Science and Tech


Avoiding Uber's Surge Pricing Isn't All That Difficult

Uber's surge pricing is easily avoidable. If you wait a little — or walk a little — you can pay normal, non-surge prices.
Posted at 2:59 PM, Oct 31, 2015

new study has found Uber's surge pricing isn't as effective at getting new drivers on the road as the company says, and it's actually pretty easy for customers to avoid it.

Uber's surge pricing feature has been a bit controversial. Basically, when there is a high demand the price jumps up to encourage more drivers to get on the road. 

But the service has automatically kicked on during emergencies, such as Hurricane Sandy and the 2014 hostage crisis in Sydney, which outraged many users. 

Interestingly, the researchers found Uber's drivers don't seem to like it either.

The study's lead author, Northeastern University professor Christo Wilson, told ProPublica, "What happens during a surge is it just kills demand. So the drivers actually drive away from the surge."

The good news is it's relatively easy to avoid. Since surge pricing doesn't usually last more than 10 minutes, you can just wait it out. 

Also, you could just walk a short distance away from a busy area; the researchers found the price surge only affects a relatively small area. (Video via Uber

For its part, Uber says surge pricing means riders get to maintain a solid arrival time. But that might just be because fewer people request an Uber when it happens, instead of more drivers getting on the road. (Video via Uber

This video includes images from Getty Images.