Technology

Uber will cap surge pricing during East Coast blizzard

Uber will cap its controversial surge pricing during East Coast blizzard

Uber is taking a less frosty approach to the epic blizzard bearing down on the East Coast.

The ride-hailing app has announced that it will cap its controversial surge pricing -- when the cost of a fare soars during periods of heavy demand -- during the megastorm.

"Uber is committed to getting riders safely and reliably to where they need to be, and we urge everyone to use extra caution when out on the roadways today," the company said in a statement. "Per our national policy, during states of emergencies, dynamic pricing will be capped and all Uber proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts."

Uber said that when a state of emergency or disaster is declared, surge pricing will be capped at a price that excludes the three highest-priced, non-emergency days of the preceding two months. The company also noted that it had reminded drivers to drive safely during poor weather.

It's a smart PR move for Uber, which has been contending with a wave of criticism in recent months. Its executives have been slammed for allegations of fostering a sexist workplace; numerous riders have alleged they were sexually assaulted during rides; and taxi unions have tried to force Uber from operating in their areas.

Surge pricing during natural disasters has been a particularly hated business practice because it enables the San Francisco company to take advantage and profit during crises, critics say.

Uber's decision to turn on surge pricing during a massive Bay Area storm and during the Sydney hostage situation late last year incited the wrath of many riders, who vented their frustrations on social media.

After the Sydney crisis, Uber announced that it would begin to cap surge pricing during emergency situations.

Follow Andrea Chang on Twitter.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
65°