Attending SXSW in the heart of Downtown Austin gives you the opportunity to participate in festivities without traveling too far. In fact, you have the option to walk between many of the festival’s venues. But, if you’d like to to avoid the foot traffic or go somewhere that’s a little too far to walk, we have compiled a list of ridesharing options, all with their perks and potential pitfalls. Included are fare estimates and pass costs for each option.
Although the shuttle is free, it only stops and picks up at specific locations, so you may have to do some walking.
If you’d like to use the shuttle, you can find the service map here.
Uber is one of the leading ride-hailing services in the country — and now it’s back in Austin. Because the app is so popular among drivers and users, your wait time will likely be no more than 10 minutes. The user-friendly interface provides several options for travel (UberPOOL, UberXL, UberX, UberSelect and LUX) and gives a pretty accurate price estimate for your trip.
Uber will likely be facing an influx of passengers during SXSW, so surge charges could go through the roof when you’re trying to get back to your hotel after a late night.
Like Uber, Lyft’s waiting times are pretty brief. In this waiting time, the app will send a text to your phone when your driver is close and when they have arrived. The service also provides several services (Lyft, Lyft Plus, Lyft Premier and Lyft Line) to fit your particular riding needs.
Lyft’s popularity turns out to be both a good and bad thing. Being in Downtown Austin during SXSW, you will likely be faced with Lyft’s primetime pricing. The app does not provide as obvious a warning as Uber, but the primetime fee is factored into your total price estimate.
If you do decide to go with Lyft during your SXSW adventures, Lyft is offering a $5 off promo code (SXRIDE18) for all new riders.
$7- $15 (not accounting for primetime pricing)
RideAustin is a local company that gives you the option to round up your fare and donate to a local charity. Without Uber and Lyft, RideAustin kept ride-hailing afloat during SXSW 2017. If you’d like an additional cushion of safety, the app offers a female-only driver option with premium and luxury services.
Some riders have cited unreachable drivers and long wait times. The company will also immediately charge a $5 cancellation fee no matter how far or close the driver is to your location.
If you’d like to avoid the tumultuous pricing and servicing in ride-hailing services, check out the Cap Metro App. The app provides maps and schedules for all route, and there is a trip planner feature that will give you the best trip options based on your current location and destination. So, you can use it even if you are unfamiliar with Austin’s public transit system.
Because it is not an on-demand services, you will have to plan your trip ahead of time to fit into the bus’ schedule. And if you are on a tight schedule, the buses may not be the most reliable, as they are not always exactly on time. The limited bus stops also may leave you walking to your destinations.
Single Ride: $1.25, Day Pass: $2.50, 7-day Pass: $11.25
This service, most known for their airport shuttle, provides rides at a set price that won’t budge. It is a reliable way to get downtown from the airport and explore the heart of the city during the festival. It is a pre-booked service, so you can keep a tight schedule without having to factor in any wait times for pickups.
The service does have to be booked in advance, so it would not be an option if you only have 20 minutes to make it to a film screening. Also, the service is generally more expensive than other ride-hailing services.
$19 (for up to 3 passengers)
If you prefer the traditional taxi, zTrip is the official app for Yellow Cab operations. The app yields short wait times, and shorter trips, as you’ll have drivers who are a little more familiar with Austin roads and traffic patterns than the average driver. You have the option to pay with cash or a credit card.
Users have had problems getting into contact with drivers and were sometimes left stranded and with a bill. At times, they were even unable to connect with any drivers.
This app has an appearance similar to that of most other ride-hailing apps, except that it connects you with taxis instead. Even though rates are higher, the service has no surge pricing, so it could out to be cheaper than taking an Uber if you’re out pretty late.
Because it is a taxi service that employs professional (not private) drivers, the fares are generally going to be higher. As with some less used services, Curb’s services can be pretty hit or miss, as users have complained that they’ve waited for drivers only to be told that none are available.
If you want to avoid riding in a stranger’s car, Car2Go may be a great alternative. The service offers pricing close to that of ride-hailing services, and you have to option to take it for a short ride or rent a car for several days. Car2Go has designated parking spots throughout central Austin for their cars and SXSW will be providing designated drop off zones.
With Car2Go you will have to register in advanced to get access to the cars, and wait times for approvals could be up to two days. The festival and UT’s spring break may also limit the number of cars that are available.
If you decide to drive Car2Go, SXSW is offering free registration and $10 drive credit with the promo code DRIVESXSW.
$6 (2 miles at $0.47/min.), 1 Hour: $19, 1 Day: $79
This is a peer-to-peer network, so there is less of a middleman between you and drivers. This allows you to negotiate ride prices directly with drivers and have more clear communication with them as well. The service is most used via Facebook and there is also an app.
Drivers are registered and vetted internally, so the system for regulation is unclear. The service that most people use, via Facebook, is not under the same rules as centralized options so the system relies on rider/driver trust.
Cell 411 takes a decentralized approach to ridesharing and allows drivers and riders to negotiate all aspect of the ridesharing process, including medium of payment (cryptocurrency included). The app just serves as a facilitator for the service, with no required actions or approvals.
The app emphasizes that there are no background checks or car requirements. So, there is no official vetting of drivers and the service their vehicles could offer, which could be a safety risk.
If you want to avoid sitting in downtown traffic and navigate Austin on your own terms, check out B-cycles. Bikes are located throughout central Austin and can be used and returned to any B-station kiosk, not just the one you took it from. The app will show you where the stations are located and how many bikes are available at any given station.
The most obvious downfall to the b-cycle is that you have to rely on your own manpower to get around, which would not be the best option if you are on a tight schedule. And since SXSW and Spring Break will be happening simultaneously, the availability of bikes may be limited.
24-Hour pass: $12, 3-day Pass: $18 (plus tax)
While pedicab services do not have an app, they will be in abundance during SXSW. These drivers offer a fun way to travel short distances downtown without walking. Since these drivers are very familiar with Downtown Austin, they can offer suggestions for restaurants, bars, etc., and may even have some information about unofficial SXSW events.
This service does not rely on an app like most ride-hailing options, so you will have to do a little more work with flagging one down and negotiating pricing before your ride. The lack of an app will also require some guesswork on how long the trip will take, so it may only be an option if you have some time to spare.
$10- $20 (expect higher fares during SXSW)
Note: All fare estimates are based on a travel distance of about 2 miles.