Interview with Godfrey Ryan, CEO at School Transport Specialist: Kura

Kura is an innovative, growing transport technology business, formed in 2011, that facilitates safer, greener, smarter shared travel. We provide technology-enabled transport solutions to schools and businesses, working with a national network of the highest quality, vetted coach operators across the UK.

Patchy provision and a lack of choice of home-to-school transport, and concerns around children travelling to school without close supervision – coupled with fears around infection due to COVID-19 more recently – have led to an over-reliance on cars amongst parents, creating congestion and unsafe levels of air pollution outside schools.

We created Kura to reverse this toxic trend by revolutionising the operation of dedicated home-to-school transport fleets through the use of innovative technology, aiming to increase pupil uptake of shared school transport from 20% to 50% by 2022.

A notable update to our service in 2020 was the introduction of a new self-serve offering to schools, which can be implemented at any time of year. This means the Kura portfolio now comprises of three distinct levels of service, ranging from:

1. Software only
2. Full management of a school’s daily service with live tracking of existing operators
3. Fully outsourced service including live daily service tracking, proactive parent comms, route planning plus sourcing and management of Kura transport operators.
 
 
UK's largest school transport provider Kura launches self serve offering
 

What was the original idea behind the company?

 
School travel, having remained virtually unchanged for decades, was in dire need of a rethink. Pre-COVID, the school run was a major contributor to the UK’s carbon footprint and was responsible for a quarter of rush-hour traffic – creating serious issues such as deadly air pollution and congestion around the school gates. For example, we conducted research which found that almost half (48%) of parents thought the traffic fumes around their child’s school were a safety risk.

If the UK is to meet its legally-binding Paris climate commitments by 2050, this needs to change. This is why Kura was created – to drive the safer, greener, smarter school-run revolution.

I joined the business recently to spearhead the next stage of its growth. We’ve had an extremely successful year in the industry given the tremendous amount of disruption that has faced our key markets, and now is the time to capitalise on this initial momentum and continue to establish ourselves as the true market leader in the field of school and corporate transport technology.
 

 

What can we hope to see from Kura in the future?

 
Especially as children begin to return to school in earnest this Spring, demand for vehicle and pupil tracking technologies that enable pupil safety are only likely to increase as parents and schools require greater transparency around children having arrived safely each day.

We predict a similar step-change as workers return to offices, which is why we are adapting the Kura technology to make it more available to our corporate customers. Through this update, businesses can enable their employees to use a new passenger app to make bookings and payment through their mobile devices, with plans being to launch the service later this year.

A crucial hurdle for many employers, when returning to work, will be employees fear of starting to use public transport again, especially during high peak times when overcrowding is most likely to occur. With 31% of employees nationally, rising to 51% in the capital, saying they are anxious about the commute when returning to work, businesses all over the country will have the complex task of reassuring their employees that returning to work is a viable option while also ensuring the health and safety of all.

Through its leading edge technology Kura’s vision is to empower schools and businesses across the country to provide safer, greener, smarter travel for their students or staff.