Saltwater Moms Personal Drivers is a group of “independent drivers operating our own personal vehicles providing transportation from hotel/airports to Galveston Island, TX. They have been making waves on with their Facebook page “Galveston Saltwater Moms” which has over 2000 followers and 38 5-star reviews! However, one of our readers questioned the legality of it, so we took a quick dive into the permitting world of Texas and examined their Facebook page, and this is what we found:
Let’s start with the About Section
The “About” section on the top left there sounds very similar to a Rideshare Company, with the “independent drivers using our own personal vehicles” which is why we were alerted to this company.
We started with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) which regulates Rideshare companies here in Texas, which is by definition independent drivers using their own personal vehicles…right?
This search came up empty. There is no company by the name of Galveston Saltwater Moms (and variants) that is licensed as a rideshare company here in Texas. This is a major red flag.
Next, we headed over to the Texas SOS, and yes, they were registered to do business in Texas on 1/13/2022. (The Facebook page was created on August 26, 2021, but we will ignore that, sometimes you have an idea and figure out you need to LLC later on, everyone is human and not all of us went to business school)
Now, let’s go over to the bottom right of that screenshot (the pricing guide)
In the fine print, you will see that there is a surcharge on the pricing for trips to and from the Port of Galveston. We should assume that these drivers are remitting this payment to the Port of Galveston legally (and not a bribe to the attendant on duty) in order to let them pass. After all, these are Moms, but as moms like to say, never assume, but that is a good sign that points to the legitimacy of this company.
The verdict is a mixed one. On one hand, we do have a company that is formed and seems to have a right to pay for Port fees. As a driver myself who has picked up and dropped off riders at the Port of Galveston, I can confirm they are very watchful and picky about who enters and exits.
On the other hand, Saltwater Moms are using their personal vehicles, and NOT commercial vehicles, which really leans this company more towards a Rideshare/Transportation Network Company (TNC) that is not permitted in Texas.
So is there a risk riding with them?
The main thing you need to be wary of is not so much getting caught by the police for getting into an unauthorized vehicle but insurance. A personal vehicle will not be able to obtain commercial insurance. The Texas Administrative Code requires that a company operating as a TNC in Texas should provide this to their riders and drivers. Galveston Saltwater Moms as a company is most likely not providing this. In the event of a major accident, you really do not want your driver to be without insurance. Yes, you can sue the company, but there is a good chance they will simply bankrupt, dissolve the company, or simply not pay, and you are left to paying medical bills, etc. out of pocket.
However, since these drivers claim to be independent, there is a chance that one, or a few of them will actually have the permits required to operate as a commercial vehicle like a shuttle, taxi, Towncar, etc. Yes, it does say privately owned vehicles, but not everyone is a lawyer and a privately owned vehicle does sound better than “independent moms driving taxis” since taxis do have a reputation of being nasty and rude compared to Rideshare drivers.
The best way to protect yourself? Ask your specific driver to show their insurance and permits stating they are allowed to pick up in Galveston and the cruise ports. Accidents happen, no matter how close you are to your destination.