One Week until SXSW and 90,000+ Visitors Arrive

Screen shot 2016-02-29 at 2.00.36 PMImage via Shutterstock

To many Austinites, the annual South by Southwest events means more than great music, new films, and innovative ideas to share – it is just as well known for its traffic and crowds. To make navigating these 10 days (March 11-20) a little easier this year, SXSW is recruiting mobility concierges to direct visitors to the best options to get to, from, and around downtown. Smart festival attendees will take advantage of all the options available – from transit to pedicabs to biking and walking. And smart downtown employees will be taking a cue from those thousands of visitors and finding creative ways to avoid that festival congestion.

If you want to make some extra money and become a concierge for SXSWers heading from their hotel to events, Fill out this survey so SXSW can see how they might best work with you. Orientation is this Saturday (March 5) at 2 pm, so act quickly.

If you want to be a savvy commuter during SXSW, here are our best tips:

Plan Ahead

It’s too late by the time you hit that traffic on I-35, MoPac or into downtown. The best way to make your trip less stressful is to have a plan. If you’re trying a new commute option during SXSW, you may want to test it out beforehand, just to be sure you are comfortable. Try driving to your park-and-ride or biking your route on the weekend, and make adjustments if needed.

Leave your Car at Home

During SXSW, getting your car into downtown and finding someplace to store (park) it can be a nightmare. Parking rates skyrocket and available space is hard to come by. And with news this year that the President and First Lady will be keynote speakers at SXSW Interactive, it’s a safe bet that there will be even more road closures than usual. Instead, we recommend biking as one of the best festival options! On your own bike or a rented B-Cycle, you’ll be flying by traffic and parking will be so much easier. B-Cycle will have a small army of volunteers set up across downtown Austin making sure there’s always a place to dock your B-cycle. Find valet locations and times here.

Bus or rail can also be good car-free alternatives – but be advised that service will be a little different during the festival. The good news: MetroRail will be running until 12:30 am March 7-11 and 14-15, and until 2:30 am March 16-18. But there will also be detours on a handful of routes, and both bus and rail are likely to be more crowded than usual. See the full schedule and route changes on Capital Metro’s SXSW page.

Car2go is stepping up their service game during the festival. They’ll have valet drop zones available to make sure you can find parking, as well as discounts, free member breakfasts, and special SXSurprises. If you aren’t a member, now’s the time to join so you can get a discount and free minutes as part of a SXSW deal. Get the deals and read more here.

ZipCar is adding six new cars in time for SXSW, ensuring you can get where you need to go without bringing your own vehicle downtown. They also have a special membership discount and will be doing giveaways throughout the week.

If you do need to drive into the office, see if you can find a coworker to share the ride. You could also ask your neighbors to see who else works downtown – or try out the Carma Carpool app to make a match. At least you’ll have someone to commiserate with, and you can share the cost, too.

Work from Home

The only guaranteed way to avoid traffic? Stay home! Ask your employer if you can telework during the week of March 14-18 – even just for a few days. You’ll save time on your commute, and might just find that you’re more productive with some uninterrupted heads-down work time.

… Or Not at All

For many schools, spring break conveniently coincides with SXSW. Maybe this is the perfect time to use some of those vacation days and unspecifiedspend time with the kids – or just reclaim your own childhood with a well-deserved spring break. Some locals take this opportunity to get as far away from Austin as possible. Others embrace the festivities by attending free parties and shows. “SXSW is such an exciting time in Austin,” says Erica Brennes of RideScout. “I know a lot of people steer clear because of the crowds, but we say come on down! The people watching alone is worth it.”

What’s your SXSW Commute Style? Show us how the locals do it – share your stories using #CommuteLoveATX

Comments are closed.