Stories

SXSW is challenging Austin's ride-hailing options

Jeremy Keith / Flickr CC

For the first time in in a couple of years, thousands of techies have had to get around Austin during South by Southwest without being able to hop in an Uber or Lyft ride—and the alternatives have had mixed success.

  • Back story: Uber and Lyft packed up and left town last year after a failed campaign to reverse a new city requirement that drivers get fingerprinted. Fasten, Fare, and Ride Austin, among others, have since set up shop and won drivers over by charging them less while offering passengers a familiar service via mobile apps at reasonable prices.
  • Stress test: While these alternatives seem to have generally done well for Austinites on average days, SXSW is no usual time. On Saturday night, many found themselves frustrated as they attempted to get a ride to avoid the rain, yet the apps weren't working.
  • Counterpoint: Though seemingly a huge inconvenience, it may be much ado about nothing, as some on Twitter have argued. After all, Uber and Lyft have only existed for a few years, and festival-goers managed just fine before that. What's more, Uber and Lyft haven't been banned—they're simply choosing not to operate in Austin because it requires their drivers get fingerprinted.