Uber is raising its fares 10 percent in Pittsburgh, the city where the company is currently building a gigantic facility to build and test self-driving cars. The story was first reported by a reporter from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, who also tweeted that Uber cited the need for drivers to earn more money in its explanation to customers. A week before, it raised fares in a handful of smaller cities, like Louisville, Kentucky, Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Ventura and Fresno, both in California.
Uber announces to Pittsburgh users is it raising fares 10 percent, citing need for drivers to earn more.— Melissa Daniels (@melissamdaniels) March 31, 2016
Last January, the ride-hail company said it was slashing fares in 100 cities in North America to "beat the winter slump" when demand traditionally drops. Many drivers complained, and some rallied in protest, but Uber argued its plan worked and demand was up across the board.
the city where Uber happens to be working toward a future where drivers will be obsolete
Pittsburgh, aka Steel City, is where the company is building its so-called Advanced Technologies Center, which includes temporary roadways to test self-driving cars, as well as housing for workers and park space. Also, some of Uber's prototype autonomous vehicles have already been spotted on Pittsburgh's streets. In other words, Uber wants drivers to earn more money in the city where it happens to be working toward a future where those same drivers will be obsolete. This, in addition to recent fare cuts, has increased the anxiety among some Uber drivers.
But even with the increase, fares in Pittsburgh will still be pretty cheap. In July 2015, the average Uber fare dropped 15 percent, with Uber citing a need to increase the number of trips. Fares went down another 20 percent in January, when the company slashed prices in markets across the US and Canada. In an email to customers in Pittsburgh, Uber says the fare increase would help ensure surge pricing is in effect less frequently.
A spokesperson for Uber noted that in its January announcement about fares cuts it said, "if drivers aren't busier, prices will go back up again." As Uber continues to monitor the data, other cities may see fare increases in the weeks to come.