In case you have been way out of the local loop, you know that ridesharing services Lyft and Uber halted operations in Austin more than a year ago. The two services left the city due to a dispute involving fingerprint-based criminal background checks—Austinites voted in favor of the measure requiring such checks for Uber and Lyft drivers. Such a vote sent the rideshare services packing—but now they are back and ready to resume operations. So what does this mean for Austin’s RideShare companies?
Native Austin startup rideshare companies like RideAustin now have to compete with two massive competitors—but it would seem the city was getting along just fine without the two big players just fine.
Here’s the thing: RideAustin is a nonprofit service, or a “ride share community asset,” as they refer to themselves. Among the many differences between Uber and Lyft and RideAustin is the idea of reinvesting in the Austin community.
Since RideAustin operates on a nonprofit business model its drivers are able to earn more (and keep more of!) the wages they earn all while keeping prices low for patrons. Such a system is possible because the company itself is not in the game to generate profits (unlike Uber and Lyft).
Moreover, the local company is charity-minded with the intent to give back to the Austin community as much as they possibly can. But how do they do this?
RideAustin offers riders the option to ‘round-up’ on their fares, which generates money for the company to then donate to local deserving charities. According to RideAustin, this feature is intended to eventually allow for free and reduced-fare rates for disabled and low income elderly patrons.
Even though Uber and Lyft are returning to Austin, it is hard to beat the community-centric nature and motives of RideAustin. Furthermore, RideAustin prices are competitive and expected to stay low—which is something Uber and Lyft can hardly compete with considering their surges and other added costs.
In the end time will tell just how much the return of the two major rideshare companies will impact local rideshare startups. Nevertheless, when it comes to Austin’s strong community, it would be surprising to see the startups fail and disappear altogether.