Looks like the drivers, riders, and convenience all lose in the latest battleground for Uber and Lyft in Austin, Texas. The City Council has been fighting with Uber and Lyft for years now but this latest battle could mean them pulling out of Austin for good. They proposed a change to regulations regarding ridesharing which was overturned by the public signing petitions on behalf of Uber and Lyft. Because the City Council wouldn’t agree they figured if they had a public vote on ridesharing in Austin with LOW turnout they would win and they did while riders and ridesharing lost. The existing regulations call for fingerprinting of drivers which is an unnecessary thing to do when you already have background checks. The main reason the ridesharing companies dislike it is because it discourages part-time drivers which is the entire model of rideshare. If people do not feel safe in an Uber or Lyft then take a taxi and let the rest of us enjoy the convenience of rideshare.
While this battle is going on in Austin we have put together some alternatives to Lyft and Uber:
Curb – We highly recommend this app if hailing a taxi. This basically calls a taxi for you but does it without cash being used.
GetMe has been a topic in the City Council debate as they are a new rideshare company based out of Dallas who have agreed to the city’s demands. GetMe is a pretty sketchy company as the CEO of GetMe has been kept anonymous and the prices being charged by GetMe also appear to be higher than Taxi companies. Some even believe GetMe is actually run by the Taxi companies and is just out to sabotage ridesharing in Austin. In today’s latest scandal from GetMe they sent out a carbon copy email to over 500 Austin TX drivers without hiding any of the email addresses. We also read about a driver asking to meet outside the airport at a Shell gas station. I think they may need more than fingerprints if all of this is true with this app. They may need a police officer riding with these drivers.
For airport rides we recommend Wingz rides which do not have surge pricing but only do airport drop offs and pick ups. If you want a fairly cheap, luxurious car rental to get around the spread-out city of Austin then Silvercar rentals are the best option. Wingz is offering a $1 promotion to first-time customers in Austin, TX, through July 1, 2016. The cost for qualified rides during this promotional period will be $1 for the first 20 miles; rides longer than 20 miles will cost an additional $2/mile. For every ride booked by first-time users during the promotion.
NEW Car Service for Austin
The departure of well known on-demand, ride-sharing services left a ton of Austin riders stranded and a lot of drivers out of work. To help out, Wingz has expedited an Austin beta launch of WingzAround, the private car service for around town and beyond. WingzAround takes the stress out of getting to and from wherever you need to go—a concert, business meeting, sporting event, doctor’s appointment, or special event. With advanced booking, flat-rate pricing, and trusted drivers, you can rest easy knowing a friendly driver will be waiting for you… not the other way around. And, once you ride with Wingz, you can request your favorite driver for a more personal experience. You can also get a $5 credit by signing up here for an account.
3 Easy steps to book your WingzAround ride during the Beta Stage:
In a few weeks, you’ll be able to book directly in our app.
1. Sign up for a new Wingz account and get a $5 instant credit using our link.
2. Send Wingz a ride request message by clicking on “Book now” the Wingz team will ask you for all the ride details.
3. You’ll receive confirmation along with a set price quote for your approval. Make sure to book as far in advance as possible (at least 2 hours before pickup time. 24 – 48 hours in advance is even better). WingzAround does have a $20 minimum.
Metro Bus over at Capmetro.org has a route that can take you from the airport to downtown and up to the UT campus. Not many people like or want to ride the bus and it does not run late at night to avoid drinking and driving. Austin is notorious for the worst DWI’s in the country for having one drink in your system.
The tech community in Austin has also been extremely fast to respond to alternatives to Uber and Lyft. Including a Nonprofit Uber alternative that springs from Austin tech minds. RideAustin said it will comply with Austin’s requirement that TNC drivers pass a fingerprint-based background check. That was a major reason why Uber and Lyft left Austin, arguing that fingerprinting slowed the precious on-boarding process of drivers. Ride Austin is in the hiring phase and already has an app out that looks IDENTICAL to Uber. You have to wonder how Uber is not suing RideAustin to keep it from coming to market.
While you cannot hail an Uber or Lyft to drive you somewhere UberEats is available seven days a week from 8 am to midnight. Delivery fees range from $3 to $5 per order, and a meal can take as little as 10 minutes to arrive. So while rides from Uber and Lyft are a thing of the past, a quick meal is still on the table. You can also get drivers to bring you a Postmates free pizza this week.
Keep in mind it may not last too much longer before Uber comes back as they threw the same fit in Houston but Lyft has still not returned to Houston. It also happened in San Antonio and Ft. Lauderdale (Broward Country) where they have the worst taxi drivers in America. In San Antonio, a similar situation took place with ridesharing companies last year where city adopted regulations calling for mandatory fingerprint background checks for drivers and both Uber and Lyft ceased operating in San Antonio. Then a grassroots organization called Tech Bloc formed and garnered signatures on a petition and advocated for the return of ridesharing to San Antonio. Mayor Ivy Taylor and the city council reached an agreement with Lyft and Uber to bring ridesharing back last summer.
Imagine the fate of thousands of University of Texas (UT) students driving drunk around Austin because the city has a ridiculous fingerprint requirement. Also keep in mind that Austin spends little on public transportation other than buses such as trains but want to regulate ridesharing out of town. My thoughts are than SXSW and other tech conferences should PULL out of Austin and go to an Uber Friendly city such as Dallas or almost anywhere else. Teach the city council and Mayor a lesson. Maybe turn some heads and make the Mayor resign over this. Hopefully they can get this taken care of before the ACL Music Festival this fall or before the UT Football season starts up.
Make sure to check out our full list of Airports in the country and internationally that allow for Uber or Lyft.