RideAustin Explores Driver Incentives With OEMs

RideAustin is currently in discussions with OEMs to provide “innovative programs” for drivers — which might include a leasing program similar to Uber’s Xchange Leasing or other driver incentives, Mobility Finance has learned.

Founded after Uber and Lyft left Austin, Texas, last year — in protest of the city’s rule that drivers need to be fingerprinted by a third-party service as a security measure — RideAustin officially began taking rides from the general public in June 2016, just five weeks after initial development, according to its website. RideAustin is a community-driven non-profit ridesharing company, meaning it is powered by donations, with paid and volunteer hours from both the Austin tech community and the broader Austin community working together.

And although the startup is still less than a year old, RideAustin has proved a viable Uber and Lyft replacement and is developing more programs for drivers, according to local publications.

“There is a long list of feature/program ideas we would like to develop,” she said. “We are in discussions with some car OEMs to explore innovative programs for our drivers.”

Currently, a legislative bill in Texas, called HB 100, recently passed the state Senate and is now awaiting Gov. Greg Abbott’s signature. The bill will allow Uber and Lyft to re-enter the state because the bill would establish a statewide system of ride-hailing regulations that, in effect, overrules Austin’s own standards.

Therefore, it may become a viable option for rideshares in the area — including Fasten, Fare, Wingz and InstaRyde — to offer incentives to drivers to keep them on their platform and not abandon them for Uber or Lyft. Although rideshare drivers can work for multiple rideshares, the popularity of Uber and Lyft from a consumer standpoint may cause drivers to work more frequently for those platforms. Offering an incentive, such as the ability to lease through a rideshare, can not only offer an incentive for drivers to join a particular platform, but it can enable the rideshare to keep a driver on their platforms for the rideshare for the duration of the lease.

Currently, RideAustin does not have any lease or purchase options, Goldenberg said.

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