Uber Offers Free Rides During Sydney Hostage Crisis After Surge Pricing Backlash

After prices spiked as high as four times the normal fare (with prices starting at about $100 AUD) during the ongoing Sydney hostage crisis, Uber has backed away from its surge pricing policy and is now offering free rides out of Sydney’s central business district (CBD).

Uber’s surge pricing feature kicks in during times of high demand and is designed to encourage more drivers to get on the road. This helps increase the supply of cars during busy periods like New Year’s Eve and Halloween, but unfortunately can make the company, which has suffered from a round of public relations headaches recently, seem tone-deaf when shortages are due to emergencies.

According to Uber Sydney’s Twitter account, rides away from the central business district will be free for customers, while higher rates are still in place for riders who want to get into the area, in other to encourage more drivers to make the trip.

Uber generally covers the cost of free rides for drivers, but TechCrunch has contacted the company to confirm that.

This is not the first time Uber has placed a halt on surge pricing during emergencies. For example, the company has a policy in the U.S. to put caps on pricing in the U.S. during crises and national disasters, a policy it first implemented with the state of New York.