Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Zum uses a mix of cars, van and school buses to get kids to school on time. Photo: courtesy of Zum

The pandemic accelerated changes in the education system, and now that many U.S. school systems are reopening or planning onsite teaching for the fall, the school transit system is evolving, too.

What's happening: Zum, a California-based startup that launched six years ago as an Uber-like ride service for families with children, is now working directly with school districts to modernize student transportation.

  • It developed a mobile platform for route planning and optimization that includes tracking software to let school officials and parents monitor every student's trip to and from school each day.

The big picture: Student transportation is the largest mass transit system in the United States — a $28 billion industry — and for most districts, it's the second-largest budget item after teacher’s salaries.

  • But it's inefficient, leading to long travel times for many kids and unexpected delays that trickle down to classrooms and communities.
  • For example, teachers have to slow down an entire class when students are late, and parents need to juggle irregular drop-off and pickup times. Drivers face inconsistent schedules, too.

The details: Co-founder Ritu Narayan and her brothers started Zum because of her own challenge getting her two children to and from school while working a demanding job at eBay.

  • Originally targeting the ride service toward busy parents like herself, the startup later shifted gears to provide comprehensive transportation services to school districts.
  • Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, Calif., is the first district to sign on with a 10-year, $100-million contract. San Francisco is next, starting this fall.

How it works: Zum took responsibility for transporting 1,300 special education students across 87 schools in Oakland starting in April, when schools reopened after the pandemic.

  • It cut the number of school buses by 29 percent, relying instead on a mix of buses, vans and cars for efficiency.
  • Drivers get real-time route updates on the Zum app, plus personalized information on every student's needs, and the ability to report and resolve issues in real time.
  • Parents and school officials also get real-time visibility of the students' status.

What they're saying: "We used to get a lot of complaints from parents saying, 'Where's my bus?'," said Kimberly Raney, head of transportation operations for the Oakland Unified School District.

  • "Now with the app, parents can log in and track the bus. Parents are a lot happier with the service."

What's next: Zum plans to fully electrify its fleet by 2025.

Go deeper

Bezos beats Branson in space billionaires' battle for attention

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Imtiyaz Shaikh (Anadolu Agency), Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Jeff Bezos' flight into space generated more interest from the public than Richard Branson's, and both billionaires overshadowed their respective space companies.

Why it matters: Data shows an outsized public interest in the personalities at the center of the space trips, compared to the companies behind them — which could reinforce public suspicion that the ventures were partly vanity plays.

Updated 5 hours ago - Sports

Swimmer Chase Kalisz first American to win Olympics gold medal

Chase Kalisz of Team United States celebrates after winning the Men's 400m Individual Medley Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Swimmer Chase Kalisz became on Sunday the first Team USA Olympian to win gold at the Tokyo Games.

The big picture: The Rio 2016 silver medalist's winning time in the men's 400 meters Individual Medley Final was 4 minutes 9.42 seconds. His teammate Jay Litherland took silver .86 seconds later.

California's largest wildfire razes homes as 88 huge blazes burn in U.S.

Firefighters on the scene as dozens of homes burn during the Dixie Fire in the Indian Falls neighborhood of unincorporated Plumas County, California, on July 24. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Flames from California's biggest wildfire were engulfing homes in the state's north overnight — one of 88 large blazes raging in the U.S.

Driving the news: The Dixie Fire, which erupted July 14 near the origin of the deadly 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County, was tearing through the community of Indian Falls in the neighboring Plumas County, per AP.