Whether you’re visiting Austin, have lived here for ages, or something in between, there are plenty of ways to get around the city without having a car. Let us count the options.
For most of us, walking is the best way to get around the densest areas of the city and in our neighborhoods and, given traffic on most roads, one of the fastest. But there’s also a lot to be said for being a pedestrian over longer distances and in many other parts of the city: it’s instantly accessible, free, and healthy (if you protect against the elements). It also affords the opportunity to explore and really experience the city you live in.
Check out the city of Austin’s Pedestrian Program site for more information on the city’s sidewalks programs, urban trails, safety and the law, and opportunities for neighborhood and community input.
Public transportation/Capital Metro
Austin’s regional public transportation system, Capital Metro, runs the city’s bus and rail lines as well as some regional transportation routes, University of Texas shuttles, and a fledgling ride-hailing service, but these are its most commonly used services.
MetroBus routes frequent-stop service with the most routes all over town.
There are two MetroRapid routes, which offer rapid-transit buses on north-south corridors that run through the city’s core and to the outskirts of suburbs on both ends.
MetroExpress commuter buses offer service between downtown and outlying suburbs.
MetroRail is Austin’s commuter rail service which runs between downtown and northern suburb Leander, with nine stations along the way. A number of MetroBus connectors have stops at the various stations.
Bus and train accessibility are provided in a variety of ways on bus and train routes. In addition, MetroAccess vehicles provide demand-response, shared-ride service for people whose disabilities prevent them from riding its standard busses.
Cap Metro also has a pickup service that allows you to get rides in a limited number of areas for the same price you pay for a bus ride. Its site has more specific information about the Pickup App and its areas of service.
Electric scooters, mopeds, and bicycles
Here are the city’s guidelines for scooter riding and parking.
Remember to follow all traffic laws and operate the scooter as you would a bicycle. This includes riding in bicycle lanes (not downtown sidewalks) and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks.
When you’ve reached your destination, make sure your scooter is not blocking the right of way.
Scooters are not allowed in Pedestrian Zones.
Scooters and mopeds
Bird’s graphically elegant, white and black scooters with red lettering cost $1 to rent plus 15 cents per minute after that.
Lime also charges $1 plus 15 cents per minute, but its scooters are a bright (one might say lime) green and white, cutting a fluorescent figure through the city. In addition, the company just introduced a Group Ride feature that allows riders to unlock up to five electric scooters on the same host account and LimePass, with weekly subscriptions for unlimited free scooter unlocks.
Owned by Uber, Jump offers both dockless bikes and scooters, both recognizable from the bright coral color they sport. has joined the scooter game. Both can be accessed with your reliable Uber app. Scooters cost 15 cents per minute, sans the $1 start-up charge.
Lyft scooters share its app with its established ride-hailing services. The black scooters have a small purple-pink spectrum of stripes to mark them but are otherwise understated. The cost the familiar $1 to rent and 15 cents per minute thereafter.
Spin’s bright orange scooters are hard to miss and also charge $1 to start and 15 cents for every minute after that.
Ojo’s bright red, Vespa-inpired scooters recently made their splashy Austin debut. They are the only scooters in Austin that offer a sit-down option, and you need a driver’s license to rent one (at least in Austin). They cost $1.25 to rent and 18 cents a minute after that.
Austin’s city site has the detailed lowdown on bicycling in Austin in general, including maps of trails, lanes, and other routes; rules and laws; safety tips; biking programs; and all-ages and -abilities network.
The city’s bike-share system stations are located throughout downtown and on streets just east of IH-35, You can rent by the hour or by the day with a credit card; bikes adjust to fit individual sizes and come equipped with baskets, lights, and gears. Yes, there’s an app; see the site.
Private and peer-to-peer bicycle rentals
The Bicycle Austin site lists several shops that rent bikes as well as a peer-to-peer rental service. You can also rent electric bicycles from Rocket Electrics and probably other places. Also, many boutique hotels and some short-term rentals provide loaner bikes to their guests, so you might want to call ahead about that if you’re staying in one.
Ride|Austin is a nonprofit started by several local tech leaders, and the app was designed by local engineers. Its service area is extensive and includes some surrounding suburbs and small towns. Rates start at 99 cents per mile plus 25 cents per minute, a $1.50 base fare, and required city fees; they go up for SUVs and luxury vehicles.
Lyft, as we know, is one of the two biggest ride-hailing companies in the country and offers several different kinds of rides, depending on the vehicle and how many people are in your group or how many strangers you want to share a ride with.
We don’t really need to tell you about Uber, do we?
Tip: The RideGuru app aggregates ridehailing and taxi availability in an area and estimates trip costs, as well as providing information about driver compensation, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Taxicabs and pedicabs
Pedicabs can usually be found the central downtown, East Sixth Street, Rainey Street, and South Austin areas—also east of IH-35 on East Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and 11th streets—especially during big events or on weekend nights. Pedicab drivers are licensed and regulated by the city and usually negotiate a price before takeoff or charge by the block. They can be flagged down or found in downtown staging areas.
Pro tip: Pedicabs are. the. best.
Traditional taxi services in Austin are in high demand during the festival. There are four: Yellow Cab Austin, (512) 452-9999; Lone Star Cab, (512) 836-4900; Austin Cab Company, (512) 478-2222; and Austin Taxi Co-op, (512) 333-5555