New York Daily News Brooklyn Pol:Ban 'Surge Pricing' For Uber, Lyft by Celeste Katz
A Brooklyn lawmaker wants to block Uber and Lyft from taking customers for a super-spendy ride during peak travel times.
"We need to be sure that these people are not regulating themselves and we do have to make sure that we are protecting our consumers," said state Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who's introducing legislation to ban "surge pricing," which he decries as nothing short of price gouging.
"Alternatives for transportation in busy cities are always welcome, but this practice of spiking fares is unfair and simply bad business," the Democratic legislator said.
Ortiz is not the first city pol to draft a bill to curb the services.
Last month, City Councilman David Greenfield (D-Brooklyn)proposed capping fare increases at 100% of the regular rate. And Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) wants the city to compete by launching its own taxi-hailing app.
Complaints against the services have grown with their popularity.
Just Monday, the Twitterverse exploded in outrage after Uber capitalized on a hostage crisis in Sydney by pumping up fares for riders trying to flee the area. Earlier this month, a judge in Madrid ordered a temporary shutdown of the rideshare service, calling it unfair competition.
Back in the U.S., a Denver man was horrified to find himselfstuck with a $539 bill for a trip of less than 18 miles home from a Halloween party thanks to Uber's policy of jacking up their prices when demand is high.
Asked to respond to the Ortiz proposal, which has yet to find a Senate sponsor, Uber spokeswoman Natalia Montalvo emailed, "Dynamic pricing ensures Uber remains a reliable ride in communities during times of peak demand. Our in-app features are designed to communicate the pricing repeatedly and require approval by the user before any trip is confirmed.
"Earlier this year, Uber worked closely with Attorney General [Eric] Schneiderman to strike a careful balance between the goal of availability of transportation options with community expectations of affordability during a disaster," Montalvo continued.
"During disasters it’s challenging to provide reliable rides when people need them. Uber will activate this pricing policy when disaster strikes or a relevant local, state or federal state of emergency is declared."
Uber just introduced a carpooling feature for New Yorkers, allowing riders to find others going their way and so split the fare.