Ridesharing service Uber has been heavily criticized in the past for driving up prices during emergencies and disasters. Users were billed hundreds of dollars for short trips taken in New York City last winter when the snowstorms rolled in, similar pricing was charged around the time Hurricane Sandy hit shores. The company announced today that from now on its pricing algorithms will be capped during disasters and states of emergency.
Uber promises that from now on surge pricing during emergencies and natural disasters will always stay below that of the three highest-priced, non-emergency days of the preceding two months. It should be kept in mind though that surge pricing would still be in effect if there’s high demand for drivers on the road, the lid is only there to ensure users don’t get gouged during emergencies or disasters.
Moreover the company also said that it will donate 20 percent of the fare from surge trip commissions to the American Red Cross. According to New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman Uber’s recent policy change now brings it in line with the state’s laws against price gouging.
The ridesharing car service also announced yesterday that it is slashing prices in New York for UberX by 20 percent. In some cases this makes rides in the basic Uber option cheaper than a conventional cab. This change comes as its competitor Lyft launches in New York, starting with two weeks of free rides from more than 500 drivers.