Councilman David Greenfield, who represents Bensonhurst, Borough Park, and Midwood, introduced legislation today that would put a cap on Uber's surge pricing, prohibiting the app from being able to raise fares more than 100 percent. Currently, Uber's able to hike fares up 900 percent "when demand outstrips supply," leaving people with insane bills for rides taken in inclement weather and during peak drunk weekend hours.
This, Greenfield says, is unfair. "Surge pricing is a fancy name for price gouging," he said in a statement today. "It's an unchecked system in the regulated taxi and livery industry that takes advantage of New Yorkers. A yellow cab in New York City may not charge you $225 for $25 ride simply because it's snowing—neither should Uber." His bill would penalize drivers violating surge pricing, hitting them with fines ranging from $200 to $1000 for repeat offenses, and could subject them to a license suspension. The bill will go before the Transportation Committee for a hearing.
This isn't the first time Uber's had to address surge pricing, and earlier this year, the company agreed to limit fare hikes during emergencies and natural disasters. When reached for comment, an Uber spokesperson said, "Uber worked closely with the New York Attorney General earlier this year on a policy that balances the goal of transportation availability with community expectations for ride affordability during disasters and remains compliant with New York State law on pricing." She also referred us to a blog post from July, also related to natural disaster pricing.
Note that Uber does alert you before subjecting you to a price surge, though your beer-goggled brain may tap away at that "8x" hike warning in a misguided attempt to find its way to bed ASAP, leaving you with a surprise credit card alert in the harsh, hungover light of day. All of this, of course, only affects you if you haven't already deleted the Uber app from your phone and replaced it with, say, Lyft, or Snoopify. While the latter won't help you get home at night, it will help you add animated blunts to all your Instagram photos, and you can't put a price cap on that.