Pope Francis’s visit this week is likely to disrupt your commute, and if you are planning to take a taxi or use Uber and Lyft, you can count on those services being up and running.
The bad news is you should also expect some challenges on the road with those services as you would if you were driving yourself. And you should anticipate high demand that could impact wait times–and in the case of ride-share, higher prices for your ride.
Street closures related to the pope’s visit– and the related traffic backups, detours and delays– will impact pretty much every mode of transportation, especially on the roads.
Ride-share companies are projecting high demand during the papal visit. Remember that the Metro system will be extremely busy with scores of visitors and commuters. So, if you choose the app-based car services, be aware of possible surge pricing, which is the result of real-time supply and demand.
“We can’t predict whether it will and to what level it may be in effect,” Uber spokesman Taylor Bennett said. “Though we do expect a large influx of riders and will do our best to meet that demand and be as reliable as possible.”
Taxi drivers are also anticipating higher demand. Royale Simms, an organizer with taxi drivers affiliated with the Teamsters, said drivers are ready for the extra fares.
“Everyone will be out on the street to meet the demand,” Simms said. The drivers compare the papal events to inauguration, he said noting that “on days with huge crowds in the city you will work a lot… They get some sleep the night before and look at street closure maps so they can be familiar with alternate routes to events. It’s all about getting passengers to the best drop-off points in the quickest possible time. They are ready for tomorrow.”
Some taxi companies are encouraging people to make reservations for service. This might be a good idea if you are traveling to the airport.
Officials with Uber and Lyft say they have been preparing for weeks to ensure they provide as many rides as possible throughout the papal visit. The companies will be sharing traffic information with drivers to help them navigate through the congestion and road closures and are prepared for unique traffic patterns.
Surge pricing is possible since it’s a strategy the companies use to encourage drivers to stay on the roads.
Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson said the company will be directing drivers about the best times to get on the road in the city, and “always make sure to alert them when big events, like the Pope’s visit, take place so that they know a high number of passengers will be needing rides.”
Wilson said the company’s surge pricing, known as Prime Time, is “capped at 200% to motivate drivers as much as possible while keeping prices lower than other platforms.”
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