Ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft announced Wednesday that they are continuing to suspend surge pricing after widespread criticism on social media over sizable rate increases as people were trying to escape a subway shooting scene Tuesday in Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
Both companies also said riders in the area who paid inflated prices — which, according to screenshots online, appeared to climb into the $60s, $70s and $80s for basic rides Tuesday morning — will be automatically refunded the extra cost. The refunds will not affect drivers’ salaries, the companies said.
In addition, Lyft said it has activated its LyftUp Disaster Response program across New York City until Friday, offering rides at lower rates to help ease the burden on riders while the public transit system is affected by the tragedy.
On Tuesday morning, an attacker wearing a gas mask flooded a subway car with smoke in Sunset Park and then opened fire, wounding 10 people, authorities said. No one was killed, police said.
Soon after, some people on social media started criticizing Uber and Lyft, posting screenshots of highly inflated pricing for riders in the area. Surge pricing is a common practice used by ride-sharing apps during periods of high demand to incentivize more drivers to meet the increased need for rides. It is dictated by an algorithm.
One Twitter user shared a photo showing a price of $68.49 for an UberX — Uber’s standard service — urging the company to suspend surge pricing to let people “get out safely.”
@Uber turn off surges in sunset park. People are scared, let them get out safely pic.twitter.com/e31KIPE3ND— Shannon McDonagh (@shananigans022) April 12, 2022
Another showed prices ranging from $85 for an UberX to $145 for a Black SUV — its luxury car service. “Fare surge after a mass shooting in Brooklyn when subways are shut down. Shame on you @Uber,” the person tweeted.
Amid the backlash, Uber and Lyft announced that they had frozen pricing in the area.
“Our hearts go out to the victims of this morning’s terrible shooting in Sunset Park. Uber has capped pricing citywide, and if anyone experienced unintended charges in the area during the emergency, we will work to refund them,” Freddi Goldstein, a spokeswoman for Uber, said Tuesday in a statement.
Lyft spokeswoman Katie Kim said in a statement that Lyft had also suspended surge pricing and was “working to adjust fares for certain riders who paid Prime Time prices when the situation first unfolded.”
Neither company has said how long it will continue to cap pricing in the area affected by the shooting.