‘Are you my Uber?’ might be the question of the weekend

CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, at the Time 100 gala. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, at the Time 100 gala. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

At MSNBC’s after party to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner Saturday, lucky (and maybe even a little tipsy) guests won’t have to elbow their way through a black-tie clad crowd to get to their black car. In the AT&T Departures Lounge the chauffeur-less can relax (and charge their phones even) while waiting for their Uber ride home. But what about the rest of us?

We chatted with Uber’s D.C. general manager, Zuhairah Washington,  the woman whose job it is to make sure you get from point bar to point bed in one piece. “We’re definitely keeping our eye on the weekend,” she said.

Sounds like that five-letter word — “surge” — might get bandied about, especially Friday, a traditionally off night during the dinner’s weekend-long celebrations, that’s now nearly 10 parties long. But Washington says there’s no way of knowing.

“There is no person sitting at the lever saying, ‘Yes, tonight’s going to be busy, let’s jack up the prices!” explained Washington. She added that surge pricing, which is when Uber charges its customers more because of increased demand, are determined by how many cars are empty when you press “request.”

This weekend the company hopes to get as many cars on the road as possible by offering monetary guarantees and pointing drivers to high concentration spots, like the Institute of Peace, where Google and Netflix are hosting their joint extravaganza, complete with stars of “Orange Is the New Black.” 

“When it happens its not a pleasant experience,” said Washington of the dreaded surge. “We try to minimize it as much as possible.”

When we asked how the company’s CEO,  Travis Kalanick, who’ll attend the dinner as a guest of Time, planned on navigating the growing party puzzle, Washington didn’t hesitate: “Uber!”

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Helena Andrews is the co-author of The Reliable Source. Follow her on Twitter @helena_andrews, and send your hot tips, sightings, and gossip to reliablesource@washpost.com.
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Helena Andrews · April 30