Rideshare apps in Austin sputter, frustrating customers on SXSW’s first Saturday night

FILE - Rideshare user (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Rideshare user (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Some rideshare service apps in Austin experienced outages Saturday night, leaving many South by Southwest attendees and other Saturday night revelers without a lift for hours.

Uber and Lyft left Austin last May after voters approved stricter requirements for drivers that the companies did not like.

Since then, more than a half dozen companies started to fill the gap left behind — including Ride Austin and Fasten. And those two major apps went down last night, leaving people stranded during a festival all about the latest and greatest technology.

“Ride Austin last night, just the homescreen — totally blank,” said Josh Krakauer, who was trying to use the service. “It was really, really frustrating.”

That’s when Krakauer swiped over to try Fasten.

“It figured out the location, but it wouldn’t get me a ride,” he said.

Krakauer said he and two friends fumbled with both apps for 25 minutes — with no luck.

Ride Austin and Fasten both said their problems started at about 7 and 8 p.m. Saturday night.

Fasten said their app was running slowly for about an hour, so only some people could get rides.

Ride Austin said a surge of new drivers and customers caused their servers to crash for five hours. Their app didn’t start working again until around midnight.

Drivers for the various rideshare services said the outages affected them, too.

“You just can’t log in, period,” said Jeffrey Lopez, a driver for both Fasten and Ride Austin. “Obviously I’m not making money.”

And this isn’t the first time, he said.

“When Uber and Lyft were here, I’ve seen the apps crash during South By,” Lopez said. “I’ve seen them crash during New Year’s Eve.”

Despite being stranded, Krakauer said he is willing to give the companies another chance.

“I know that they care about the community here, and I know they are going to learn from their mistake and the technical challenge and help everyone get home,” he said.

Ride Austin posted this statement to its customers on the service’s Facebook page:

We also found several comments from Fasten users who tried to get a ride — but could not. One example:

Both Ride Austin and Fasten said that the problems experienced Saturday night have been resolved, and that customers shouldn’t see the same problems Sunday.

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