Companies such as Lyft and Uber hire drivers as independent contractors to transport passengers in a private car. This is known as ride-sharing. All it takes is a mobile app, availability and having an acceptable car to use. But be careful. Not all municipalities allow these companies to operate within their boundaries. Another option is to go into the taxi business for yourself.
Preparing Your Ride
Each company has its own rules for drivers. Some are the same, some differ. To drive for Lyft, your car must be equipped with five seat belts and external door handles. You must carry in-state insurance and in-state license plates, meaning whatever state you wish to provide services must match the state on your plates. The company provides commercial insurance and runs background checks on their drivers. Your car cannot be more than 12 years old in most cities. In Portland, Seattle, Washington D.C and Minneapolis, your car cannot be more than 10 years old. In Pittsburgh, eight years is the maximum. Uber suggests your car be a 2008 model or later. It will not accept any cars older than model year 2004. While this is stricter than Lyft's policy on model years, Uber has partnered with Toyota and GM to help you finance a newer car. Uber also provides commercial liability insurance. Check with Uber about its personal car insurance policy.
- Companies like Lyft and Uber must comply with each state's legal guidelines when it comes to transportation and insurance requirements. Make sure you know your state's policies on ride-sharing.
- Not all states allow ride-sharing. Law enforcement agencies have set up sting operations to catch drivers. If your state doesn't allow ride-sharing, don't do it. For more on this, click here.
You can also drive independently in cities that allow it. Your car should be equipped with a VHF radio and a meter. Four doors are preferred. You need commercial insurance. Most states will require you to have a special license, usually called a taxi driver's license. Each state has different requirements. In Texas, for example, you must pass a background check and have a clean driving record. For specifics on how to prepare your car for taxi service, or regulatory requirements, contact your state or city taxi cab commission or your local Department of Motor Vehicles.
To find your taxi cab commission, contact your state's governing body. Type your state's name and ending in .gov in a search engine. For example, Texas.gov and California.gov will lead you to the official websites of Texas and California. From there, search the Department of Transportation. A contact number should be listed. A web search of taxi cab commission will also yield some results.