Everyone knows Uber. It’s the 800-pound gorilla of the ride-sharing business, operating in 570 cities worldwide, and enabling more than 40 million rides per month. Uber has changed the world in a good way.
Most fast-growing companies hit bumps in the road as they grapple with the demands of managing a mushrooming workforce
But Uber’s troubles include charges of sexual harassment, insufficient employee diversity, and a very aggressive corporate culture that prioritized growth over everything else.
In some cities, though, you can’t use Uber, and one of those cities is Austin, Texas, where I spent a few days last week.
You see, in May 2016, Uber (and Lyft) stopped operations in Austin, Texas after citizens voted to institute a background check system on all ride-sharing firms that included fingerprinting drivers.
So very quickly, alternatives popped up, including RideAustin, which is a non-profit homegrown product and Fasten, which was originally developed in Boston (Cambridge) and is still an alternative to Uber there.
Fasten is just as easy to use as Uber. The main differences from the customer’s point of view are that you see the fare running in real time on your phone as you ride, and you can leave a tip for the driver through the app at the end of the trip.
The main difference from the driver’s point of view is that Fasten is less greedy. Fasten takes a fixed $0.99 commission for every trip completed by a driver, while Uber takes 20-38% of the fare. Perhaps this is why the drivers I had in Austin seemed happier!