Boston-based ride-hailing company Fasten is planning to open a new office in East Austin. The facility is intended to be a lounge area for its drivers, complete with restrooms, coffee, snacks and even a drive-through window for dropping off lost items, .
Fasten will also have office space there for its four non-driver employees in Austin.
The company did not have an opening date yet, but Chief Operating Officer Vlad Christoff said Fasten hopes it will open “no later than two months” from now.
“Although this is a digital platform, it’s surprisingly analog,” said Christoff, who is a co-founder of Fasten. “At the end of the day it’s real people.” He said some drivers like to have an office to report to. “We don’t believe in hiding behind the monitors,” he said.
The 1,200-square-foot office on East 7th Street could give Fasten an edge over its ride-hailing competitors in Austin, though Christoff maintains it is not a recruiting tool for drivers.
There are at least five significant ride-hailing app competitors in Austin, including Fare, Get Me, RideAustin, Wingz and zTrip. Recruiting and retaining a large roster of active drivers is key to the smooth operation any ride-hailing app.
The Texas Legislature is also considering a bill that would allow popular ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft to return to Austin, primarily because it would eliminate the requirement that Austin ride-hailing companies fingerprint their drivers.
Christoff said if Uber and Lyft return, Fasten plans to stay in Austin. “Nothing changes,” he said. “We’ve been competing with Uber and Lyft in Boston since Day One.” Fasten only operates in Austin and Boston, where it is headquartered.
Several other local ride-hailing companies have offices in Austin, but none offer a Fasten-style driver’s lounge.
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