Austin tech leaders released Monday a ride-hailing app to try to fill the gap left by Uber and Lyft as they recently ceased operations in the city after losing a regulation battle. RideAustin is a non-profit company supported by local donations that promises to ensure a service of quality while paying drivers what they deserve and keeping prices low for riders.

RideAustin is available in the Apple App Store and the Android version is expected to arrive next month. The non-profit has no plans to offer the app to Windows Phone users.

RideAustin startup
After Uber and Lyft ceased operations in Austin, tech leaders from the city released Monday a ride-hailing app named RiseAustin. Credit:

Tech entrepreneur Joe Liemandt, CEO of automotive and consumer electronics software firm Trilogy, started the new ride-sharing service by collecting private donations from locals and tapped corporations who committed to pay for thousands of rides.

He said Austin-based engineers started working nonstop to develop the app shortly after Uber and Lyft lost their Prop. 1 vote. The non-profit firm began recruiting drivers on Monday and the service could hit the streets in mid-June.

The new service will first offer rides within the downtown and airport areas while it makes sure it meets the city’s requirements, according to Andy Tryba. Tryba is the RideAustin co-founder whose high-tech hub welcomed engineers to build the platform.

“This is by Austin, for Austin,” Liemandt said, USA Today reported. “Tech can’t solve this problem alone. We are one leg of the stool. The way the community came together on this has been amazing.”

Altruistic brand

It seems like Austin wants to tell Uber and Lyft that the city doesn’t need them and can do better without them. What makes RideAustin a unique alternative in the market of ride-hailing service is its altruistic element, since the idea was conceived as a way to encourage donations to the charity.

Riders who feel like helping others will be able to round up their fares to the nearest dollar and donate to a charity of their choice, as the company’s director of communications Joe Deshotel told Digital Trends.

The idea is to provide the much-needed service in Austin and help charities. Locals will also be able to pay rides for an underserved community like the disable, said Deshotel. He added that the non-profit company is planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign to seek consumer enthusiasm.

Another benefit RideAustin will provide to the community, Deshotel said, has to do with public research. He remarked the importance of supporting studies that help improve transit planning and give both riders and drivers the chance to be aware of the best times to ride and drive, respectively. He commented that the University of Texas had already communicated its interest in the company’s transit data.

Officials with the company will be transparent and share their data so that researchers can study the private company’s claims that lower prices attract more riders and price surges benefit drivers, Liemandt noted.

Source: USA Today