The Great 512tech Ride-Hailing Test Run 2016: a summary

Don't have time to read our full report? Here's the tl;dr (too long; didn't read) version. 

Posted July 22nd, 2016

Story highlights
  • Statesman reporters tested out seven non-Uber/Lyft ride-hailing apps and shared their experiences.
  • Costs and wait times vary widely across apps that have sought to replace Uber and Lyft.
  • It doesn't hurt to have several options installed if you're going to hail rides via apps in Austin.

On Tuesday, July 12, seven Austin American-Statesman reporters tried out seven ride-hailing apps in an attempt to get to and from Hyde Park Bar & Grill for lunch. (Yes, there were fries ordered. Lots of fries.) It was the first test in 512tech's Ride-Hailing Test Run, which included two more ride attempts to get a sense of how well these apps perform in a post-Uber/post-Lyft Austin. The apps tested were, in alphabetical order, Fare, Fasten, GetMe, Hail A Cab, InstaRyde, RideAustin and Wingz.

You can read the full blow-by-blow on how this set of rides and the subsequent ones went from each reporter, how we did the test and why we excluded some services from this run. Or, if you're pressed for time, you can give the chart below a glance and read a quick summary below it.

Ride-hailing appFareFastenGetMeHail A CabInstaRydeRideAustinWingz
Cost from Austin American-Statesman to Hyde Park Bar & Grill (without tip)$12.77$10.51$16.86$22.50$7.25 (after $5 promo discount)$16.86$15
Time to wait for first ride to arrive3 minutes4 minutes9 minutes7 minutes5 minutes7 minutes24 minutes
Travel time from Statesman to Hyde Park12 minutes12 minutes14 minutes17 minutes14 minutes18 minutes14 minutes
Cost from Hyde Park Bar & Grill to Statesman (without tip)$14.93$10.74$14.72$14.90$11.98$15.50n/a
Time to wait for return ride to arrive2 minutes10 minutes7 minutes10 minutes14 minutes7 minutesn/a
Travel time from Hyde Park to Statesman16 minutes18 minutes17 minutes18 minutes16 minutes15 minutesn/a
TippingOptionalNo tipping in appOptionalOptionalOptionalNo tipping in appOptional, $2, $5 or $10
Average ride cost in our roundtrip test (without tip or promo codes)$13.85$10.63$15.79$18.70$12.16$16.18$15.00
Average wait + travel time in our roundtrip test16.5 minutes22 minutes23.5 minutes26 minutes24.5 minutes23.5 minutes38 minutes
iOS / AndroidBothBothBothBothBothiOS onlyBoth

Summing it up

While Austin now longer has Uber or Lyft, there are still plenty of other ride-hailing options. These applications allow easy access for those looking for a ride. 

In our testing, we discovered that while it's great to have a lot more options for ride hailing in Austin, some of the apps we tried don't yet provide the seamless, cheap and — to use Uber's word for it "Frictionless" — experience that Uber and Lyft did before they stopped operating here in May.

It may have to do with too few drivers spread across these services or that some, like InstaRyde, are so new that there aren't enough drivers and passengers using them yet to provide the scale that would make for faster ride-hailing times and lower prices.

That said, it's only been two months and the progress apps such as Fare and Fasten in pricing and ride times is encouraging. And many of the drivers for these apps are ex-Uber/Lyft drivers who are good at what they do.

The loss of Uber and Lyft in Austin has not created the transportation apocalypse that some predicted, but it may require a little more work on the part of passengers to make sure they have multiple app options installed on their phones at any given time if they hope to get around using these services.

For a much-more detailed report on what we experienced in our testing, check out the full version of this story on 512tech.

Jay Janner / AMERICAN-STATESMANFrom left, Lilly Rockwell, Ben Wear, Tim Eaton, Gary Dinges, Lori Hawkins, Arianna Auber and Omar L. Gallaga simultaneously order rides at the Statesman Tuesday, July 12, 2016.