South By Southwest is in full swing, which means crowds. Crowds everywhere, full of people with panels and parties to attend.
Many of those people forgot (or didn’t know) that Uber and Lyft no longer operate within the Austin city limits. And when it rains all weekend, as it did last weekend, people got upset at the gouged prices and long wait times for Austin alternatives Fasten and RideAustin.
More: What we learned about Austin’s ride-hailing options by testing six of Austin’s ride-hailing apps
Making matters worse, both Fasten and RideAustin went down on Saturday night’s rainstorms, creating issues for people who needed rides, and needed them ASAP.
Local ride-hailing service RideAustin posted on Facebook early Sunday morning that its database locked up throughout most of the evening Saturday, and Kirill Evdakov, CEO of Fasten, confirmed that service also had problems, beginning a little after 8 p.m. Saturday. He called SXSW, rainy weather, and glitches with other services simultaneously “a perfect storm” that led to Fasten receiving about 12 times as many ride requests as normal.
During the outage, many people complained on Twitter about the resulting price surges…
While some people who just got into town were aghast that Austin does not have Uber or Lyft anymore…
One person was angry at Uber and Lyft for leaving Austin after the May election that included Proposition 1…
While another was worried about how RideAustin’s app could legally exist because it looks so close to Uber’s…
While many people thought the whole idea of complaining about transportation during a huge conference event was preposterous…
And others simply found (gasp!) other means of transportation for the weekend.
Anyhow, the whole event got its own Twitter moment Sunday night:
However, many people who arrived in town Thursday night for SXSW Interactive were well aware of the ridesharing situation in Austin. The following is from breaking news reporter Katie Hall, who went out to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Thursday night to interview conference-goers.
Britt Deyan, of San Francisco, landed in Austin on Thursday night for SXSW Interactive. Deyan said that SXSW had been good about sharing the fact that Uber and Lyft no longer gave rides in Austin.
“Every communication I was sent about SXSW told me Uber wasn’t here,” Deyan said as she climbed into a taxi.
Alisa Hetrick and Sami Huerta, both of Minneapolis, also grabbed a taxi after landing at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Hetrick and Huerta said they had been told by friends in Austin, who invited them to SXSW, that Uber and Lyft didn’t operate in Austin.
A group of six Mashable employees huddled together outside the airport after landing in Austin, discussing the ride-hailing app RideAustin. Their company had called a car ahead of time to pick them up, they said. A few of the people in the group said they were well aware of the fact that Uber and Lyft left Austin because their website had written about it. One of them, however, was not.
“I didn’t know until just now,” she said, after asking the reporter for ride-hailing app suggestions. “After the tragedy that happened a couple years ago at SXSW, I think they’re asking for another tragedy.” She declined to give her name.
What about you? Have you been having a tough time getting around at SXSW? Let us know in the comments.
Statesman reporters Katie Hall and Elizabeth Findell contributed to this report.