The convenience of being able to use ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have made travelling immeasurably easier, especially if you live in a larger city like New York or Chicago. It's cheap, convenient, and just a tap of your smartphone away. If you're an adult on your own or with a few friends, that is. If you're trying to grab a lift with kids, the car seat rules for Uber and Lyft can vary a little, and the last thing any parent wants is to get stuck without a car seat.
When you're travelling with kids, as many of us will be doing over the coming holidays, it can be a tricky thing to arrange transportation. Whether you live in a larger city or plan on travelling to one, lugging small children around is usually an entire adventure of its own. Especially if you have to cart around your own car seat, luggage, a toddler who probably won't feel like cooperating, etc. Unfortunately, if you are planning on using Lyft, you will be expected to bring your own car seat in most areas. According to the Lyft website:
We're happy to give kids a ride as well as adults as long as your children have the proper car seats that fit legal requirements in your state and city. Plan on providing your own car seat for children that require one.
Lyft does, however, offer car seats upon request in New York City for an extra 10 dollars... simply click the car seat option in the app.
Uber has implemented Uber Car Seat (also known as Uber Family) for its uberX vehicles. For an extra surcharge, usually around $10, a single car seat will be made available in the few cities that are included in the program. Uber Car Seat is available in New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Orlando.
According to the Uber website, there is a small catch; car seats are forward-facing and not suitable for children under 12 months:
Uber Car Seat provides uberX vehicles equipped with a car seat. To request Uber Car Seat, tap the 'car seat' option after selecting the uberX vehicle type. A $10 surcharge is added to uberX pricing for Uber Car Seat trips. Uber Car Seat provides one forward-facing car seat for a child who is at least:
12 months old AND
22 lbs. AND
A child is too big at 48 lbs. or 52 inches.
To access Uber's helpful Uber Car Seat option, you simply open your Uber app, tap the Car Seat button above the uberX option, and set your pick-up location and request. If you're new to Uber, you can sign up and your first Uber Car Seat request will be offered free of charge.
The unfortunate reality of ride-sharing services is that, unless you live in one of the four cities where Uber Car Seat is available, you're going to have to get comfortable travelling with your own car seat. You would likely be turned down by a driver if you don't have a car seat for your child, as the legal ramifications for them would be daunting (not to mention the safety concerns). Or if you are travelling with more than one child, a child under the age of 12 months, or smaller than 22 pounds and 31 inches.
As convenient, inexpensive, and efficient as Uber and Lyft clearly are, it's still a tough haul for parents with young kids. Because let's face it; if you're planning on a day trip to an amusement park or a museum and want to take an Uber or Lyft, chances are you're going to be chained to that car seat (or car seats, even) all day.
Here's hoping both Uber and Lyft start to offer more car seat options in the very near future.
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