Uber has agreed to cap pricing during disasters and states of emergency in the U.S.
More specifically, the ride-hailing company will keep prices during emergencies below the three highest-priced non-emergency days during the preceding two months. Uber will also donate its surge trip commissions (20 percent of the fare) to the American Red Cross.
The company had been widely criticized for profiting from disasters like Hurricane Sandy and last winter’s snowstorms in New York. Previously, Uber had argued that increasing prices was the best way to entice drivers to get out on the road during those events.
Uber announced the new policy in a blog post yesterday, but it’s getting more attention today due to an announcement by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who said this price cap brings Uber into line with the state’s laws against price gouging.
A spokeswoman for Uber said the pricing caps and Red Cross relationship had actually gone into effect late last week, in preparation for Hurricane Arthur.
Separately, but also in New York, Uber competitor Lyft said it will launch in Brooklyn and Queens this Friday with two weeks of free rides from 500 drivers.
Lyft said it was responding to strong demand, noting that more than 75,000 people had opened its app in New York before it ever offered service there. The company had previously said part of the reason it raised $250 million this spring was in order to launch in the people-moving mecca of New York.
Also separately — well, probably not! — Uber announced yesterday that it was cutting prices in New York by 20 percent for UberX, its product that competes most directly with Lyft.