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.
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.
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.
@BRHOBOKEN hey there! Expect promotional free uberX at certain times as a special treat for some lucky riders.
— Uber Austin (@Uber_ATX) March 6, 2014
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.
“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.
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.