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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Columns

Focus Friday: Uber, Lyft and the new apps in Austin


New ride-sharing apps are popping up in Austin after Uber and Lyft were ousted from the city last year.

Apps like Ride Austin and Fasten are beginning to dominate the Austin market for ride-sharing, since they conform to regulations and pay more per ride than Uber and Lyft. CNN reports that some Houton residents are commuting to Austin to drive for the new apps.

This week, the opinion writers discuss whether these new apps will expand or stay primarily in Austin.

I was fortunate enough to witness the rise and fall of Lyft and Uber first hand, since I spent the last decade in Austin. The city was the perfect place for these platforms to thrive. Unlike larger and more spread out cities such as Dallas and Houston, Austin’s relatively small size with the majority of its activity occurring downtown was what made Lyft and Uber so appealing. Combine this with the rest of Austin’s appealing features, and you have the Mecca of ride sharing.

This is why drivers from Houston are commuting to Austin during their weekends. It’s the frequency of demand coupled with the shorter and more centralized routes that allow drivers to pack in more rides in a shorter time frame, which leads drivers to making more money.

Even though the newer Austin platforms might provide additional revenue per ride than Lyft and Uber, they’re more specialized and lack the market share and infrastructure that Uber and Lyft were able to attain by being first on the scene. These newer companies were only able to grow because the two titans left the city. We will see if they can survive once Lyft and Uber come back to town with a bag full of money and free ride promotions for all.

Opinion columnist Anup Desai is a pre-business sophomore and can be reached at [email protected]

I think that these apps will have a niche in Austin. The problem these apps is in direct response to what Uber and Lyft can no longer do. If they can’t expand out across the globe, country or even different cities in Texas, then they won’t overtake the market that Uber and Lyft have already created.

Opinion columnist Dana Jones is a print journalism junior and can be reached at [email protected]

Uber and Lyft will continue their market dominance because they have already established a brand. Everyone has Uber installed on their phone (and less people have installed Lyft), which creates an issue for newer apps. While Ride Austin and Fasten are doing well in Austin, they’re ultimately niche products that serve a niche audience.

Now, there is potential to expand if both apps are able to keep their shares per ride at the current rate, but expansion might change that. It is ultimately up to the market to decide if these apps will stay mainly in Austin or expand. Either way, they entered the game late and it’s hard to beat the giants at their own game.

Assistant opinion editor Jorden Smith is a political science and creative writing junior and can be reached at [email protected]

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