The Austin-based delivery company Favor has doubled its service zone, and it now covers an area stretching from Cedar Park to Slaughter Lane. The app-based service delivers everything from tacos to dry cleaning for a flat $5 fee, plus driver tip, and boasts an average 35-minute arrival time.
Favor has grown to serve more affluent and suburban areas, but the tech firm still provides relatively limited service in the less wealthy, minority neighborhoods of East Austin, Southeast Austin and Northeast Austin. Much of its delivery zone east of I-35 serves the most rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods.
“That’s extremely concerning, especially in an area such as my district,” Austin City Council Member Delia Garza said. Her Council District 2 in southeast Austin is largely excluded from the Favor delivery zone.
“It would be a great service for families, especially in my district that has such food deserts," she said.
Austin’s 1928 city plan pushed minorities to East Austin, which still has higher concentrations of Hispanics and African-Americans. Despite its progressive reputation, Austin is one of the most economically segregated cities in America, according to researchers.
Some longtime residents are sensitive to the legacy of racial segregation and the economic disadvantages that accompanied life in East Austin. Council Member Pio Renteria has complained that as recently as 15 years ago, he couldn’t get a pizza delivered to his East Austin home. (PolitiFact Texas found some pizza places that said they would have delivered to him.)
Favor says it is making business decisions based on factors including merchant density, customer demand and delivery times.
“Population, specifically population demographics, is not one of those factors” considered when deciding where to expand, Favor CEO Jag Bath said in a statement. “We're looking forward to making our way further east of I-35 soon.”
Favor says it completed more than two million deliveries since it began operating in June 2013. The company expects to complete $75 million in gross sales by the end of the year.