San Francisco is a ghost town right now. It seems as if the entire city has packed up and headed to Austin, Texas for SXSW. The conference was too big two years ago. Then it got bigger last year. And this year it’s expected to be significantly bigger once again. I’m leaving tomorrow, and I’m scared.
But the good news is that an old trusty friend will be on hand to help us navigate the insane crowds: Uber. Yes, mobile app-controlled car service is heading to Austin as well for SXSW. But they’re doing it with a true Austin twist: pedicabs.
Anyone who has been to SXSW before will know how handy the pedicabs can be when you find yourself at one party either too tired or too inebriated to get across the city to another party. Now, if you have the Uber app on your iPhone or Android phone (you can use text messages also), you can simply request a pick up that way — it’s the same general process as hailing a regular Uber.
But there is one big difference: you negotiate the price you want to pay with the pedicab driver (well, technically, “biker”, I suppose). Obviously, it will depend on distance, etc.
This is an absolutely brilliant move by Uber. There will be 100 or so pedicabs flying around Austin with their branding on the side, we’re told. (There will also be a few regular Uber cars as well, we hear.) And Uber is taking it one step further by donating 20 percent of each fare taken in during SXSW to LIVESTRONG.
This move into Austin follows the news we reported just a few days ago that Uber was also coming to New York City.