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SXSW Surge Pricing and Other Ride-Hailing Changes in 2016

Complaints seem to be down

SXSW attendees who use ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft, and Get Me had a number of new options that might have reduced price-surge issues users complained about copiously last year, according to an Austin American-Statesman report.

While Lyft and Uber were not yet ready to release exact surge numbers, the paper reports, there seem to be fewer complaints about them, at least on Twitter. The story notes a number of structural and market changes that could have contributed to a reduction in the practice of charging higher prices in chosen areas and at certain times of day in order to attract more drivers when demand for service increases significantly.

The arrival of Austin-based ride-hailing company Get Me, which does not practice surge pricing (though it does raise rates between midnight and 6am), is certainly a big factor. Uber and Lyft both offered drivers incentives to work in festival areas. The Statesman also noted that the introduction of designated hailing places and uberPool, which allows riders to connect to share Uber rides, likely also made for fewer customer complaints.

An Uber spokeswoman also praised the ride-hailing regulations Austin passed in 2014, which are set to become more stringent under a more recent ordinance that Uber and Lyft opposed. Voters will decide whether or not to keep those rules or roll them back to more 2014-styled ones, the latter of which the ride-hailing companies have backed.