Life goes on without Uber and Lyft, after all. Ride Austin, a nonprofit ridesharing company that arose from the ashes of Uber and Lyft’s joint decision in May to stop doing business in Austin, Texas, is doing just fine, according to a company press release.
Uber and Lyft went head-to-head with the city of Austin earlier in 2016 over a law that required fingerprint background checks for its drivers. When the matter was put to a referendum, despite $5.3 million spent by a group largely funded by Uber and Lyft, 56 percent of the voters were against overturning Austin’s fingerprint law. So amid claims that the city’s infrastructure would not be able to provide for citizens who needed transportation, Uber and Lyft immediately pulled out of the city.
Ride Austin formed quickly and started giving rides in mid-June. According to the company, its drivers gave the 10,000th ride within 30 days and is set to surpass 100,000 rides in the first 100 days of operation.
The company states that it has “learned a lot” and is ready to pass on financial benefits to both passengers and drivers through lower fares and increased driver shares. Starting Thursday, riders will pay 99 cents per mile, down from $1.50, for regular rides. Drivers will now keep 100 percent of the regular-class fares rather than 80 percent. A $1.50-per-ride booking fee still applies and that is the only money Ride Austin keeps for its operations. Another potential driver benefit is a new in-app tipping feature.
The company also provided an update on its charitable giving. A signature feature of Ride Austin is its Round Up program where riders “round up” their fares to the next full dollar amount and the extra money is donated to local charities. To date, according to Ride Austin, about 5,000 riders have donated via the Round Up program. The company expects the donations to grow with increased business and as it adds more nonprofits to the program.
Ride Austin claims to be the least expensive transportation option in Austin and hopes the price changes and greater awareness will attract more drivers and riders.