RideAustin, a new TNC, Rides into Town

May 23, 2016 by Kate Harrington

File under “that didn’t take long” – a group of Austin entrepreneurs has announced that they will launch a new, Austin-centric transportation network company (TNC), similar to Uber and Lyft, in June.

RideAustin is a collaboration led by Joe Liemandt of Trilogy and Andy Tryba of Crossover Markets Inc., the Austin Business Journal reported on May 23. The new nonprofit will start originating its rides in downtown Austin and the Austin Bergstrom International Airport at first, and then gradually expand. The app – for both riders and drivers – will launch first on iOS, with plans for an Android version to be released in July.

RideAustin’s announcement comes two weeks after Uber and Lyft left Austin on the heels of a citywide vote that meant a new set of regulations, including fingerprinting, would be put in place for TNCs. Since that vote, other TNCs have also been gearing up service, including GetMe, Wingz (for airport service), and Fare.

In a statement released Monday, Liemandt said “After Prop 1, Uber and Lyft basically abandoned the market and the workforces they had spent millions to build. They left a factory overnight with the machines running and the workers standing by.”

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RideAustin’s founders said that making the new venture a nonprofit will allow drivers to earn more and riders to pay less, and will also let riders choose to contribute part of their fare to an Austin charity of their choice.

“We designed RideAustin from the beginning to be for the community by the community,” the RideAustin website says. “There are a charities lot of great in Austin that we feel should also benefit from ridesharing. By making it easy for people to ’round up’ their fares – we can provide local charities contributions on an ongoing basis.  Our charitable work will eventually include free and reduced priced rides to low income elderly and the disabled.”

RideAustin has also been specifically designed to follow the new ordinance that requires, among other things, fingerprint-based background checks, its founders say. It’s an interesting twist, given that Liemandt was a donor toward the effort at ousting District 5 Council member Ann Kitchen. Kitchen was one of the main voices behind the new regulations that Uber and Lyft left Austin over.

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Written by Kate Harrington

Kate is a former reporter, most recently for the Austin Business Journal, where she covered real estate, economic development and transportation. Since 2010 she has been running Thumbtack Communications. Thumbtack provides writing, editing and marketing services. Before moving to Austin in 2002 Kate lived in her native New England, which she still visits often to escape the Texas heat.