In celebration of passing 2 million rides RIDE | AUSTIN hosted a scavenger hunt at marquee Austin locations starting ending Sunday June 25th at 9pm. 30 RIDE | AUSTIN t-shirts were hidden across the city – with ride credits ranging from $25-$250. In order to participate people needed to activate promo codes, take a picture with the RIDE | AUSTIN t-shirt at the location they found it, and upload to their social media tagging RIDE | AUSTIN and using #RAHUNT #2MRIDES.
Why was the spontaneous Austin local themed scavenger hunt by RIDE | AUSTIN hosted besides reaching 2 million rides? What’s up with all their community reach outs lately? For those who aren’t Austinites you may not know the whole drama that occurred just a month ago. Lyft and Uber returned back to Austin after abruptly leaving Austin a year ago due to Austin’s vote of 56% to 44% against Proposition 1 on May 7th. The city was not only left without many ride sharing or car-hailing app options but Uber and Lyft also left several drivers unemployed.
RIDE | AUSTIN officially began taking rides from the general public on June 16th, 2016. RIDE | AUSTIN is a community-driven nonprofit ridesharing company. The RIDE | AUSTIN launch team is led by Joe Liemandt, a longtime Austin tech entrepreneur, and Andy Tryba, CEO of Crossover. It is powered by donations, with paid and volunteer hours from both the Austin tech community and the broader Austin community working together.
Unfortunately, the return the car-hailing and sharing app moguls are now hitting the local car sharing and car-hailing businesses that picked up the pieces when they abruptly left. Per the Texas Tribune article on June 21st the drop in ridership for RIDE | AUSTIN was swift and dramatic and lately, the company provided 22,000 rides which are less than half of the 59,000 rides it operated in the week before Uber and Lyft returned. RIDE | AUSTIN CEO, Andy Tryba, attributed part of the loss to UT-Austin students leaving town for the summer, but he also acknowledged that a large share of rides was recaptured by Uber and Lyft.
The return of Lyft and Uber has put RIDE | AUSTIN in the position of cutting staff, from 25 at its peak down to 12 now and possibly as few as six or seven. It is also said they are reducing fares and slashing operational expenses, including its headquarters. Also in the Texas Tribune article, Andy Tryba, said cutting RIDE | AUSTIN operational expenses can lower the minimum number of rides the company has to regularly deliver to stay afloat but that if the ride volume drops below 20,000 rides per week, however, the nonprofit will likely have to cut costs further or go out of business.
As a local, I can attest that the city is less dense with UT students during the summer months. Tourism, however, is heavy during the summer months in Austin. Most tourists are more familiar with Uber or Lyft than RIDE | AUSTIN simply because they are larger national companies. I am curious if that could be the issue and the dip in ridership currently.
Regardless RIDE | AUSTIN does need your help and their community outreach like the scavenger hunt is just one example of their attempts to stay afloat in Austin and reach out. One way to help the Austin homegrown car-hailing service stay in business is to spread the word, especially to friends, family or colleagues coming from out of town to try RIDE | AUSTIN. The app can be downloaded here and is available at Apple’s App store and Google Play. Another way is by following them on social media and posting or reposting positive feedback on their handles listed below.
We already lost FARE that shut down operations in Austin just a week after Uber and Lyft‘s returned. Austinites do not want to lose RIDE | AUSTIN, the only non-profit ride-hailing and car sharing company in Austin.