What this means for Austin
Is the return of the industry giants a good thing? We spoke to two drivers for Fasten, arguably Austin’s most popular alternative app, both of whom seemed cautiously optimistic ahead of the official return this week. One pointed to the superiority of Lyft’s algorithm, claiming that it connected him with nearby fares more frequently than the competitors (which often routed him to riders up to 10 minutes away).
The other driver we spoke with expressed hopes that the reentry of Uber and Lyft to the Austin market would increase competition and improvement across all the apps, given the advantages offered by some of the newcomers. For instance, Fasten (and others) forego surge pricing and instead offer customers the option to add incentive dollars to their pickup, making them more attractive to nearby drivers.
Both drivers indicated that they’d be going where the money is once Uber and Lyft returned, so it may ultimately come down to this: Will Austinites stick by their favorite local apps this summer? Or, will the majority of drivers end up shifting back to Uber and Lyft, effectively forcing riders to follow suit if they want reliable service? Only time will tell.