Riding Outta Town
Austin ride-hailing service permanently drives out of business
Four years after its founding, the nonprofit ride-hailing app RideAustin announced this week that it will shutter operations.
The app started in 2016 after Uber and Lyft left Austin in the wake of city regulations that the two ride-hailing giants felt were unfair. In contrast, RideAustin promised to comply with city regulations and focus on paying the driver a fair share, while also giving back to the community with its charity tie-in.
In four years, RideAustin took 3 million rides and helped to raise $450,000 for local nonprofits. RideAustin drivers earned $38 million in that span.
“We feel incredibly grateful to have been embraced by the Austin community,” the app said via email on Friday. “Thank you again fellow Austinites. We are proud to have worked together with you to make a lasting impact on our community. Thank you for supporting our cause and for keeping it local.”
The nonprofit aspect allowed riders to round-up their fares and donate the remaining cents to a charity of their choice. RideAustin also offered the "Female Driver Mode," which matched women passengers with women drivers. The app also gave back through a partnership with the Community Care Collaborative to offer medical rides to the underprivileged, free rides for veterans, and delivery services for nonprofits and charities.
At the end of March, RideAustin CEO Andy Tryba announced that the service would be suspending operations due to the coronavirus pandemic, though the city deemed ride-hailing “essential business” and Uber and Lyft continued to operate. Tryba told the Austin American-Statesman at the time that he struggled with the decision, which forced him to balance overall safety with the financial impact the suspension would have on drivers.
Tryba insisted that RideAustin was "highly embedded" in the Austin community, and promised to support drivers by recommending them to other employers.