greener; since then, Zūm has operated in several California districts (including San Francisco), as well as in Seattle, Chicago and Dallas. In Oakland, Zūm has optimized routes to reduce the previous bus requirement by 29 percent, with the balance being serviced by midsized vehicles.