Chicago Aldermen to Cap Ride-Share Surge Pricing
We’ve all been there. It starts to pour down rain, a concert lets out or more recently a train’s out of service and you’re in desperate need for a ride. Luckily you have ride-share services like Lyft and Uber to help you out right? Well, too bad surge pricing goes through the roof when you need a ride the most.
Most recently a CTA Brown, Red and Purple line emergency caused an incredible spike in surge rates for ride-share customers, increasing some fares up to an outrageous $110 ride on August 15. Many customers turned to ride-share apps out of desperation to get to their daily-work obligations. It was later discovered that the cause of all of this chaos was a body found on the tracks at Fullerton that literally stopped trains in their tracks. The train stop was closed for nearly three hours from 6:45 to about 9:30 a.m. that day. Uber later refunded customers’ bills from the incredibly-high surge fare to the normal fare charged the week previous while allowing drivers to keep the original rates. Lyft refunded passengers who contacted them to ask for a refund, but didn’t seek out customers who had experienced surge pricing during this tragedy.
This week aldermen gathered to discuss putting a cap on these outrageous surge pricings. At the head of this measure are Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) and the City Council Committee on Transportation and the Public Way. Together they’re seeking to cap ride-share companies like Lyft and Uber at a maximum of 150 percent of the average price for a ride a week before an “unforeseen emergency.”
The current proposed plan would make it so that during an “unforeseen emergencies” like “any actual or threatened terrorist attack, mass shooting, major disruption in public transportation, failure or shortage of electric power and inclement weather,” customers won’t have to pay incredible fare spikes. So, yes, this still means you’ll have to pay a little extra if you try and order an Uber after a Blackhawks game, but it would be in place to protect you from getting hit with outrageous fees when an actual emergency strikes.
Another part of the proposed deal may require ride-share drivers to be fingerprinted and photographed like some cities have been pushing for the last year. Ald. Beale has been a constant critic of both top ride-share companies and is pushing for more restrictions on operations to “protect the public.” However, Uber and Lyft have both opposed more restrictions, and if pressed too hard, may force them out of Chicago like we’ve seen in Austin. Austin previously required fingerprinting drivers, and when they showed no backing down, both companies left the Texan city. However, both ride-share companies returned to Austin after Texas killed the city’s fingerprint rule.
The future of ride-share companies is always a little unknown as we navigate a very new business idea and concept. The proposal is scheduled to go to City Council for consideration Sept. 6.