AUSTIN (KXAN) — Deborah Lozano has worked as a rideshare driver for four years now. When she went to the Moody Center late last month to pick up a few riders after a concert, she said she was concerned by the volume of traffic along the Interstate-35 frontage road, as well as riders waiting along the curb.
The Moody Center celebrated its opening April 20 with a performance by John Mayer. Lozano, who worked that night, said between the concert, a UT Longhorns game and construction along Red River Street, the area was bottlenecked with traffic and people walking in the roadways.
“By the time I got right there next to the Erwin Center, you know, there’s people waiting and the cars are honking and trying to cut you off,” she said. “They want you to move out of the way but they know that we’re there to pick up people. So I mean, yeah, it’s just kind of a big mess.”
The Frank Erwin Center is marked on the Moody Center’s parking map as the official rideshare drop-off and pick-up zone. However, Lozano said she didn’t see signs indicating that while working the concert, instead driving toward the area based on the crowds of people waiting near the curb.
Further up the road, a sign at the intersection of I-35 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard indicated Moody Center rideshare services were available further south. KXAN drove by the Frank Erwin Center on Monday and couldn’t find any signs in front of the venue indicating it was a rideshare pickup or drop-off zone.
For Lozano, she said she was concerned for the safety of pedestrians in the area along with drivers like herself who are trying to safely navigate the area while fulfilling a rideshare service request.
“I picked up I think two people, and then I just couldn’t do it,” she said. “It was too, too dangerous, and I don’t feel right about people standing there in the middle of a highway trying to get picked up.”
Austin Transportation Department officials told KXAN the decision to designate that area the rideshare zone was made by the Moody Center, not the city. The I-35 Frontage Road is overseen by the Texas Department of Transportation, and ATD was not involved in that traffic decision.
TxDOT told KXAN it doesn’t have information on the facility’s rideshare zone and the traffic control plan is managed by the Moody Center.
Lozano said she’ll continue driving for Lyft but will be declining rideshare requests at the Moody Center moving forward.
“It’s just not worth the money to be in that situation,” she said, later adding: “If you’re gonna have Lyft and Uber in the city, you need to do a better job of making it a safe way for people to use transportation.”
In a statement to KXAN, representatives for the Moody Center said this rideshare location was selected “in hopes of releasing congestion between red lights.” The spokesperson said they chose this zone near the Frank Erwin Center to help drivers avoid road construction along East Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Robert Dedman Drive.
The Moody Center releases “Know Before You Go” emails before the start of each event on key customer information, including rideshare zones. After a show begins, digital signage inside and along the Moody Center’s plaza directs patrons where to go, the spokesperson said.
Digital signs along the I-35 South Frontage Road help direct rideshare drivers to the Frank Erwin Center, they added.
“Fans can easily reach the rideshare location by walking to the east side of the arena and then taking the sidewalk along the I-35 South Frontage Road,” the spokesperson said in an email. “We understand this building is new and it will take some time to for patrons to familiarize and drivers themselves with the current plan.”