Yet another ride-hailing service has set up shop in Austin, hoping to fill the void created when Uber and Lyft abruptly left town in May.
The latest addition, California-based iCars, debuted Tuesday. The company started earlier this year, initially serving the San Francisco area before expanding.
A high-end executive car service, iCars offers passengers a choice of riding in a sedan, SUV or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van.
The company, which primarily targets the hospitality industry, allows passengers to make bookings via an app for both Apple and Android devices as well as online at icars.cc. There’s also a third-party booking option that lets travel professionals arrange trips for their clients.
Founder and CEO Gary Bauer said iCars offers a “safe and reliable” option for hotel staffers booking rides for guests.
“Too often, concierges and doormen don’t have sufficient information about the driver or the car they are putting guests into,” he said. “iCars gives hotel operators peace of mind that their guests are being safely transported, allowing them to fulfill their duty of care obligations in a simple and seamless way.”
Bauer said iCars drivers are fingerprinted – a key reason Uber and Lyft decided to leave Austin after the passage of Proposition 1. The company also requires a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance from each transportation company it partners with and performs background checks and random drug tests on each driver.
Aside from iCars, a number of other ride-hailing services have entered the Austin market in recent weeks, including Fare, Fasten and GetMe.
Local tech leaders also created their own app, Ride Austin. The service, which initially focused on the downtown area, expanded last week to include a larger chunk of the city bordered by Loop 360 (Capital of Texas Highway) to the west, Texas 71 to the south and U.S. 183 to the north and east.
So far, more than 20,000 people have downloaded the Ride Austin app, backers say, and about 3,000 rides were given in the first two weeks of operation.
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