Ride-surge? Apps seeing rise in rates

BOSTON — The state of emergency now in place meant to protect people using rideshares is actually causing delays now. The initial idea was to prevent price gouging during an event like a snow storm but when the Governor used the state of emergency during the pandemic it was never imagined it would last more than a year.

Now with no price surging rideshares say they are having trouble attracting more drivers when demand on their apps increases. Emma Wright told us she has seen longer waits in the Seaport District.

“Sometimes it can be like 45 minutes to like an hour,” said Wright.

Lyft told us “We’re seeing big increases in demand for rides, as vaccines roll out and people get ready to start moving again.”

But there is an issue with meeting demand because the ongoing state of emergency during the pandemic prohibits price surging. Something rideshares say helped them attract more drivers during busy times.

Driver Jeissy Leger says the surge pay made driving worth it. “We have to hustle out here in the streets to try to make the money we used to make with the surge pricing,” said Leger.

Uber and Lyft are also telling us they are adding a stimulus package for drivers to help offset the price-surging gap for the next few months. The rideshares are offering incentives to drivers if they meet specific goals.

The state of emergency rule was meant for events like a snow storm so people could still rely on rideshares to get to work without having to pay more. But the current state of emergency has lasted more than a year. And with more people ordering rides again -- drivers say it’s harder to get to everyone on time.

“Before people waited 2-3 minutes, 5 minutes top. Now I hear a lot of complaints. People are like oh 45 minutes, an hour, an hour and a half,” said Leger.

Uber told us “we hope to work towards a solution with the state that allows for a reasonable amount of surge pricing during the continued State of Emergency.” In the meantime, riders say they’ll try to build in more time to their plans.

“Or I’ll check to see how long the wait is before I order,” said Wright.

The Governor has filed legislation to lift the provision but it is still pending.