Feeling the void
Uber and Lyft left Austin in 2016 and during regular times of the year, the ride share apps native to Austin, can probably handle the demand with ease but during festivals, the apps are failing, and failing miserably.
With SXSW in full swing and an influx of 72,000+ people (stats from 2016), the void created when Uber and Lyft departed is being felt.
Not so fast, Fasten
On Saturday March 11th, the first day of the festival, Fasten, the most widely used app crashed. The CEO, Kirill Evdakov, stated that the app was poised to be able to handle a 5x increase but that the app had seen a 12x increase and couldn’t keep up with demand.
Evdakov said in his statement on Facebook that “Hopefully ~1 hour of intermittent service issues (out of the 240 total hours of SXSW) won’t ruin your (and that of local riders and SXSW visitors) experience.
What’s being over shadowed by the crash (the subsequent crashes), are the massive price surges that are taking place.
Crashing our wallets
In images and tweets shared on facebook and twitter by pissed off users such as Amanda Coolong (@acoolong), a 7 minute/2 mile ride was estimated at between $10 and $12 dollars, but when booked jumped to between $43 and $51 dollars.
Another user Roeland Pater (@roelnd) showed his 8 minute ride estimate at between $70 ad $83 dollars.
Fortunately for Evdakov and Fasten, since the normal users of Austin have no real choice in the matter, as Uber and Lyft opted to leave the city, Fasten and a few lesser used apps will be sticking around.
Unfortunately for Evdakov, in a post written by Richard Bagdonas, posted in Austin Tech Alliance, Bogdonas states:
“This was posted today from a friend who came to Austin from SFO. He has 29K followers on Twitter and 4k on FB. Moreover he is a writer.Fasten, the local, popular ride service that has replaced Uber and Lyft, has essentially gone to surge pricing and seems to be screwing drivers. My driver saw that I was being charged $14 for my $2 ride but it was 25 on PayPal that is 12x the usual rate, worse than Uber ever overcharged me.”
“We need to get mainstream ride sharing back.”
And this isn’t the only influential person to complain.
Pedicabs be petty
For those festival goers staying downtown or simply those too tired to walk, there have always been the option of pedicabs – which typically run off of tips.
Now all pedicab providers seem to be charging a fee plus optional tips but the fee schedule isn’t posted anywhere and it’s leaving users feeling swindled.
Benn Rosales, CEO of The Real Daily/The American Genius was taken THREE BLOCKS and the driver demanded $10 per person, and another longer ride said it would be $5 per person with tips optional). After googling all the pedicab services in Austin, not one website states a fee schedule.
Car2Go is a no-go
Car2Go, which has a fairly decent footprint in the city is seeing an uptake in sign-ups and use as an alternative to cabs and ride shares for it’s relatively low cost. Their 2 person, smart car version is $.41 a minute with a 23-minute trip costing $11.92 including the $1.08 driver protection fee.
The company, owned by Mercedes Benz also has the option of using a Mercedes Benz 4 and 5 seater CLA or GLA at just $.47 a minute.
Car2Go has been great for locals who want to drive downtown but not pay the fees to park, especially during SXSW when parking rates can get as high as $100.
Back to the basics
As a last resort, many people are going back to cabs.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Austin holds a number of world acclaimed festivals each year, something needs to happen and fast” quote=”With Austin holding a number of world acclaimed festivals each year, something needs to happen and it needs to happen fast.”]
Either Fasten and it’s cohorts need to step up or the city council need to reevaluate the regulatory decisions that led to Uber and Lyft opting out.