Uber and Lyft lovers, New Year’s Eve prices may spike after midnight

31 Dec 2014 | Author: | No comments yet »

Almost $250 for 13 miles: Uber’s ‘surge pricing’.

Back in the day when taxis were yellow and didn’t have credit-card readers, we’d spend New Year’s Eve with friends gorging on pizza and pasta at John’s of 12th Street. New Year’s Eve: the day to overpay for everything from that glass of flat Champagne to the impossibly-high heels you’ll wear just once, to, once again, that ride home from Uber.Right off the bat, it’s important to note that Keith Livingston is a fan of Uber, although he wasn’t thrilled after recently taking a 13-mile trip with the service that cost $247.50. “I knew I was going to be paying more because it asks you to confirm, but it’s just crazy,” Livingston said Tuesday. ” You’re almost at their mercy because you don’t want to wait longer for a cab.” It’s also a timely warning.

Sometime after midnight, we’d start the dreaded trudge home, to wherever we were crashing, while trying to hail that rarest of creatures, the New Year’s cab in Manhattan. Surge pricing, which automatically kicks in during times of peak demand, will likely be in effect for several hours Wednesday night into Thursday morning, with prices peaking from 12:30 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. One year, we took somebody’s advice to hail cabs with a two-finger peace sign, which was supposed to proclaim our willingness to pay twice the metered rate.

Both Flywheel and Sidecar, the third largest ride-sharing company in the U.S. behind Uber and Lyft, have vowed not to raise prices during peak demand. Uber’s policy of “surge pricing” — which raises fares at times of heightened demand, giving more drivers the incentive to be on the road when passengers need them — has had a bumpy rollout. Flywheel, which partners directly with traditional taxi companies, is running a marketing campaign under the hashtag #SurgeFreeNYE, claiming riders who used other ride-sharing services last year were charged up to seven times the normal rate. It would normally be about a $45 ride, with the various fees and taxes. “We walked to the Fiesta parking lot and found our Uber driver,” Livingston explained in an email. “He told us it would be at a higher rate because of the surge pricing … but we were tired of walking and looking for a ride so we accepted.” The increase is part of a practice called surge pricing. Riders who use rival Lyft will also see a version of Uber’s price surge, called “Prime Time.” The feature is turned on when ride requests “greatly outnumber available drivers.” How much extra you’ll pay, Lyft says, depends on demand.

Last year, as Uber was expanding its operation, the app-happy set turned to the ride-sharing concept (a misnomer: people are selling rides, not sharing trips) and found themselves charged three and four times more than the ride normally would have cost. It’s a new app that works with regulated cab companies to let people summon a ride via their smartphones — just like Uber, Lyft and the other so-called ride-sharing apps.

From 8 p.m. on Wednesday until 3 a.m. on Thursday, the company is offering $10 rides in San Francisco, Seattle, Sacramento and San Diego, as long as the metered fare does not exceed $50. One of its most recent PR black-eyes occurred earlier this month when Uber raised prices for rides around Sydney’s Central Business District under its surge pricing policy during a hostage situation. When rates are more than double, the surge confirmation screen also requires you to type in the specific surge multiplier to ensure you understand what rates to expect. With many people out and about in Houston on Wednesday night, and hopefully wanting to safely get home if they’ve been drinking without driving, the demand for Uber and cabs is likely to be high.

– Congressman Steve Scalise says 2002 speech to white supremacists was “mistake I regret.” – Harvard Law School violated law in response to sexual-assault reports, U.S. finds. Rather they are “simply doing end runs around regulatory practices that have been in place for decades, practices designed to protect the public from, yes, price gouging, not to mention from being driven around by people who should not be trusted to perform that task. Surge pricing, on the other hand, is the free market run amok, and to an offensive level in Sydney. “The right thing to do is reclassify Uber et al. as taxi services and bring them under the appropriate, and stricter, local regulatory systems.

The Chronicle has asked for the permit applications for the first wave of Uber drivers, but city officials, citing a request by Uber, have asked the Texas Attorney General to weigh in on whether the applications are public record. Short of that, fairness dictates those local regulations be scrapped so the traditional taxi services can compete on a more level playing field.” I still think the best solution is to curb the ride-sharing model until those businesses follow the same regulations as cab companies. Reviewing the top Bloomberg News stories of 2014 is an experience that resembles a typical workday — a focus on important business and finance news, interrupted by the occasional “oh wow” surprise, often grim.

Then the company complained about the city releasing the number and Houston’s regulatory affairs department said it would need to check with the AG’s office. We were all transfixed that day by the growing recognition the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet that crashed in Ukraine had been shot down by Russian-loyal rebels. Months earlier, what may stand as the most confounding story of 2014 — the disappearance of another Malaysia Airlines jet, missing to this day — similarly grabbed our attention, producing the No. 6 most-read story of the year.

Two other stories that drew us away from stock prices and bond yields were “Ebola Worries Have Parents Pull Children From School in Dallas” (No. 32), and “Sydney Gunman Identified as Cafe Siege Extends Into Second Day” (No. 36). That means 29 states and the District of Columbia will have minimum wages above the federal level, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. We asked our Bloomberg colleagues to cite some of the stories that left a mark on them, and on the fields they cover, in the year that’s drawing to a close.

Sarah Rabil, a team leader for telecommunications, media and technology, said she’ll remember “all the moves IBM was making to reach profit targets that it ultimately had to abandon — a huge concession for a company the size of Big Blue.” As it did in 2013, IBM is ending 2014 as the worst-performing stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Alex Barinka reports. The story “was the first to highlight how a local labor dispute between McDonald’s and its Brazilian workers created an opportunity for those in the know to order a special meal that didn’t appear on menus: the McDonald’s version of Brazil’s traditional dish of rice and beans,” he writes. Nick Baker, leader for market structure, said stories on Chicago-based Jump Trading shed light on one of “the most important trading firms in the world” — a firm that, true to form, offered no help or comment.

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