Uber “takes advantage” of soaring fares: outraged passengers

Five years ago, hailing an Uber ride from Midtown to the Lower East Side would cost 23-year-old Julianne Elise Beffa between $13 and $20 for a night out on the town at her favorite Lower East Side watering holes. Today, that same route costs him between $35 and $50 each way.

“Years ago, I paid the price of a drink to go to my favorite bar. Now I pay the cost of more than three drinks each way,” Beffa, a master’s student at NYU who also works in public relations, told the Post. “I spend $200 a weekend just on Uber.

“When the subway is not a safe option and Uber is, I have no choice but to pay the price or stay home. Considering all the dangerous situations, it prevention is better than cure,” Beffa said.

New Yorkers are tired of paying outrageous amounts for Uber and Lyft rides, which have skyrocketed during the pandemic due to a driver shortage but have remained high even with more employees driving. Ride-sharing fares rose 92% between January 2018 and July 2021, according to data from Rakuten Intelligence, and continue to climb. Back when Uber first became popular in 2013, fares were comparable to yellow cabs due to artificially discounted prices.

Julianne Elise Beffa, 23, is fed up with Uber price hikes, she said.
Matthew McDermott

Arun Sundararajan, a professor at NYU Stern School of Business, said it’s only a matter of time before consumers start paying more for their rides.

“In the beginning, Uber and Lyft were losing a lot of money to gain market share. The price was too low compared to the economy, and that’s a common strategy. You have a ton of VC [venture capitalist] money and you burn it buying customers – it was natural to expect prices to go up over time,” Sundararajan said. “There are [now] a wide variety of supplements and fees. I think part of the challenge here is that the company very early on expected things to always be cheap.

A shortage of taxis leads to fewer alternatives: The number of yellow taxis has fallen from more than 10,000 a day before the pandemic to just 982 in April 2020, and is now around 3,500 a day, according to data from the city. Last month, Uber announced it would start listing yellow cabs on its app from this summer amid its own driver shortage. The move could potentially lead to an increase in taxi fares as they move from standard pricing per kilometer (with a small surcharge at peak times) to a supply and demand model.

Reviewers say the sticker shock isn’t long-lasting — and sometimes downright unethical.

On Tuesday, after the horrific subway shooting that injured at least 29 people, Uber and Lyft appeared to adopt higher pricing as strong demand drives fares higher. There was an outcry from runners on social media – including Shannon McDonagh, who tweeted an image from the app appearing to show a $68.49 fare from Sunset Park in Long Island City. (An Uber spokeswoman told The Post that the company had put a “cap” on all prices, but did not specify the amounts. The next day, the company agreed to reimburse passengers who seen charging surcharges near the Brooklyn subway station. Lyft also said it would adjust fares for customers who were paying higher prices at the time of the shooting.)

Josiah Teng, a therapist from New Jersey is pictured here.
Josiah Teng, a therapist from Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, said his Uber fare has gone up 30% since mid-2020.
Courtesy of Josiah Teng

Hours after the horrific subway shooting, Beffa opened the Uber app before meeting friends for dinner on the Upper East Side and almost did a double take for $42 to get 10 minutes after the peak hour. She rather reluctantly took the subway.

“I was trying to avoid the subway because of the shooting, but there was no way I was paying $42 one way,” Beffa said. “Just going somewhere can end up costing more than dinner.”

Josiah Teng, 26, a therapist based in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, paid $40 to travel from Fort Lee, NJ, to his office on 176th Street in the Bronx twice a week. Before the pandemic, Teng recalled shelling out $25 for a one-way ticket, but noticed the cost slowly increasing throughout 2020 to around $27. In 2022, he said the one-way fare has jumped 30% – between $35 and $39 each way. But he had no choice.

“The price spike has been gradual…I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s now $50,” Teng told the Post, noting that he’s now able to work from home more frequently and is relieved to save nearly $80 on his daily commute to the office. . Travel aside, he’s still looking for hobbies – visiting his significant other in Hoboken also fell from $18 pre-pandemic to $22 in mid to late 2020, to between $30 and $35 over the past four months. Lyft, he said, costs $5 to $10 less but ultimately takes longer to flag down than Uber.

The cost of Teng's Uber ride between her loved one's home was $25.71 in October 2021.
The cost of Teng’s Uber ride from her loved one’s home in Hoboken to Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on October 11, 2021 was $25.71.
Courtesy of Josiah Teng
The cost of Uber from Teng from Hoboken to Englewood Cliffs was $37.65 on March 27, 2022.
The same route was $37.65 on March 27, 2022, just five months later.
Courtesy of Josiah Teng

“If it’s about convenience, we just bite the bullet and use Uber,” Teng said, calling it “huge frustration.”

“Just wonder if they are [Uber] taking advantage of the situation and it’s a very unpleasant feeling,” Teng said, adding that the violent attacks on members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community have given many of his friends no choice but to revenge because they refuse to take the metro. .

“Many of my friends who are AAPI say they have no alternative – they are willing to buy their security.”

A spokesperson for Uber told The Post of the ongoing price increases: “Over the past few years we have seen a new $2.75 congestion surcharge from the MTA, an increase in the surcharge state-mandated black car fund and, most recently, a 5.3% TLC-mandated rate increase [Taxi and Limousine Commission]. All of these charges result in higher prices for consumers.

A New York-based Uber driver who spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity on Wednesday drove with the company for five years and said he was paid about $1.17 per mile and 50 cents per minute.

The Uber app and a dollar sign.
Uber prices continue to rise.

“Five years ago, it was better because there were fewer drivers. It’s all to do with supply and demand,” the driver said, adding that they had to work more hours to compensate for rising petrol prices. “They really don’t care about the drivers.”

As gasoline prices jumped 18.3% for the month of March, Uber announced a temporary surcharge for US customers excluding New York of 45 cents or 55 cents per ride, d for a period of at least 60 days. Lyft riders had to pay a 55-cent fee that would go to drivers due to rising gas prices. Uber and Lyft also raised their minimum wage rates for drivers by 5.3% in March after being mandated by the TLC.

Sergio Avedian, a Los Angeles-based Uber and Lyft driver, said he made $3,000 a week when he started in 2016 but now only drives 8 hours a week during peak hours, so that it can get closer to $35-40 an hour. .

Uber driver writes a sign on the car that says "need money 4 gas!"
Uber drivers are struggling to make ends meet with rising gas prices.
Paul Martinka for NY Post

“The reason I was making so much money was because the rates paid to drivers were almost more than double what they are today. Drivers were paid $3.25 per mile. Fast forward to 2022 and an Uber X driver gets paid 60 cents a mile, which is why a lot of drivers give up,” said Avedian, who also contributes to Rideshare Guy, a watchdog blog and podcast for Uber and Lyft drivers.

Beffa, meanwhile, isn’t happy about having to put her nightlife on ice to save money, noting, “New Yorkers shouldn’t have to choose between safety and bankruptcy.” .

Lance B. Holton