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Travel Tip: Are Ride-Sharing Services Legal?

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What’s the latest trend in travel apps? Something called ride-sharing. That’s where you can catch a ride with someone else instead of paying for an expensive taxi ride. It sounds great, but is it legal?

One service, called Sidecar, lets you use an app to find a ride, driven by a local in their own vehicle. At the end of the ride, you pay a donation, not a fare.

Some cities—like Austin, Texas—have cracked down on the service, saying they’re not commercially licensed. Seattle has come down on another rideshare program called Lyft.

There was a similar case in California, where the agency that oversees taxis and limos imposed a fine on several rideshare companies. But they came to an agreement and that translates into good news for you: The services have to provide $1 million in excess liability insurance or guarantees.

Drivers also go through a vetting process, so not just anyone can get behind the wheel. And a ratings system can actually give you more information about the drivers than a traditional taxi service.

For more information, visit driving & car-rental archives.

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