Uber has taken plenty of heat for its surge-price policy during busy hours, but the e-hailing startup tried to assuage this backlash Monday by announcing a feature that will let customers know when surge pricing has ended.
Riders dissuaded by surge pricing during periods of high demand will be able to set a push notification that will tell them when prices have returned to normal. “Maybe you don’t need to have a ride right now and can wait 20 minutes or so for when surge pricing ends,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said at the Launch Festival in San Francisco. “You’re constantly creating a system where supply and demand clear.”
Kalanick said Uber drivers “love surge pricing” and the highest fare paid was 9.25x the normal price on New Year’s Eve. “Our goal is to get the cheapest ride possible, because we’re trying to become a mainstay in the transportation space,” he said. “We need to provide a reliable ride when you can’t get one. But at the end of the day there are thousands of people or tens of thousands of people who got a ride when they wouldn’t have already had one.”
Though Kalanick has been a strong defender of surge pricing as a way to increase the service’s reliability, the company recently announced a number of initiatives to make the service more accessible, including the lowering of UberX fares in 16 cities. Uber also launched a ride-sharing service in Paris earlier this month.