So do you ride the evil?
Generally speaking, the controversies are unfounded. Uber is a business, and markets are what they are, and in most circumstances surge pricing is a legitimate byproduct of those two things. Want an Uber at 11 p.m. on December 31? You can pay the surge fare, or you can do whatever you did before Uber came along: taxi or bike or bus or walk. “Surge pricing only kicks in in order to maximize the number of trips that happen and therefore reduce the number of people that are stranded,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told Wired.
What happened in Sydney today, however, is a reminder of the limits of that logic. As an armed hostage crisis played out in the city’s Central Business District, Uber increased its fares by up to four times the usual rate (leading to, in U.S. dollars, a minimum fare of $100).
This was not, apparently, a matter of an overly efficient algorithm. Uber gave, as an explicit justification for its surge pricing, the same explanation it always does: its desire to get more drivers on the road to help out, bringing supply and demand into happy alignment