During SXSW Uber is out in full force in Austin helping users get around the crowded city. However, Uber is not permitted to operate in the city of Austin Texas, and the Austin Police department wants you to know that. The police sent a tweet out last night, and a blog post along with it to inform all SXSW goers to “know the rules of the road” before hiring drivers to take them around town.
SXSW tip: Use only permitted transportation services: http://t.co/3tRY5m6nGx
— Austin Police Dept (@Austin_Police) March 8, 2014
Uber has been offering rides to attendees for a few years now, but this is the first time the Austin police came out and said that the service is illegal. Uber had enlisted pedicabs and unpaid drivers to get around Austin’s laws, but it seems this year Uber threw the regard for laws out the window.
Austin requires a minimum $55 fare and a 30-minute pre-arrangement period, which would make Uber expensive and inconvenient. Uber says that UberBLACK are following Austin’s rule since they are licensed and require a $55 minimum fare. It also says there are a “limited number of uberX cars on the system for promotional purposes but they are free,” so they don’t violate the city’s rules. People have reported that uberXcars have charged, but some don’t so the reports are currently mixed. Uber reportedly shipped drivers from other cities, and these drivers have no clue where they are going. The driver that I had was from Atlanta and could not find his way around the crowded streets.
Either way this puts another wall in front of Uber who’s rapid expansion has caught them up in a lot of legal battles with cities. It could be possible that Uber is eyeing the city to offer their service, but they would have a lot of legal work to have the $55 min fare and 30 min pre-arrangement removed.