Rideshare Wars Round 2: Fare Thee Well
First TNC drops in response to Uber and Lyft’s returns
It's been 10 days, as of June 8, since Uber and Lyft returned to Austin, and quite quickly the two apps have reasserted their dominance in the local ridesharing economy. Already one transportation network company (TNC) that entered the market upon the two behemoths' May 2016 departures has called it quits. Just before 1am on Tuesday, Fare announced that its time in Austin would end, effective immediately.
"Thank you for opening your beautiful city to us these last 12 months," read an email sent to riders and customers by the Arizona-based company. "We cannot fully express how much we appreciate you choosing Fare and all your support. Sadly, the time has come to say goodbye. Unfortunately, we are unable to endure the recent loss of business."
Fare isn't the only app that lost a significant amount of business since Gov. Greg Abbott's signing of House Bill 100 ushered in the next era of the city's Rideshare Wars. RideAustin COO Marisa Goldenberg told the Chronicle that the nonprofit's business was down 55% in its first full week of the two TNCs' return. She attributed at least part of that drop to the natural downturn of riders that occurs when UT students leave for the summer. "But certainly Uber and Lyft had a big impact, especially given their generous discounts offered and brand awareness among tourists." Goldenberg said the company has heard positive feedback from drivers and passengers who appreciate their model. She anticipates industry demand will "naturally segment into different rideshare companies based on what is most important to them."
Meanwhile, Fasten announced a rate change last week. CEO Kirill Evdakov emphasized that the company is hoping to keep its pricing competitive "but not at [the] drivers' expense." During peak times, the company will still take a $.99 cut, rather than bump that up, leaving more of the profit for drivers. Fasten hopes it will appeal to consumers who want cheaper or comparable fares but also care about drivers making a living. It has, to date, retained a healthy portion of its drivers, he said, saving it money in training and on certifying new options. In the last year, the company has cultivated a dedicated Austin following. Evdakov hopes to keep those drivers even in the face of attractive incentives to switch to Uber and Lyft. "They understand how much better [Fasten is] for the city and for the drivers," he said.