Skip to main content

Uber will only cap surge pricing during the blizzard if New York makes it

Uber will only cap surge pricing during the blizzard if New York makes it

/

The ball is in the attorney general's court, basically

Share this story

Uber says it will cap surge pricing in New York City during this weekend's upcoming blizzard, but only under two conditions.

"If a state of emergency is declared, or the attorney general advises us the agreement has been triggered, then we will be capping uberX at 3.5x [the normal fare] and Uber BLACK at 2.8x, per the terms of the agreement," a spokesperson for Uber told The Verge.

uberX could be capped at 3.5x the normal fare

So far, no state of emergency has been declared in New York. Other cities and states along the East Coast have declared emergencies ahead of this weekend's forecasted snowstorm, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has issued a travel warning, but has not declared an official emergency.

That leaves Uber in the nebulous position of waiting for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to tell it whether this weekend's weather will be nasty enough to trigger the agreement he reached with the ride-hail company back in 2014.

Under that agreement, Uber said it would cap surge pricing during "abnormal disruptions of the market," such as weather, natural disasters, civil unrest, war, or a strike, that would activate the state's anti-price gouging laws. The cap would equal the fourth highest surged price in the city over the previous two months. After reaching the agreement with New York, Uber said it would voluntarily make it a nationwide policy.

That leaves Uber in a nebulous position

Schneiderman's office wouldn't comment beyond telling The Verge that it is open to the possibility of triggering the agreement. The attorney general issued a warning earlier in the day about price gouging, reminding businesses that New York state law "prohibits excessive increases in prices of essential goods and services like food, water, gas, generators, batteries, and flashlights, hotel lodging, and transportation."

It's entirely likely that New York won't get as much snow as its neighbors to the south. The latest forecast calls for between 6 and 12 inches to fall in the Big Apple, while other areas could get as much as 2 feet.

Uber's issues with surge pricing during emergency events are somewhat unique. Lyft has its own version of surge pricing called Prime Time, which goes into effect automatically during periods of high demand. But a spokesperson said Lyft disables it when a state of emergency is declared.

Terrible PR begets charitable acts

Most riders have learned to live with Uber's surge pricing, although some still complain loudly when they see their jacked up bill at the end of a ride. Uber provides ample warning to passengers about impending surge prices during periods of high demand, like Halloween or New Year's Eve. And the company has long argued that surge pricing is not only a good thing, but necessary, because it encourages more drivers to hit the road. (Although some critics say that Uber has been known to artificially drive up demand by keeping drivers off the road until surge pricing kicks in.)

The company says that when the cap is in effect, as it was during last January's (arguably pretty mild) snowstorm, it donates its cut of each fare — 20 percent — to the Red Cross. The charitable offer came after several instances of bad PR for the company, like when Uber activated surge pricing during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, or during a hostage crisis in Sydney, Australia, in 2014.

The effects are still lingering: Uber had to fend off rumors that it was charging passengers 400x the normal rate during the terrorist attacks in Paris last November. In fact, Uber had canceled surge pricing, and some drivers were said to be giving out free rides to frightened Parisians.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed 25 minutes ago The tablet didn’t call that play by itself

R
The Verge
Richard Lawler25 minutes ago
Green light.

Good morning to everyone, except for the intern or whoever prevented us from seeing how Microsoft’s Surface held up to yet another violent NFL incident.

Today’s big event is the crash of a NASA spaceship this evening — on purpose. Mary Beth Griggs can explain.


D
David Pierce30 minutes ago
Thousands and thousands of reasons people love Android.

“Android fans, what are the primary reasons why you will never ever switch to an iPhone?” That question led to almost 30,000 comments so far, and was for a while the most popular thing on Reddit. It’s a totally fascinating peek into the platform wars, and I’ve spent way too much time reading through it. I also laughed hard at “I can turn my text bubbles to any color I like.”


T
Youtube
Thomas Ricker7:29 AM UTC
Table breaks before Apple Watch Ultra’s sapphire glass.

”It’s the most rugged and capable Apple Watch yet,” said Apple at the launch of the Apple Watch Ultra (read The Verge review here). YouTuber TechRax put that claim to the test with a series of drop, scratch, and hammer tests. Takeaways: the titanium case will scratch with enough abuse, and that flat sapphire front crystal is tough — tougher than the table which cracks before the Ultra fails — but not indestructible.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Rihanna’s headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Apple Music’s set to sponsor the Halftime Show next February, and it’s starting out strong with a performance from Rihanna. I honestly can’t remember which company sponsored the Halftime Show before Pepsi, so it’ll be nice to see how Apple handles the show for Super Bowl LVII.


E
Twitter
Emma RothSep 25
Starlink is growing.

The Elon Musk-owned satellite internet service, which covers all seven continents including Antarctica, has now made over 1 million user terminals. Musk has big plans for the service, which he hopes to expand to cruise ships, planes, and even school buses.

Musk recently said he’ll sidestep sanctions to activate the service in Iran, where the government put restrictions on communications due to mass protests. He followed through on his promise to bring Starlink to Ukraine at the start of Russia’s invasion, so we’ll have to wait and see if he manages to bring the service to Iran as well.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 25
We might not get another Apple event this year.

While Apple was initially expected to hold an event to launch its rumored M2-equipped Macs and iPads in October, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman predicts Apple will announce its new devices in a series of press releases, website updates, and media briefings instead.

I know that it probably takes a lot of work to put these polished events together, but if Apple does pass on it this year, I will kind of miss vibing to the livestream’s music and seeing all the new products get presented.


E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.