Eager to preempt another PR headache, Uber is promising to play fair in the snow this week. In an email sent out today, the ride-sharing market leader promised users that its infamous surge pricing wouldn’t skyrocket. But the decision wasn’t entirely Uber’s: The company struck an agreement with the New York City Attorney General last year, capping surge pricing during disasters in an effort to prevent trouble for riders and the company’s image alike.
During the current snowstorm, Uber pricing won’t exceed 2.8 times its normal rates, the company vows. The pricing cap will take effect in New York City and any other market declared to be in a state of emergency. Any proceeds earned from these death-defying rides through the snow will be donated to the Red Cross.
As Uber explained in its email this morning:
This reflects Uber’s national policy developed with New York Attorney General Schneiderman that balances the goal of reliable transportation options with affordability during disasters: Anytime a disaster or state of emergency strikes, dynamic pricing is capped and all Uber proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross to support relief efforts.
In late 2013, Uber raised eyebrows by charging up to seven times the normal rate during a big snowstorm in New York City. Its use of surge pricing during Hurricane Sandy created an even bigger PR headache, topping off a string of criticism that doesn’t seem to let up. And in December, after much public outcry, it reversed a surge price that was in effect as people fled a terrorist attack in Sydney, Australia.
High prices aren’t potential riders’ only concern, though: In New York, at least, the roads may not stay open all night. Mayor Bill de Blasio has ordered all non-essential traffic off the roads by 11 p.m., to make way for snowplows and emergency vehicles.