Chariot offers new mobility options for Austinites

Kevin Dural

Your chariot awaits: A new mobility service uses 14-seat vans to make getting around Austin easier.

Chariot, a mobility app and company founded in 2014, recently expanded from San Francisco to Austin. Marketed as an alternative to ride-hailing apps like Uber, Lyft, RideAustin and Fasten, Chariot offers 14-seat vans that travel a set route at designated times. Users can book seats on these vans through the Chariot app. 

Evan Stafford, Chariot’s general manager, said Chariot is a hybrid, private transportation service that gives users a variety of options.

One of Chariot’s first routes in Austin runs from West Campus to Sixth Street.

Jonathan Bolton, business senior and Chariot intern, said this route will save time and reduce the hassle of getting downtown. 

“A 14-seat capacity is bigger than (what) any ride-sharing app (can offer),” Bolton said. “This means you and your entire group for friends — whether it be six, 10, 12, or 14 (can get where you need to go).”

Stafford said Chariot will also help reduce congestion in Austin.

“Austin is the 11th largest city in the U.S., yet it has the fourth most congestion,” Stafford said. “This needs to change, and that’s partly why we expanded to Austin.”

Stafford said that Chariot currently has a partnership with the Whole Foods corporate office in downtown Austin to offer company-subsidized shuttles for employees to get to and from work.

He added that Chariot offers chartered driving for private events and that student organizations can use Chariot as an alternative to carpooling.

Neuroscience freshman Jane Buell said that Austin needs more ride-sharing options. She added that CapMetro buses are too complicated and that typical ride-sharing is too expensive.

“I took the bus one time and got lost, because the schedules are not very accessible,” Buell said. “But the price of ride-sharing outweighs its convenience if used regularly.”

Economics freshman Griffin Henkel said he has noticed that fewer students are bringing their cars to campus and are instead relying on mobility apps to get around. 

“(Using these mobility apps) is easier than trying to navigate and trying to find parking everywhere in Austin,” Henkel said.

Other new-to-Austin ride-sharing services include Wingz and the app “Ride” Wingz specializes in rides to and from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport while “Ride” is an app that manages available ride-sharing options. To use “Ride,” one inputs their desired route and the application compares fares across all available ride-sharing apps.

Bolton said that Chariot is only the beginning and that there are more ride-sharing options to come.

“Students should definitely be on the lookout,” Bolton said. “Every day, there are more and more ways to safely get around.”