Techies attending South By Southwest this weekend opened their Uber and Lyft apps only to find that the services were unavailable. The ride-sharing companies pulled out of Austin altogether last year after the city voted against a proposition that would have allowed them to use their own background check systems. Naturally, SXSW attendees took to Twitter to complain about the inconvenience.
As Uber and Lyft abandoned the city, alternative ride-sharing services began popping up in their place. Attendees of SXSW—the annual 10-day conference and festival that brings together tech leaders, politicians, journalists, and musicians—were encouraged to download Austin’s local ride-sharing app Ride Austin and the “official” ride-hailing service of SXSW, Fasten. Unfortunately, the homegrown apps couldn’t handle the extra demand over the weekend.
With more than 70,000 visitors in the city during SXSW, the two startups failed to pass the stress test. On Saturday evening, Ride Austin was down for nearly five hours due to a database overload and Fasten couldn’t handle the “12-times increase in demand.” Both companies made public apologies.
Thanks to the outage, a lot of attendees were left in the pouring rain with no way to get from party to party at SXSW on Saturday night.
However, some managed to find alternate, more creative means of transportation.
Looks like pedicabs were the most reliable way to get around on opening weekend of SXSW.