Austin officially opened its queso-filled veins to the masses today, and in order to service them, roads must be closed, buses must be detoured and late-night transit options must be broadened to accommodate the influx of visitors.
Traffic is always bad downtown during the festival. But you'll want to make sure to avoid the areas around these road closures:
The roads in red are fully closed as of today. The roads in pink are partially closed. The roads in green are "local access only." They're closed from today through March 22. A pdf map is available here.
KUT's transportation reporter Terrence Henry (@TerrenceHenry) chatted with All Things Considered host Nathan Bernier about the best and worst transit options in Austin during SXSW:
Because of the road closures, CapMetro has implemented some bus detours. Routes 4, 17, 21, 22, 100, 122 and 484 have alternate routes: Visit here for more information.
CapMetro is also extending hours of operation for some services. MetroRapid (bus routes 801 and 803) has free wifi on board and it's running until 12:30 a.m. tonight through the 19th, then until 2:30 a.m. on March 20 and 21.
MetroRail is also running later than usual. Tonight it runs until 12:30 a.m.; Saturday until 2:30 a.m.; Sunday until 12 a.m.; Monday and Tuesday until 10:30 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday until 12:30 a.m.; and next Friday and Saturday until 2:30 a.m.
Night Owl buses will run Monday through Saturday nights from midnight to 4 a.m. through the 22nd. The Night Owl buses run downtown for $1.25 on the following lines:
- 481 Night Owl North Lamar
- 483 Night Owl Riverside
- 484 Night Owl South Lamar
- 485 Night Owl Cameron
- 486 Night Owl South Congress
E-Bus service will also run late: from 9 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Buses run to and from downtown at 6th and Colorado.
CapMetro has all this information on its special SXSW page, and you can download the CapMetro app on your mobile.
Ridesharing services Lyft and Uber are both around in Austin now, and both have also started offering their shuttle/carpooling services, Lyft Line and Uberpool. Lyft is an official SXSW sponsor, and Uber is hosting events at the festival as well. Download the apps if you haven't yet, or go here and here to get fare estimates.
Taxis still work as well.
Yellow Cab Austin – 512-452-9999
Lone Star Cab – 512-836-4900
Austin Cab Company – 512-478-2222
There's also the Hailacab app, which will hail you a cab.
As anyone who's festival-gone in previous years knows, pedi-cabs often move faster than cars downtown. Flag one down and negotiate politely with the operator.
Biking is always easier than driving in Austin, and that's never truer than this next week and a half. Don't bother trying to drive your own car and park anywhere near downtown. Don't live in Austin? Don't own a bike? Check out Bcycle, Austin's bike-share program, which offers day and week-long rates.
SXSW has a Getting Around page that's worth checking out for information on airport transport and other in-city options.
However you chose to get around town...please share the road and be safe.