CapMetro – Austin's multimodal public transit system – is the easiest way to explore Downtown and the greater Austin area on the cheap. Single bus rides start at $1.25 (transfers not included), while day passes run as little as $2.50. You can buy tickets online, at most grocery stores, or through the CapMetro app, which also gives you up-to-date travel information.
What might be your best bet is MetroRapid, Capital Metro's express bus service that covers Austin’s busiest corridors. There are only two rapid buses – Route 801 and Route 803 – that run between North Austin and South Austin. Rapid buses run every 10 minutes during peak weekday hours and every 15 minutes on the weekend. MetroRapid costs the same as regular CapMetro buses – $1.25 for a single ride, $2.50 for a day pass, $11.25 for a 7-day pass, and $41.25 for a 31-day pass.
Buses typically stop running around midnight, but CapMetro offers Night Owl and E-bus services in any late-night pinch. Night Owl buses run every 20-30 minutes from midnight until 3:30am, Monday through Saturday. You can catch a late-night bus from East Sixth Street and Congress Avenue to neighborhoods in North and South Austin. Single rides are $1.25. The E-bus operates Thursday through Saturday from 8:30pm-3am during the fall and spring semesters at the University of Texas. It picks up on East Sixth and Colorado streets and drops off on the main UT campus, West Campus, and Riverside Drive. E-bus single rides are also $1.25.
Finally, MetroRail is a 26-mile commuter rail line that runs between Leander and Downtown Austin during the week, and from Lakeline to Downtown on Saturdays. It drops off outside the Austin Convention Center on Fourth Street between Neches and Trinity streets and costs $3.50 per ride.
Check www.capmetro.org or call the GO Line at 512/474-1200 for more info. If you’re going to be a regular rider, the app – which allows you to purchase tickets, plan trips, and track buses in real time – is essential.
Austin has had a prickly relationship with transportation network company behemoths Uber and Lyft, but they’re back to operating in Austin after a self-imposed exile. If you’re visiting from out of town, you should consider our homegrown option for hailing a ride.
RideAustin is a local nonprofit helping other local nonprofits. You can choose to round up your fare to the nearest dollar and donate to a local charity of your choice. RideAustin currently has four different vehicle types in their app you can choose from: standard, SUV (6 passenger vehicles), premium, and luxury. Regular riders pay 99 cents per mile and 20 cents per minute with a $1.50 base fare fee (there's a $4 ride minimum). SUV, Premium, and Luxury rates are $2.00 to $3.75 per mile. The app is available on both iOS and Android devices.
After Uber’s year long hiatus away from the city, the ride-hailing company came back to Austin in 2017. Uber gives you six different ways to ride, from regular to large vehicles, as well as wheelchair accessible and luxury rides. The company also has its UberPool, where you can share rides with other users going to the same destination to cut costs. Get a fare estimate here.
Lyft also left Austin along with its ride-hailing counterpart and came back around the same time. Like Uber, it also has six ride types to choose from, each holding one to six passengers with varying fares. Get a fare estimate here.
zTrip's ExecuCar offers scheduled sedan and SUV service to and from the airport. You can book your ride ahead of time or instantly online or through its app. Rates vary.
InstaRyde gives Austin customers the option of choosing four- or six-passenger vehicles with varying fares. Unlike most other TNCs, InstaRyde allows riders to choose their preferred route.
A novel solution to traffic congestion, or public safety risk? The dockless transportation movement is a divisive one, with some praising electric scooters for being fast, cheap, easy to access, and environmentally sound, and others arguing that the scooters – which are rented, usually, by the hour, and can be abandoned anywhere when you’re done with it – pose serious safety risks via blocked sidewalks, for instance, or uncertainty over the rules. (Indeed, the Austin Transportation Department is still hashing out the rules of the road.) Here are the dockless operators currently in Austin:
Bird, a California-based company, had to go bye-bye birdie after it unleashed its dockless scooters in the streets of Austin without the city’s permission. Now the Bird is back after getting a city license to operate. It charges $1 to begin a rental, then 15 cents per minute after that.
Bird’s main dockless scooter competitor, LimeBike, is also from California. It left Austin around the same time Bird did, and came back to the city shortly after. Like Bird, it’s $1 to start and 15 cents per minute to ride.
GOAT was started right here in Austin, making it the only dockless scooter sharing company with homegrown roots. The roots are also humble as the company is being run by a small team of people working out of a garage to make the electric scooters. Like the two bigger scooter companies, it’s $1 to ride, and 15 cents per minute.
Austin is a bike-friendly town, but be wary of Texas drivers, who aren’t always on the lookout for two-wheeled riders. You can find info on bike lanes and trails via the City of Austin’s bike map. Looking for social rides and discussion groups? Bike Austin and Bicycle Austin are both good resources.
Austin B-cycle, the city’s docked bike system, has more than 75 kiosks dotting Central Austin. You can sign up for 24-hour access at the kiosk for $12. You can also get a monthly or annual membership, as well as 3-day access online. Members are granted unlimited free rides up to 60 minutes, but checkouts longer than 60 minutes are $4 per 30 minutes. A monthly membership is $11 per month plus a one-time $15 fee, an annual membership is $80, and 3-day access is $15. The company also allows UT students to check out bikes free for up to 60 minutes.
