Photo via Uber.
Photo via Uber.

Great news for those who want an easy way to get around Austin at SXSW for the next week: Uber is making a temporary comeback.

Bad news for those same people: Your wallet will be quite a bit lighter after taking a ride.

Starting Thursday evening at 5 p.m. local time, Uber will be available in Austin after offering the same service one year ago.

Riders can use Uber’s luxury option, UberBlack, but will have to shell out at least $55 due to city regulations requiring a minimum price for limousine services. Fares will include a $38 base fee and rates will be charged at $4/mile and $1/minute.

sxsw-logoFor those looking to sacrifice style and save cash, Uber is also offering a pedicab service that will charge a $10 base fare and $10/mile, $1.50/minute after that.

An Uber spokesperson told us that the company expects demand to be high during certain times at SXSW, so yes, surge pricing — which raises the cost of a ride when demand increases — will kick in throughout the week. Those looking to avoid the higher prices can use Uber’s new “Surge Drop,” feature, which notifies users when surge pricing drops around them. Friends riding together can also use Uber’s split-fare option to divvy up the cost.

Similar to cities like Portland, Austin 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.”

Since Austin does not allow drivers of service like UberX, Sidecar and Lyft to accept payment, UberX won’t be an option this week at SXSW. But, Uber said it will offer free promotional UberX rides at random.

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.

In a blog post penned this week, Uber encouraged people to voice their support for bringing its service into Austin permanently.

uberx“To date, innovation in this space has been stifled by regulations that shield the taxi industry from healthy competition at the expense of consumers who can’t get where they need to go and drivers who are unable to making a good living or build their small businesses,” the company wrote.

For those at SXSW looking to take advantage of other transportation smartphone apps, some options include Ridescout and Taxi Magic. Lyft and Sidecar do not have operations in Austin.

Meanwhile in Seattle, city councilmembers will meet next Monday and are expected to approve a regulation that would cap the number of Lyft, UberX or Sidecar drivers active at any given time on each system to 150. That means UberX would be allowed 150 drivers at one time during the day or night — same goes for Sidecar and Lyft.

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  • pitbullstew

    So? Now we need an app to avoid surge (price gouging) pricing?

    • Slaggggg

      Surge pricing is way better than waiting forever for a ride. If you don’t like it, don’t pay it. The choice is yours, hater.

      • steve

        What if the taxi industry charged during busy times? Average service time in austin is less than 10 minutes using hailacab!

  • James

    UberX is actually free for all of SXSW this year up until March 16th. Yes, completely free

  • Magel

    Try Uber, an awesome on demand car service.

    Get $20 off UBER on your first ride!!!

    Sign up at:$20off

    or use PROMO CODE ubernew$20off

  • ClaimsAdjuster

    Soper: “Great news for those who want an easy way to get around Austin at SXSW for the next week: Uber is making a temporary comeback.”

    I wonder how much Uber is paying Soper to write ads for them?

  • Jack

    If anyone ever needs a Uber promo code here is one for $20 off. I know it sounds crazy, but since finding Uber we have been taking it everywhere. Much easier than trying to find a Taxi here in Phoenix. A9TR6

  • Tony

    Use code “uberSpring60” for $60 for 3 FREE rides ($20 max per ride) – it’s stackable with other codes

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