The city of Austin can already be a difficult place to navigate, but during South By Southwest, it‘s even more confusing. Rest assured, there are a wide range of transportation options to make sure you get to your show on time and home safely.
SXSW Festival Shuttles
When navigating within the festival, the official SXSW Festival Shuttles will get you within walking distance to your event, no matter how remote it may be. Shuttles are free and leave the Austin Convention Center every 10 minutes. On March 10, shuttles will run from 10:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. and then will run from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. for the remainder of the festival, except for March 12 when they will run late to account for daylight saving time.
The Bus System
The most inexpensive and popular option for city-wide transportation is public transportation. Capital Metro extended its hours specifically to accommodate SXSW. From March 6 to March 18, MetroRapid buses will run Monday-Saturday until 2:30 a.m. and until 12:30 a.m. on Sunday. Night Owl buses are planning for higher volumes of people and will operate under double capacity and will run until 3 a.m. for most of the festival. The CapMetro app is also free and available to conveniently plan your route to and from the festival.
If you’re tired of crowds and looking to get home quickly, ride-hailing apps may be the best option. The official ride-hailing service of SXSW is Fasten, which advertises a fair paying system for its drivers. New customers can get $5 off their first ride with the promo code RIDEON. Ride Austin is another popular choice among locals and charges $1.25 plus 99 cents per mile and 25 cents per minute. A third ride-hailing option is Fare, which separates itself from the rest by allowing customers to schedule their ride 30 minutes to a week in advance.
To accommodate for road closures and to avoid tiring walks downtown, bicycles are available for rent from shops throughout the city such as Austin Tri-Cyclist, Barton Springs Bike Rental and Waterloo Cycles. Austin B-cycle is another route to explore when planning your route home. B-cycle docks are located throughout the city, especially in the SXSW area, and bikes are available to rent for an hour at a time. Once a person registers with Austin B-cycle, bikes can be removed from their docks and can be returned to any B-cycle station in the city.
If your legs are too tired from a long day of exploring the festival, let someone else do the pedaling! Pedicab drivers are licensed under the City of Austin Ground Transportation Department and usually charge per block or simply work for tips. Pedicabs run at all hours of the day and are easy to find at all the downtown hotspots like the Business District and the Rainey Street and East 6th Street areas. If you’re having trouble finding a pedicab, most companies like Easy Rider Pedicabs, Austin Pedicab Company and Metrocycle Pedicabs are reachable by phone.
Should you decide to bring your own set of wheels to the festival, a map of parking locations during SXSW is available on the city’s official website, but spots are likely to fill up fast.
And don’t let parking give you anxiety — technology has your back and can even save you money. SpotHero is an app that books your parking spot online, sometimes even at half the price of the regular parking rate. SpotHero is sponsored by SXSW and is available to download on Apple and Android phones. The promocode SXSW17 could save you $5 on your first spot if you’re new to the app.