People Left the Bars When Uber Left Austin

More and more Texans are calling it an early night, it seems. According to data from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, Austin bars suffered a considerable drop in alcohol sales this year. Sales totaled $60.9 million this May, compared to $61.8 million in May of last year. Bar owners are blaming the recent departure of Uber and Lyft from the city.

“There was an immediate definitive difference once they both left town,” Speakeasy and Ten Oak bar owner Michael Girard told KVUE. "Sales drop, volume drop. Everybody that I've talked to said that they've seen a noticeable drop.”

Uber and Lyft left Austin in May after a motion passed requiring that ride-hailing companies in the city fingerprint-screen their drivers. The two companies were strongly against the new regulations, saying that fingerprinting relies on out-of-date databases and makes it hard to hire drivers, according to CNN.

Customers often depend on these ride-hailing apps to get home after a night on the town. In the wake of Uber and Lyft’s departures, it’s possible that Austinites are choosing to cut their time at the bar short or not go out at all, rather than try to wrangle a designated driver.

New ride-hailing apps are cropping up in Austin, but none have reached the level of popularity of Uber and Lyft, nor are they as responsive or widely available. Until Uber and Lyft come to a compromise with the city (or one of these new apps takes off), Austin residents will simply have to improve their at-home nightcap skills. We have a few suggestions on where to start.