Uber drivers could be the envy of the Washington region Wednesday. With Metro shutting down for more than 24 hours, Uber is expecting its rideshare business to boom as people scramble to get to work.
Prices, however, will be capped at 3.9 times the normal rate.
That’s potentially good news for riders. When Metro suspended service at a few stations last May, people who opted for Uber reported that prices surged to nearly five times the normal amount. Uber’s price model is based off surge-pricing — a tactic that has proven controversial during emergencies, with many saying it’s simply a form of price gouging.
The company will also extend its uberPool service throughout the region. uberPool allows people to share rides at a cheaper price with passengers traveling along the same route. That service is not offered in Maryland, but will be Wednesday.
“We will work around the clock to keep DC moving tomorrow,” the company wrote in a statement. “We are extending uberPool to the entire metropolitan area during the closures to maximize every car on the road while also keeping prices down for riders. Passengers using uberX to travel with neighbors or co-workers can use the Fare Split option to share the cost of their trip.”
Uber said that all first-time riders can use the promotional code METRODC when they sign up for the app to earn up to $25 for a first ride.
Lyft, another ridesharing company, is also expecting a busy day. It warned customers that getting a ride may take longer than normal. The company is also giving first-time customers $20 off their first ride if they type in the promotional code METROHELP
“We are doing everything we can to get as many drivers as possible on the road to help people get around,” spokesperson Paige Thelen wrote in a statement.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser implored companies at a press conference Tuesday evening not to take advantage of customers while they are desperate for rides.
“We have a little more ability to know what the taxi cabs are doing,” Bowser said. “But we expect our business community to … not take advantage of the situation and all of our enforcement agencies will be on alert for that,” she said.
(Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos is an investor in Uber.)
Aaron C. Davis contributed to this report.