Did Uber Rides Actually Get Cheaper?

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Uber has been in the news a lot lately for lowering their prices across many U.S. and Canadian cities. Last week our team at TaxiFareFinder did a little bit of research on Uber’s supposed “lower prices” and came to a major conclusion.

While Uber did indeed lower standard mileage prices in over 100 cities, they also raised their minimum fares and recently increased the price of their safe rides fees. This means that in some situations, passengers will actually end up paying more than before Uber lowered their fares! Let’s take a look at some numbers below.

First, Uber decided to raise their Safe Rides Fee this past fall. According to Business Insider, this fee was first introduced in April 2014, as a way for Uber to recoup the costs of running its background checks and providing 24/7 support to its riders. The Safe Rides Fee used to be only $1 regardless of where you hailed an Uber, but now Uber is calculating this fee based on your zip code. Apparently, Uber believes the price of “safety” is different depending on where you live. Is Uber really trying to make some kind of statement about each city’s relative risks and the costs of finding drivers who have no criminal charges and a safe driving record?

Surprisingly (or perhaps not), Uber didn’t just slightly raise Safe Rides Fees, in fact some cities had their Safe Rides Fee more than doubled! Passengers from Inland Empire in California and Northwest Indiana are now paying $2.45 and $2.50 respectively. Many other cities such as, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Ventura, Knoxville, Fort Myers, Naples, Indianapolis, and Jacksonville are also all above the $2.00 mark. Remarkably, Uber users in New York City are still able to hail their Uber car without paying any fee! That’s right the Safe Rides Fee is free in NYC and Halifax, Canada.

After Uber raised Safe Rides Fees, they then decided to increase minimum fares as well. The minimum fare is the least amount a passenger can pay for an Uber ride. In other words, if a passenger takes an Uber around the block, they will still get charged as though they took the car 4 blocks in an effort to reimburse drivers for short trips. While this raise on the minimum fare is great for drivers, it may come as a shock to some passengers who usually use Uber for short rides, especially when passengers will be expecting a lower fare due to Uber’s price cuts. Instead passengers who now take Uber on short routes will actually end up paying more than before Uber lowered their fares, plus, they will be paying a higher Safe Rides Fee as well!

The moral of the story is passengers who are planning on using Uber for short rides, shouldn’t expect their fares to have decreased as it has been projected across the media. In fact, they should expect to pay a little more than before!

Discovery Channel’s Newswatch TV Reviews TaxiFareFinder (Video)

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In case you missed it, Discovery Channel’s news program, Newswatch, aired a special segment on TaxiFareFinder this morning. Andrew Tropeano, host of Newswatch, reviewed TaxiFareFinder and to our delight, gave a glowing review!  During his review, he stated that both TaxiFareFinder and RideGuru are helping users to become more informed as travelers by allowing them to know the fare before they ride in a taxi or rideshare vehicle. If you didn’t get a chance to tune in this morning, check out the segment below and let us know your feedback!

About Newswatch

NewsWatch is a weekly 30-minute consumer oriented television show that airs on the Discovery Channel and ION Network. NewsWatch regularly features top technology products and services, mobile applications for iOS, Android, and Windows devices, unique and beautiful travel destinations around the world, health and medical tips, and entertainment interviews on the show. NewsWatch airs on the Discovery Channel at 7:00 – 7:30 AM ET/PT.

TaxiFareFinder Releases New Mobile Site (Press Release)

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Our TaxiFareFinder team is excited to announce our newly optimized mobile-friendly website! Designed with our “on the go” fans in mind, the new site is user friendly and easy to navigate from all mobile and tablet devices. The new mobile-friendly site is organized vertically with buttons in the top menu that will bring a user directly to their desired place on the site allowing for quick and easy access to our many features. Also, the TO and FROM location boxes that help a user find an estimated fare are prominently shown to ensure easy access and quick taxi fare results. Try out our new mobile-friendly site today on your mobile or tablet device to see how simple it is to find rates and fares on the go!

To view the Press Release please click here.

