East Coast Blizzard: Uber to Cap Surge Pricing & Donate Proceeds to Red Cross

They're supposed to cap surge pricing in "emergencies," but no one thinks its likely that this blizzard will count.

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uberWinter storm Juno is already making its social media debut. East coasters are doing all they can to prepare: stock up on groceries in case it’s as bad as they say it will be, crossing their fingers for some bonus snow days, and of course, brace themselves for Uber surge pricing.

According to TechCrunch and Bloomberg, Uber’s maligned surge pricing (put in place when demand for services is higher than normal) will not rise above 2.8x. Additionally, proceeds during the storm will be donated to the American Red Cross for relief efforts.

Mashable reported this morning that Uber, under some duress, has promised to not implement surge pricing during emergencies. After an agreement in New York last year:

The formula for natural disasters is now limited to the normal range of prices the company has charged within the preceding 60 days minus the three highest prices charged during that period.

If you read that about three times it makes sense. Basically, there will be a surge but it has its limits. Lyft caps its “surge” at 200% for comparison’s sake. But that’s for official emergencies, mayor in front of a podium sort of natural disaster. Check this language out, from Uber CEO Travis Kalanick last year: 

This policy intends to strike the careful balance between the goal of transportation availability with community expectations of affordability during disasters. Our collaborative solution with Attorney General Schneiderman is a model for technology companies and regulators in local, state and federal government.

That doesn’t sound very generous does it? The predicted storm is supposed to be bad. But there’s always that chance that it won’t be totally, store all of the NYC subway trains underground bad. Which means there are going to be lots of hours that are just really snowy, windy, and miserable. You’ll be paying surge pricing to get to and from your office and your warm, cozy, house.

Here are some early complaints: