The ride share app SideCar says it will be operating during South by Southwest despite the fact that the city of Austin has ordered them not to.
Passengers download SideCar's app and book rides electronically. After the driver picks up the passenger, he or she can transfer them a tip or gas money after arriving at the destination.
"It's a lot more like getting a ride from a friend than getting a ride in a taxi or a limo," CEO of SideCar Technologies Sunil Paul said. "It really is in the spirit of friends helping friends.
The company said they will launch their service at South by Southwest in defiance of warnings from the city.
"Transportation is simply too important to close the door on innovation, and that is something that I hope we can do with Austin," Paul said.
SideCar was given a cease and desist letter. They were told they would be given citations if they are caught giving rides. Cars could also be towed.
"They're mostly done for the safety of the public," Assistant Director of the Austin Transportation Department Gordon Derr said of the city's actions. "Just like when you go into a restaurant you assume that the food is going to be safe. Over the years we've built up certain regulations in order to make sure that transportation of people is safe."
City officials said since the cars are vehicles for hire they need to be inspected by the city. Drivers also have to have background checks of their criminal and driving records.
Officials insist that they do not want to put anyone in danger. Derr even told FOX 7 that they will be conducting undercover stings to catch the company in action.
"APD is involved and we have folks that have done this in the past and we will continue to in the future," Derr said.
Despite the fact that SideCar is violating city ordinance, some people told FOX 7 they would still use the app.
"It's just a great opportunity for people to go out and make money on their spare time with their cars, also its not requiring extra vehicles to be on the road," SXSW attendee Paul Diamond said.
"I think it sounds great," said SXSW attendee Amanda Quraishi. "I think it sounds kind of like a win-win situation as long as there's some kind of method of checking the drivers to make sure that they're not weirdoes."
SideCar insists that the rides are safe. They do background checks of drivers and place a tracking device on each car. The also send pictures of the car and driver to passengers.
"We have a system that's so safe that 71% of people who have tried it say they think it's safer than a taxi," Paul said.
SideCar takes a percentage of the tip, which is why the city considers them vehicles for hire.