Just before the SXSW onslaught, Lyft has agreed to a deal making it the first ridesharing service allowed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
— Austin-Bergstrom (@AUStinAirport) March 10, 2015
In a press statement released Tuesday, the City of Austin announced that the transportation company and the city agreed to a one-year pilot program that allows Lyft drivers to transport passengers to and from the airport, as long as 10 percent of the airport-related revenue goes to Austin-Bergstrom.
The city’s other major ridesharing app, Uber, has not yet agreed to a 10 percent concession. So for now, any Uber drivers caught with passengers at the airport will be issued citations, according to the press release. A spokesperson for Uber said via email that the company is "currently working with the city on a solution to ensure the tens of thousands of visitors arriving in Austin for SXSW have access" and that the company is trying to "resolve this issue in the immediate future."
Lyft spokesperson Bakari Brock said in the statement that the company is “excited” to be the first ridesharing partner with the airport. Ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are a recent addition to the Austin streetscape: The city made them officially legal in October last year.
Moubarak Issa, 32, has been driving for Lyft for three months. Though many Lyft drivers also drive for Uber, Issa focuses solely on Lyft. When he heard the news about the airport deal, he said it was “exciting.”
“Someone can make some money doing that, during South by Southwest,” he said. After his ride was over, he pulled into a parking spot to “check [his] phone about the news.”
SXSW Interactive starts this Friday. It’s unclear at this point whether Uber will try to make an arrangement to work at the airport as well. Taxicabs, buses and shuttles are still options.
This story has been updated with the response from Uber.