Prague's kid-friendliest taxi service ties shoes, zips up coats, and gets car seats right

Panda Ride wants to give local parents a helping hand with transporting their most precious cargo

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas
Published on 09.09.2020 17:37 (updated on 09.09.2020)

With the new school year in full force, many parents across Prague will return to their primary job as family taxi driver. For those expats without extended families to rely on, or cars, the logistics of getting children to activities, doctor’s appointments, playdates, and home from school can often pose major complications.

A kid-friendly taxi service wants to relieve parents of at least some of their driving responsibilities – and the stress that comes with it – by offering safe, hassle-free transport of their most precious cargo.

Panda Ride was launched in Prague in 2018 by young Czech entrepreneur Tomáš Janout.

The company began with a single vehicle and today counts 6 eight-seater vans and several other spacious and comfortable models among a fleet of vehicles that shuttle children home from school, to afternoon clubs, and other activities. 

“Children are like pandas, precious and rare; they must be taken care of with special effort and love,” says Janout of the company’s unique name and concept.

Panda Ride drivers pick up children (their youngest passenger is 6 months old but younger kids can ride accompanied by a parent) and delivers them to their destination all the while allowing mom and dad to monitor the entire journey from a handy tracking app.

But do they tie shoes and zip up coats?

Janout says the journey with Panda Ride doesn’t begin and end in the car, rather, drivers do all the things parents would, and that includes dealing with those transitional moments that can cause undue stress and result in late arrivals.

“We help kids get dressed and pack up their things and all the necessities,” he says of the service’s network of professionally trained English-speaking male and female drivers, many of whom are parents, all of whom are required to have up-to-date, child specialized, first-aid training as well as background checks.

“We do our best to think an extra step ahead so busy families don’t have to,” adds Janout.

Any parent who’s considering using the service will have one very important question straight off the bat: what about car seats, which many taxi services often install with a one-size-fits-all approach?

“Car seats are always properly installed and children safely harnessed and seats are regularly serviced by authorized providers,” says Janout who adds that for maximum safety and comfort, every child rides in a car seat designed for his or her exact height and weight.

While making kids feel physically comfortable throughout the ride is important to the Panda Ride team, Janout says that creating relationships with families who use the service repeatedly is also an important part of his business model.

“One of our longest customers is a boy who started when he was 2, and now he’s almost five so I watched him grow,” he says adding that giving kids and their families the same driver for consistency whenever possible is one of the company’s key pillars.

One client we spoke to actually said that her child has come to think of the Panda driver as a family member.

“Our little one loves her ‘Uncle Panda’. I know she is safe with someone who will take care of all the details involved on the way to kindergarten,” customer Petra Ceconikova told us. “I’m also confident that the ride coming home from school is going to be super smooth.”

Due to the pandemic, Panda Ride has seen an uptick in clients who want to avoid public transport; all of its cars are sanitized on a regular basis and drivers wear masks.

In addition to helping with school runs, the company also offers its service to companies, sports clubs, and schools–and does airport drop-offs and pickups, as well as medical appointments.

“Most of the kids see their driver as a part of the family. Over the years I have personally become friends with several families that have been my clients before, and we meet even in a non-business setting,” says Janout.

To book a Panda Ride visit pandaride.cz

This article was written in association with Panda Ride. To read more about our partner content policies, see here.