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Austin Officials Call Ride-Matching App Illegal
We are one week away from 300,000 people attending South by Southwest, but getting from event to event can be a challenge.
SideCar, a new high-tech hitchhiking company, claims they will be in Austin just in time for the festival.
With a click of their app for your iPhone or Android you can be matched with a person driving for the company with extra space in his or her car. SideCar claims to be a donation-based way to get from here to there.
The City of Austin tells KEYE TV what the company is doing is illegal and putting you at risk.
The Austin Transportation Department says under city ordinances, all taxis, pedicabs and limousines are regulated and permitted.
Right now there are more than 1,700 issued throughout Austin.
"We do background checks on the drivers for both their driving and criminal records. The vehicle we do an annual inspection and their insurance," said Asst. Director of the Austin Transportation Department Gordon Derr.
According to the SideCar website, the company makes sure all the drivers are licensed, insured and have passed background checks. If a rider does not like someone they can block them.
KEYE TV uncovered SideCar bought a similar company called Hey Ride that was also banned from the city.
"When we did some enforcement on Hey Ride there were two vehicles and both of them were not properly registered in the state," said Derr.
The city says it is a public safety matter and if the company is here it could face hefty fines.
City Council also passed an ordinance Thursday that would allow non-permitted taxis to be towed.
By Christie Post