Ride Sharing at South by Southwest

Ride Sharing at South by Southwest
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Austin, Texas is an uber cool city full of international festivals that take place each spring beginning with South by Southwest. Last Thursday, a storm of tech, entertainment, and lifestyle brands joined the hundreds of thousands of people and descended into downtown Austin looking for their badges, bags, free food, free drinks, and of course ride shares...

This year, Fasten, RideAustin, and Fare were at the beckon call of your handheld device, and not Uber or Lyft. The change was mostly transparent and didn’t put a damper on anyone's plans, except one rainy Monday night when the Fasten app decided to crash for about 90 minutes — suddenly, the green and yellow cabs were being chased and flagged down by damp, impatient festival goers eager to reach the next SxSW party. Each driver I hired, whether it was Fasten or RideAustin arrived in an Austin minute and were delightful, colorful people excited to welcome me to the live music capital of the world once again. Many drivers were former Uber and Lyft contractors, so this wasn’t their first rodeo on the congested streets of the Texas capitol.

The top apps used by festival goers were RideAustin and Fasten because they had the most drivers available on the interactive map. But which app was better? Definitely RideAustin. The UI was cleaner than Fasten and much easier to navigate, request, choose size or style, and cancel rides. The animation for RideAustin very closely resembles the Uber interface, whereas Fasten’s green glow and awkward swipe left to cancel worked okay, but it was not as polished or easy to use as the RideAustin app. Receipts from both apps were delivered to my email within 3 minutes of the conclusion of each ride and with complete details, which makes it easy to collect receipts if your traveling for business. All ride-sharing apps in Austin hire only fingerprint verified drivers and have a significant screening process that is taken seriously. Fasten takes less than one dollar per ride, which means your driver keeps more of the fare in their pockets. RideAustin is non-profit, allowing customers to round up fares to donate to charity (I chose Austin Pets Alive). Fare allows you to book ahead of time and has the option to choose a driver. All three Austin ride-sharing services offer great benefits - you decide which one to use, or rotate and try each one.

...I’m just glad South by Southwest stopped providing those expensive, confusing, no-show shuttles at the hotels. Ride shares make traveling around Austin a better experience, even during festival like SxSW. Will Uber or Lyft return? Does it even matter?

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