SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — “BART, and you’re there,” was not a slogan that applied to Wednesday’s commute, and many riders turned to Uber to get across the Bay and around the city. With the surge in users came surge pricing, and many people took to social media sites like Twitter to voice their dissatisfaction.
Spence Whitney had been tweeting about his commute nightmare all morning, capping it off with, “’All I See is dollar signs.’ – Uber drivers today.”
Jack Clark tweeted “my Uber app already shows 2.1x surge,” for the afternoon commute.
On Thursday, Uber responded with the following explanation of the price change.
“Dynamic pricing is an algorithm that kicks in automatically to ensure supply and demand are balanced,” said Uber representative Laura Zapata. “Drivers who partner with Uber are independent business owners who work on their own schedules. When the demand from riders outpaces the number of cars on the road, an automatic dynamic pricing algorithm kicks in and increases fare prices to incentivize more drivers to come onto the platform.”
A Washington Post study suggests that the surge pricing can improve the total number of vehicles servicing the area experiencing the heightened demand both by encouraging new drivers to pick up passengers and by shifting existing drivers to the demand area. However, it can also lessen the demand by deterring passengers who are unwilling to pay the added fare.