If you're an Austinite, then you are fully aware that the mega convention SXSW is now underway. The Interactive Festival launched on Friday with a keynote speech from President Obama himself and already a slew of celebrities have made appearances, both official and surprise, all over this bustling city. Last week even Mayor Adler suggested that many people who work anywhere near the Downtown area attempt to work from home if at all possible to combat the horrendous mobility issues facing this city, with or without the addition of tens of thousands visitors.
Austin's lack of transit has been a heated debate and growing crisis for several years now with the options few and far between. If you are planning on attending any portion of the festival, be advised that parking is already challenging in the Downtown area with paid parking areas going as high as $80 a day! Bicycling in the Austin area is preferred, but also becoming an increasingly dangerous option. So, how does one navigate the town during SXSW safely and swiftly? There are a few options.
The Capital MetroRail has been growing in popularity and provides excellent transportation from East Austin, Cedar Park/Lakeline, and Leander to and from Downtown Austin. You can also take your bike with you on the train for additional transportation once you arrive. http://www.capmetro.org/MetroRail/
Capital Metro also offers bus routes which traverse nearly all points within the city with many routes running late into the night. A pass can be purchased at any HEB grocery store, or you can download the CapMetro app onto your iPhone or Android to purchase virtual passes in one day, one week, or monthly increments. http://www.capmetro.org/planner/
Now that the debate has subsided, for the most part, about Uber and Lyft in the Austin area, both companies will be out in full force. This is always a great option and often times far cheaper than a taxi, which you know will be raising their rates during festival season. Car2Go is also an option.
Once you are Downtown, be sure to look for the Mazda promotions around the Austin Convention Center. This year, again, Mazda will be offering free rides to SXSW patrons to any SXSW venue or event. http://insidemazda.mazdausa.com/sxsw/
For a while it seemed as if the Austin pedicab culture had subsided, but now that the weather has turned warmer and festival season is in full swing, pedicabs are now roaming the streets of Downtown once again. There are several great companies here in town including Easy Rider, Metrocycle, DirtyNail, and Movemint. Again, this is a far less expensive alternative to taxis and a great way to support the local economy.
These are just a few of the options if you choose to leave your car at home during SXSW. If you have any additional suggestions email them to us at gabrielle [@] kinneyarchitects [dot] com!