The Simple Secret to Ride with Lyft or Uber in Austin… Today!
Because let’s be honest; we’re stranded.
Why are Lyft and Uber gone?
Jump ahead to the next section to skip the backstory and get straight to the directions.
Following the defeat of Proposition 1, Lyft and Uber retreated to the more… progressive suburbs. Suddenly, critics who first accused Lyft and Uber of “illegally” operating in Austin (before there were applicable local regulations in 2014) now criticized the companies for refusing to violate the City’s new ordinance from December. Those changes include a timeline for fingerprint-based background checks that already passed the 25% checkpoint.
Today, 25% of ridesharing drivers in Austin are required to go through the City’s fingerprint-based background check process, which still doesn’t exist. Yes, they “voluntarily” chose to follow our laws and they’re being blamed for it. Wait, remind me… who are the bullies, again?
City Hall’s preferred ridesharing apps have chosen, with their blessing, to break Austin’s regulations and have shown that they need more time to operate at the scale needed to fulfill Austin’s demand today. I’ll give you a moment to soak in all this wonderfully confusing hypocrisy from City Hall’s political machine.
“…the Year of Mobility.”
Meanwhile, 10,000 drivers like me lost some or all of our income (without the ability to collect unemployment), and we realized how few options we have to get around when we should not, cannot, or do not want to get behind the wheel.
All of this hardship arose because of the false premise that safe, reliable, affordable transportation options are a risk to society.
How To Request a Ride
I haven’t used Uber since Jan 2015, so these instructions are for using the Lyft app. If you prefer Uber, I assume it works similarly.
Of course, if you’re outside of Austin (Georgetown, Pflugerville, San Marcos, etc.), you don’t have to deal with any of this nonsense.
- Open the app and drag the map around until your pin 📍 is outside of Austin’s City Limits.
- A wild Lyft car appeared!
- Set the pickup and request your Lyft. (No need to set the destination, you can always add it later.)
- Text or call your driver immediately and ask if they’re okay with picking you up at your actual location. (If they’re concerned that they can’t, tell them it’s all okay, you read it on the Internet.)
- If the driver isn’t able to pick you up, you can always cancel in the first 5 minutes for free. In which case, move your pin to another car icon and try it again.
- Wait patiently for your fabulous driver, it’ll take a little longer than usual. (But what’s 15 minutes when the bus takes 47 minutes and a half mile walk through the St. John’s neighborhood in the middle of the night? I swear I’m not bitter.)
- This is a great time to contact City Hall and let them know how you feel.
- Greet them with a fist bump because it’s ridiculous.
I’ll be out driving this weekend, and I’ll be sure to update this article if anything changes. Check out my other articles for more of my point of view on this whole debacle.
Sorry for the shameless plug, but I still have to eat while City Hall works this out with Lyft and Uber.
New to Lyft? Use promo code RIDESHARINGWORKS for $50 free ride credit.
If you'd like to help make Austin rideshare-friendly again, reach out to your City Council Member and Mayor and ask…advocacy.lyft.com
Boring, Unnecessary Disclaimer
I am an independent Lyft Driver. I am not an employee or spokesperson of Lyft, Uber, or any other organization, nor have I ever been compensated for anything I’ve written on Medium or AustinStartups.com. You are responsible for anything that may arise from following these instructions. Although unenforceable, the City’s regulations and Terms of Service for Lyft and Uber do apply. Please USE A LEGITIMATE SERVICE to get a ride so you’re still getting a fully-vetted driver and the trip is still covered by insurance.