Ever felt like it’s you, not your kids being taken for a ride when it comes to giving them lifts? Carmaker Skoda has come up with the Parent Taxi app, which aims to draw a line in the sand when it comes to running children around, especially during the holidays. Instead of being driven from A to B with no charge, Skoda thinks its app offers up a prime opportunity for you to claw back lost time from your own life by getting payment in chores.
Is this an archaic step backwards to the days before dishwashers when kids had to do the washing up in return for dessert, or a forward-thinking move that helps milk the power of an app in order to ease your/their stress-addled social calendar? Skoda has spent time crunching some numbers following research it carried out with OnePoll. After questioning 1,723 parents with one or more children, aged between 7 and 17, the resulting survey revealed that parents travel on average 31.38 miles per week taking their offspring to extra-curricular activities.
Skoda reckons that this is comparable to £12,565 worth of taxi fares if parents were to charge their kids the average London taxi cost-per-mile rate, although that’s based on 52 weeks of the year. While it’s unlikely any parent would be doing that sort of ferrying around every single week, the app certainly seemed worth checking out. So we got our hands on a brand new Skoda Karoc, complete with all-wheel-drive goodness for those more out of the way locations, and waited for the ride requests to see just how realistically usable this idea could be.
Skoda’s stats flag up some obvious lift requests, with a drop-off at friend’s place or ‘in town’ being the top of the tree. Rather ironically, further down the list – closer to the bottom than the top – is a lift to a bike ride location. Even further down was ‘N/A’ or nowhere in particular. Wherever that is. The breakdown also didn't seem to have a category for ‘AAB’ – or above and beyond, which is for the call of duty when your teenagers spring it to you that they want driving to North Norfolk from the south coast for a weekend’s camping. The bigger t kids, the bigger the request, it seems.
There’s a trade-off with smaller kids though, as a trip to Legoland in Windsor makes everyone happy. Although, perhaps unsurprisingly, the parents end up being the losers here as they’re the ones who have to stump-up the exorbitant entry fees charged by attractions. And that’s even with one of those money-off coupons that everyone has saved in their kitchen drawer for a rainy day. The upside, however, is that you’re all in it together when it comes to joining those lengthy theme park queues. Nobody escapes those.
Launching the app reveals how things work, with all of your lift-giving trips recorded inside. Against that it’s then possible to allocate a chore for your child or children to do in return. There’s a solid selection featuring the usual sort of stuff that kids tend to run a mile from. Vacuuming, dusting, walking the dog, washing the car, it’s all inside the app ready for you to exploit depending on where they want to go. Presuming you're a reasonable sort of parent then the easier tasks get pegged to the shorter jaunts.
However, any child asking for a long ride to somewhere in the middle of nowhere in North Norfolk, with a return pick-up at some ungodly hour might be faced with a selection of the tougher jobs on the in-app selection. Disappointingly, it seemed like we weren’t able to add multiple chores to one lift quota. Not that most parents are slave-drivers of course, but the ability to pick say, ‘Make Mum and Dad a cup of tea’ and ‘Walk the dog’ doesn’t seem unreasonable, right? Still, there’s enough inside the app to keep them busy in return for their cozy ride to a chosen destination, rather than having to endure the likes of public transport or, God forbid, walking.
This is a bit of fun but, regrettably for parents, the Parent Taxi app seems like one of those ideas that offers potential but only a tiny glimmer of hope to impoverished parents. The reality of the situation is that getting your children from A to B is basically the thing to do; it’s an obligation. And, getting anything in return is nice, but in the real world, probably less likely to happen than you might have hoped for.
Ultimately then Skoda has come up with a great car in the shape of the all-wheel-drive Karoc, which has plenty of room for your kids and the capacity to take them wherever they need to be dropped off. Whether or not you’ll get as much mileage out of the Parent Taxi app as the car itself remains to be seen though. Thankfully, the Karoc is able to get to any location due to its permanent 4x4 setup, including remote campsites in North Norfolk. No problem. But what you get in return might be slightly less inspiring. After all, you can’t force your kids to do chores. Or can you?