Ride or Die
With most subway lines suspended or running on limited service, getting around New York has been nothing short of nightmarish. Yesterday, amid cries of price gouging, San Francisco-based Uber (which allows users to hail a black car from their phone) decided to postpone “surge pricing” in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The company decided to turn off surge pricing for customers, but to still pay drivers surge pricing in order to incentivize them to get out there and provide rides to stranded New Yorkers.
Now, in an email sent out to Uber NYC users, the company claims that just one day of this pricing structure has resulted in a $100,000 loss to the company, “something we can’t continue indefinitely without breaking the bank.”
According to Crunchbase, the company has raised $49.5 million in venture funding.
App for That
It’s a rainy weekday during rush hour, and every cab is occupied or conveniently “off duty”–especially when you tell the driver that you’re headed to Brooklyn. Desperate times call for desperate measures: You tap open the Uber app on your phone and call a sleek black town car to your location (ooh la la). A well-mannered driver picks you up a handful of minutes later and you’re whisked away, feeling like a Real Housewife. It’s all well and good until you arrive at your destination and the receipt pops up on your cell phone: $50 for Midtown East to Chelsea. (True story.)
This is the main predicament of Uber, an app geared towards tech-savvy twenty-somethings which the majority of tech-savvy twenty-somethings cannot afford to use. Each shiny black car in New York a $7 base fee and is $3.90 a mile after that. Compared to yellow cab rates, Uber basically costs an arm and a leg (though during rush hour giving up your leg for a goddamned ride seems like a fair deal).
Lucky for the budget-conscious among us, Uber is introducing hybrid vehicles into its fleet in both San Francisco and New York, which promise to provide a more affordable ride experience than the Mr. Big-esque town cars.