Pace’s dockless bicycles come all the way from Massachusetts. To find a nearby bike, use the Pace app or just look around. The base rental rate is $1 per 30 minutes, and you can pay with a credit card or cash. Student and EBT discounts are also available. The company offers college students unlimited 60 minute trips for $14.50 a month – half of their regular monthly subscription. What sets Pace apart from its counterparts is that the bikes have the ability to be locked, something the city will eventually enforce for all dockless bikes and scooters.
Uber’s Jump is one of Austin’s newest dockless bike sharing operators. What sets Jump apart from its dockless bike cohorts is that these are electric, providing a boost of up to 20 mph as you ride. It’s $2 for the first 30 minutes, and then and just under 7 cents per minute after that.
Austin Bike Tours & Rentals
102½ W. Third, 512/277-0609
Rent one of these multispeed city bikes starting at $25 for 3 hours or $35 for the day. You can also rent a bike for multiple days up to a week. Lock, lights, roadside assistance, and an optional helmet are included. Call for more information.
923 Barton Springs Rd., 512/494-9252
Take a stroll over the river to Austin Tri-Cyclist, where you can rent an urban hybrid or cruiser-style bike for $10 an hour or $35 a day. Sign up online, or call to make a reservation. Road and tri-bikes available upon request.
Barton Springs Bike Rental
1707 Barton Springs Rd., 512/480-0200
Barton Springs Bike Rental offers cruisers, mountain bikes, hybrids, kids bikes, tandems, and road bikes starting at $7.50 an hour, $22.50 per day, and $85 per week, plus a $5 one time overnight fee. All rentals come with helmets, locks, lights, baskets, and roadside assistance during business hours. Reserve online or by phone.
Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop
400 Nueces, 512/473-0222
Spend as little as $20 for all-day access on one of Mellow Johnny's mountain, road, or city bikes. The more days you rent, the cheaper the day rate. Call or go online to reserve a bike.
Bicycle Sport Shop
517 S. Lamar, 512/477-3472
Bicycle Sport Shop has hybrid and cruiser bikes ($22-38 per day), electric bikes ($62 per day), mountain bikes ($38-62 per day), road bikes ($38-62 per day), kids bikes ($24-$26 per day), and tandem bikes ($60 per day) available. All rentals come with helmets and pedals of your choice depending on availability.
503 E. Cesar Chavez, 512/387-1998
Streamline Cycles is Austin’s only full-service bike rental shop operated out of an Airstream trailer. Bikes go for $12.50 per hour, $25 for four hours or $30 for an all-day rental. Customers are advised to book rentals in advance, especially for usage during South by Southwest. In addition to rentals, Streamline also offers bike repairs.
408 W. Second, 1900 Aldrich, 512/442-2453
If you’re looking for a no-sweat option for getting around, rent an electric bike from Rocket Electrics, now available at two locations. Each bike can travel about 20 miles at 20 mph on a single charge. Rentals start at $20 per hour and are available to anyone 16 or older, but need to be booked online in advance.
Spinlister is the bike equivalent of Airbnb. This bike-share app lets people rent out their spare bikes at an affordable price. Rental costs vary but with the large selection of bikes listed in Austin, it’s possible to rent for about $15 per day. Rental periods, pickup, and drop off options are decided between the bike owner and renter.
In addition to the usual car rental and cab options, car-sharing is a popular way to get around town.
A long time player in Austin transportation, you can access either an SUV or four-door sedan from car2go’s all-Mercedes fleet – swanky, to be sure, but not as easy to spot as their old blue-and-white smart cars. Members locate and unlock the car with the car2go app, turn the key and drive for less than 50 cents per minute. No need to return it to where you found it, and no need to pay at meters – that’s included already. Keep in mind that it could take 1-2 business days for your membership to be processed before you can begin reserving cars.
ZipCar is currently giving Austinites free 30-day trial membership if you sign up by September 30. Members can use ZipCar's app or website to reserve a car for as little as an hour or for as long as two week. Rates start at $10 per hour or $74 per day depending on your membership plan. Pick up your ZipCar at its designated Downtown parking spot and return it there when you’re done. There is no wait period before new users can begin reserving cars.
ATX Co-op Taxi
You can book online with your choice of a sedan, six passenger, or wheelchair accessible vehicle.
Austin Cab Company
Lone Star Cab
Yellow Cab is partnering with zTrip, so you can book online or through the zTrip app.
Austin Express Cab
Electric Cab of Austin
Pedicabs can be an easy way to navigate Downtown at night and on the weekends and are best just hailed from the street.
Austin Pedicab Company
Red Devil Rides
CapMetro’s Airport Service
Capital Metro’s Route 20 Manor Road/Riverside bus runs to and from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) every 15 minutes. It is $1.25 for a single ride. From the airport, the bus heads down to Riverside Drive before stopping in downtown around the University of Texas campus. It travels on Manor Road near the Mueller neighborhood before turning toward Northeast Austin, where it reaches its destination on Manor near U.S. 183. Along the way, the route provides transfers to a number of other high-frequency routes (where buses show up every 15 minutes). If you have to transfer from route to route, it is best to buy a $2.50 day pass, instead of paying $1.25 every time you have to transfer routes.
Not all hotels Downtown have shuttle services. An alternative is SuperShuttle, which offers shared rides, single-group rides and luxury and SUV options. Prices vary and can be booked online, through their app, or by calling 800/258-3826.
For charters and limousine services, visit the airport's website.
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