Uber Will Cap Surge Pricing During Northeast Snowstorm

With a huge blizzard bearing down on the U.S. Northeast, Uber is instituting a cap on its surge pricing during the storm. In an email being sent to New York passengers, the company said prices will not exceed 2.8x its usual fares.

The cap comes after an agreement struck between Uber and the New York City Attorney General’s office in January 2014 that required Uber to limit prices during “abnormal disruptions of the market”, including emergencies and natural disasters. Uber also announced a national policy for its price limits during those emergencies.

In an email to Bloomberg, Uber said the following:

Dynamic pricing will be capped and all Uber proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts.

The company later clarified to TechCrunch that the cap will be in place in any market that has declared a State of Emergency.

While Uber plans to limit dynamic pricing during this storm, the company has had a bad history with emergency situations and surge pricing. In late 2012, Uber received criticism for raising fares during Hurricane Sandy. (The agreement with the NY AG came in part as a result of Hurricane Sandy backlash.)

Uber has defended surge pricing in the past, noting that the higher rates lead to more drivers being out on the road at times when passengers are having a hard time getting around. But as the company has grown, Uber has been working to compromise with local regulators and city officials in markets around the world.

Full text of Uber’s letter to NYC passengers below:

Dear ______,

A major nor’easter is expected to hit the City tonight bringing heavy snow and blowing wind over the next 2 days. We wanted to provide a quick update about how your Uber rides will be affected by the storm.

Due to the State of Emergency declared in New York City, prices will not exceed 2.8x the normal fare.

This reflects Uber’s national policy developed with New York Attorney General Schneiderman that balances the goal of reliable transportation options with affordability during disasters: Anytime a disaster or state of emergency strikes, dynamic pricing is capped and all Uber proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts. On your receipt, you will see a donation from Uber to the American Red Cross.

A few things to be aware of:

Higher than normal ETAs: Please be patient as demand for rides may be higher and wait times may be longer than usual
Limited destinations: We have reminded partners of the importance of driving safely in inclement weather—in areas where there is uncleared snow, driver partners may not be able to pick up or drop off riders
Take caution: Please monitor news sources for the most up-to-date information about the storm and follow federal, state, and local safety directives

Whatever this storm brings, we’ll ride it out together.

Uber on,
Team Uber NYC