Uber, Lyft to Refund Passengers Charged with Surge Pricing in Brooklyn

Should Uber and Lyft drivers be expected to respond to every single ride request, even if it takes them into an active crime scene? Editor-in-Chief Melissa Berry steps in for this week’s rideshare roundup, where we cover the latest news out of NYC, plus Uber’s hardball tactics in Tanzania and more. 

Uber and Lyft will refund customers charged with surge prices near the site of the shooting. (The New York Times

Summary: Ride-share apps Uber and Lyft announced on Tuesday that they had paused surge pricing for rides ordered near the site of the shooting and would refund surge fees charged after the shooting happened… Katie Kim, a spokeswoman for Lyft, also said in a statement that Lyft would refund riders for surge fees charged at the time of the incident…

My Take: Oh wow, talk about a story with different reactions depending on whether or not you’re a passenger or driver! According to this article, passengers are complaining about how people need to “get out safely” and therefore Uber and Lyft should turn off surge…

Except what are drivers? Not people who also don’t deserve to get out safely? We posted this story to the RSG Facebook page, and this response (from RSG reader Jennifer) kept coming to the top:

“Maybe next time Uber can turn off the surge, and the passengers can get angry when no drivers are willing to get anywhere near an active shooting scene.”

To be fair to The NY Times, this story isn’t about whether or not drivers should have to drive to an active shooting scene, but rather how Uber and Lyft are reimbursing passengers who were charged surge prices…

But it would be nice to know: will drivers still be paid the surge pricing, and will Uber/Lyft eat the surge charges on their end? Or will this come out of drivers’ pockets?

Uber cites tough regulations as it suspends Tanzania operations (TechCrunch

Summary: Uber suspended its operations in Tanzania today, citing a tough regulatory environment that has made it difficult for the ride-hailing company to continue running in the East African country.

In a statement, Uber noted the “guide fare” by the Land Transport Regulatory Authority (LATRA) as the main contributor. The authority sets and approves fares for ride-hailing operators in the country, taking away the ability of companies like Uber and Bolt to set prices. The authority recently doubled the per-kilometer rate for ride-hailing companies due to increasing fuel prices…

My Take: Hold up, you may be saying, this is Tanzania, not the United States – why should I care? But if you keep reading, you’ll notice that Tanzania did something US drivers have been advocating for weeks/months: increasing the rates paid to drivers per mile vs. per ride due to higher fuel surcharges.

In the US, the ‘compromise’ was Uber and Lyft would pay drivers 45-55 cents per ride to compensate for rising fuel costs. When we asked you on the RSG Facebook page, the majority of drivers said these fuel surcharges should be applied per mile, not per ride.

Tanzania agreed, and Uber decided to suspend its operations in the country rather than acquiesce to this demand.

What do you think of this drastic move from Uber?

Also in the news…

DoorDash adds cheaper subscription tier for takeaway-hungry students (The Verge)

Thoughts: DoorDash introduces a cheaper version of DashPass (normally $9.99) for college students, which will cost $4.99. It’s clearly been a while since I was a college student because this isn’t that appealing to me? I just wanted whatever place I ordered from to take my ‘Bulldog bucks’…

College students/people who interact with college students: is this something you’d sign up for?

Uber service resumes in Kyiv (The Hill

Thoughts: Love to see a “semblance of normalcy” returning to Kyiv after Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine 50+ days ago. Uber is also not charging any fees on trips, meaning the full fare goes directly to drivers, is donating 10,000 free trips to city government employees and emergency workers, and offers free rides to Ukrainians traveling to the Polish border.

I know we like to give Uber a hard time occasionally, but this is all really great news. Good job, Uber!

But what do you say – did you see the shooting news in NYC and hear about Uber/Lyft reimbursing passengers their surge charges? Do you think drivers shouldn’t receive surge pricing in those cases?

-Melissa @ RSG