Photo via Uber.
Photo via Uber.

The Austin Police Department is warning SXSW attendees that they may be inadvertently breaking the law by accepting an Uber ride.

In a blog post, the APD notes that “unpermitted ground transportation services are possibly recruiting for drivers in Austin, so the City of Austin wants people to be aware of the rules and risks before unintentionally breaking the law and incurring legal costs.”

Someone tweeted at the Austin PD and asked if Uber rides were permitted in the city, to which it replied, “no they are not.”

Uber is temporarily making its transportation service available in Austin for the festival. However, due to city regulations, Uber requires a minimum price of $55 for its UberBlack luxury option and is offering periodic free rides on UberX, its cheaper service, because Austin does not allow drivers of companies like UberX, Sidecar and Lyft to accept payment. Uber also is offering up pedicab rides.

sxsw-logoThe APD reminds citizens that compensated drivers of a ground transportation service must have an operating permit, a chauffer’s permit and commercial insurance. An Uber spokesperson confirmed with us that its drivers in Austin this week have all three.

Similar to cities like Portland, Austin also has a requirement that forces customers to arrange a trip with an executive sedan or limousine at least 30 minutes prior to pick-up. However, for its SXSW services, Uber managed to get around this rule because there is an exception for “corporate contracts,” and the arrangement Uber has with its UberBlack partners is a “corporate contract.”

As noted by Ryan Lawler of TechCrunch, it seems Uber brought in drivers from other cities to meet demand in Austin this week. Lawler’s driver was from Dallas and didn’t seem to know the area very well.

The APD’s post recommends various transportation options available, but unsurprisingly leaves out Uber.  

To drum up attention around its service at SXSW this year, Uber has partnered with famous chefs, musicians and others for a promotion called “all access,” which will give lucky Uber riders a chance to win tickets and ride along with people like creativeLive co-founder Chase Jarvis and rapper Kid Ink.

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  • elbowman

    So, Uber is doing whatever it can to skirt the law, and put riders at SXSW in legal jeopardy.

    Wouldn’t a reputable company get it’s required licenses and legal situation settle before attempting to do business?

    Just sayin’…

  • Texas Towing Scams

    Anyone being towed from private or public parking lots during SXSW can get the last laugh in being mailed a check for several thousands of dollars with no upfront legal fees..Call the 24hr Tow Victims Hotline to learn more…

  • j2k

    ugghhh more people trying to squash a good idea by making it impossible to get a ride. anyone who has gone to any of these megafestivals know what a nightnmare waiting for a cab is. uber, lyft, and sidecar are godsends to the festival goer, save time and money for all. but if the users and providers are happy, someone with zero experience must have a problem with it. why 30 minites prior to pickup? aka midway during the headliner?

    • apache501

      That’s a lie. SXSW feeds cabbies and their families, shill. You have no idea of what you’re saying.

      • j2k

        What’s a shill? And although I can’t speak for sbsx I CAN say that I’ve been to a festival in the LA area and used a cab one day lift another day and uber the third day. I hated my cab ride and liked lyft and uber. Looking back I realize how many of my cab rides were super frustrating, and I haven’t had a single negative experience with ridesharing apps out of 20 rides. All my friends feel the same but I’m also obsessed with it cuz my masters degree is in transportation planning

  • KT

    Fucking protectionist dickheads like elbowman get to bask in the glory of mass carnage yet again

    • apache501

      Aside from cheap gimmicks, Uber didn’t do anything to earn its market share. UberX drivers make 20% less than cabbies.

  • Isaiah Hernandez

    Uber might actually save some lives. If the greedy city can’t get their cut, then it’s illegal? Cab companies suck in Austin, and they can’t keep up with the demand. Uber is awesome in Los Angeles, and I’m glad to see them in Austin. It would be even better if skewed APD would stop creating ninny propaganda and crying about. Idiots!

  • Average Mike

    $20 FREE first time UBER ride credit. Type in promo code ipox3u have a fun night out, get home safe, get an UBER

  • apache501

    Übers biggest fans are the “fans” it keeps on its payroll. Lol what a joke!

  • cynthia

    This is yahoo News// Uber hired a convicted murderer who applied with a fake name, complaint claims

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