New Lyft program offers Austin musicians free rides to gigs

In 2018, ride hailing service Lyft is branding itself as “The rideshare of Austin music.”

The company has partnered with local venues on a six-month pilot program to provide free rides to musicians heading to their gigs.

The program was conceptualized by Antone’s owner Will Bridges and Empire Control Room’s Stephen Sternschein working in coordination with local Lyft representatives. It is currently available to musicians playing at Empire, Antone’s, Stubb’s BBQ, Barracuda, Cheer Up Charlie’s and the Mohawk.  Lyft linked a a form to a press release about the program to gather more information from additional clubs that would like to participate.


“It’s expensive and difficult to park downtown, even harder for a working musician lugging gear,” Sternschein said in the press release. “Parking tickets, towing, and accidents can (and do) eat up every dollar a local musician just made on stage.”

RELATED: Best of Free Week 2018

The program launched Monday in time for Free Week. Participating venues will be given Lyft credits to distribute to artists.

Sternschein said the vision is to develop some sort of public/private partnership, with some funding from Lyft and some donations from Lyft riders and the Austin community via ride credits, to expand the program to all venues in town.

“But in order to roll out a program like that we’d need to do some testing and collect some data about how much it would actually cost and to understand logistical challenges involved,” he said. “That is why it is only happening in a few venues right now, because it’s better to measure twice and cut once. Free Week is a stress test of the system we have in place. Our goal is to use the data collected from the pilot to make a city-wide program possible and permanent.”

UPDATE: This post has been updated to include additional information about the program.

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