Austin Transportation Guide
How to get around Austin, with or without your own wheels
By Katie Walsh,
11:34AM, Fri. Mar. 3, 2017
Don’t let the stress of navigating a new city get in your way of a good time. Here's a breakdown of the best transportation options whether you’re trying to get to a venue a few blocks away or clear across town.
From Airport to Hotel
Capital Metro’s 100-AirportFlyer bus runs to and from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) every 30 minutes. Direct access to the Downtown area is $1.25. The route stops at the corner of Riverside and Town Creek Drive on the Southeast side, at the cross section of Fourth and Trinity streets Downtown, and on 23rd Street between Robert Dedman Drive and San Jacinto Boulevard near the University of Texas campus.
We've listed the numbers, but hailing a cab from the airport's transportation line on the lower level just outside baggage claim is probably a better bet.
Austin Cab Company: 512/478-2222
Lone Star Cab: 512/836-4900
Yellow Cab Austin: 512/452-9999
Austin Express Cab: 512/666-4141
ATX Co-op Taxi: 512/333-5555
For charters and limousine services, visit the airport's website.
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 or by calling 800/258-3826.
Transportation Network Companies (TNCs)
After residents voted against Proposition 1 last May, Uber and Lyft dramatically left the city. But Uber and Lyft’s strenuous lobbying efforts at the Texas Legislature have paid off – the May 2017 signing of HB 100 dismantles our city’s rideshare regulations and replaces them with statewide rules – and so the TNC giants are back in operation in Austin. Still, plenty of locals are vowing to stick with the smaller, largely local ride-hailing companies that filled the void when the big dogs left town.
RideAustin is a recently launched community-based, nonprofit TNC serving serving the Greater Austin area. Regular riders pay 99 cents per mile and 25 cents per minute with a $1.50 base fare fee (there's a $5 ride minimum). SUV, Premium, and Luxury rates are $2.60 to $3.75 per mile. If you're feeling generous, you can round your total up to the nearest dollar amount and donate the difference to charity. The app is available on both iOS and Android devices.
GetMe is a ride and delivery service based out of Austin. They offer pickup trucks, SUVs, and motorcycles in addition to typical cars and don’t charge surge pricing.
Fasten is only available in Austin and Boston. Like Fare, Fasten doesn't charge surge pricing.
zTrip's ExecuCar offers scheduled sedan and SUV service to and from the airport. You can book your ride ahead of time online or through its app. You must provide your airline and flight number information. 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 and gives them the option of tipping their driver.
Getting Around Downtown Austin
Capital Metro – Austin's multimodal public transit system – is the easiest way to explore Downtown and the greater Austin area on the cheap. Single 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.
There's also MetroRapid, Capital Metro's express bus service. There are only two rapid buses – Route 801 and Route 803 – that run between North Austin and South Austin. Rapid buses run every 12-15 minutes during peak weekday hours and every 20-30 minutes on the weekend. As of Jan. 8, 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.
MetroRail is a 26-mile 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.
Buses typically stop running around midnight, but Capital Metro 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 cost $1.25. The E-bus operates Thursday through Saturday nights 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.
Check www.capmetro.org or call the GO Line at 512/474-1200 for more info.
Renting a car typically isn’t necessary with all the other options within the city, but if you decide to venture outside city limits, here are a couple of options to consider.
car2go: You can access one of these easily recognizable blue-and-white cars from dozens of locations Downtown. Members 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.
Members can use ZipCar's app or website to reserve a car for as little as an hour or for as long as a week. Rates start at $9.75 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.
Payless Car Rental of Austin: 512/961-5295
National Rent-a-Car: 737/484-3885
Avis Car Rental: 512/343-9777
Budget Rent a Car: 512/371-7361
Dollar Car Rental: 512/530-2277
Enterprise Rent-a-Car: 737/484-3902
E-Z Rent a Car: 800/277-5171
Hertz Car Rental: 512/247-7250
Thrifty Car Rental: 512/530-2282
Austin Taxi Co-op: 512/333-5555
Before venturing off, make sure to check out a map of the city’s metered parking here.
For tourists looking to get their workout in while touring the city, here are some bike rental options in the Downtown area. You can find a detailed map of bike routes in Downtown Austin here.
Austin B-cycle kiosks are located throughout the Downtown area. Users must first purchase an access membership with a credit card before riding. A monthly membership is $11 per month plus a one-time $15 fee. An annual membership is $80. Members are granted unlimited free rides up to 60 minutes, but checkouts longer than 60 minutes are $4 per 30 minutes, $12 for all-day access, or $15 for a three-day adventure, plus tax. Download the B-cycle app to see bike and station dock availability.
102½ W. Third, 512/277-0609
Rent one of these multispeed city bikes for $10 an hour or $35 for the day. 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.
1707 Barton Springs Rd., 512/480-0200
Barton Springs Bike Rental offers cruisers, mountain bikes, hybrids, kids bikes, tandems, and road bikes for $10 per hour or $35 per day. Reserve online or by phone.
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.
517 S. Lamar, 512/477-3472
Bicycle Sport Shop’s rental fleet approaches 120 bikes, but the cruiser bikes ($26-62 per day) are the most popular choice for visitors and can be booked a year in advance. The shop also has mountain bikes ($38-62 per day), road bikes ($38-62 per day), and tandem bikes ($60 per day) available.
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.
1608 E. Riverside, 512/442-2453
If you’re looking for a no-sweat option for getting around, rent an electric bike from Rocket Electrics. 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 $20 per day. Rental periods, pickup, and drop off options are decided between the bike owner and renter.
Pedicabs are always cruising throughout the city, especially during peak times such as weekends and during citywide events. Prices vary per trip or per rider, so make sure to ask your driver before hopping in.
Capital Pedicab: 512/448-2227
Metrocycle Pedicabs: 512/825-1276
Red Devil Rides: 866/996-3666
Roadkill Pedicab: 512/300-3784
Transportation Links and Apps