 

To view a Text Only Press Release please see below.

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Boston, Massachusetts – November, 2015 – TaxiFareFinder launched a newly optimized mobile-friendly website that offers information and resources to taxi and rideshare travelers. Designed to be user-friendly and easy to navigate, the new site provides users with all the tools they need to quickly find fare estimates on the go.

The innovative new site has a responsive design that works well with mobile and tablet devices. After researching their user base, the TaxiFareFinder team determined that many of their visitors were accessing their site via mobile devices, leading to the creation of a mobile site that allows users to easily access key information with simple one-touch navigation.

TaxiFareFinder’s new mobile site is organized vertically with buttons in the top menu that will bring a user directly to their desired place on the site. Also the TO and FROM location boxes that help a user find an estimated fare are prominently shown to ensure easy access and quick results.

Once a user enters TO and FROM locations, details regarding estimated fare prices are produced in an easy to view graph. A detailed map of the route is also provided for the user’s convenience.

TaxiFareFinder hopes this engaging new platform will greatly benefit their users in quickly finding travel information and estimated fares via their mobile devices.

 

About the Company
TaxiFareFinder.com was launched in 2007 to help improve the communication between providers of ground transportation and their customers. The calculator tool is based on a proprietary algorithm that takes into account a multitude of considerations. TaxiFareFinder utilizes up-to-date taxi and rideshare rates from over 1000 localities, covering thousands of cities. This information is carefully and constantly monitored for its accuracy by their staff and supporters from an active community. TaxiFareFinder also offers tools, such as an API and WordPress plugin, which enables taxi companies and travel authorities to provide their own fare estimates on their websites or mobile applications. For additional questions or inquiries, please contact the TaxiFareFinder team via http://www.taxifarefinder.com/contactus.php

Would Uber Be Better Without Surge Pricing?

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Over the past couple years, the term ‘surge’ has taken on a whole new meaning.  If you’re not familiar with why it’s so famous, surge is a feature of the popular ridesharing app Uber, and it signifies increased pricing during times of high demand.

According to Uber’s website, “At times of high demand, the number of drivers we can connect you with becomes limited. As a result, prices increase to encourage more drivers to become available.”  On the surface, it sounds simple enough: when demand for rides outweighs available drivers, Uber raises prices to get more drivers on the road.

But as research has proven, surge actually turns out to be more of a re-distribution of drivers than anything else.  And veteran Uber drivers know that it’s a fool’s errand to chase the surge.

Christian Perea, an Uber driver who’s driven in three major cities, told me, “Wise drivers do not chase surge. They do their homework and patiently anticipate it. I only move towards surge areas if they are within five minutes driving distance or if I know that there is a high likelihood of consistent surge for a period of time.”

Would Uber Be Better Without Surge Pricing?

So When Does Surge Work?

Since surge pricing can be so dynamic, it doesn’t work all that well to get drivers off the couch (because it could easily disappear after just one ride).  But it does entice drivers to come out during the biggest events (like New Years or Lollapalooza) and during the busiest times (like the Saturday night closing bar rush when everyone wants to get home).

Driving the party hours (Friday and Saturday nights) is notorious for unruly passengers and drunken rides but there also tends to be a lot of surge.  Uber drivers work these hours because they anticipate increased demand and surge pricing.  I know that I wouldn’t drive a bunch of drunks around until 3 am if I could make the same amount at 2 pm on a Friday.

But while drivers tend to love surge, those same feelings are rarely shared by passengers.  New Year’s Eve is often a prime example of this with fares surging all the way up to 8.9x in certain parts of the country.  A quick sampling on Twitter would tell you that there were a lot of pissed off passengers too.

But Surge Is Great For Drivers Right?

You might think that an Uber driver who earns $89 for a fare that normally costs $10 would be happy about that.  But to them, it feels like Uber is going overboard.

Perea told me, “Surge isn’t as important to me.  I would rather see higher base fares and minimum fares. A driver should get $5 from each ride, seeing payouts for $3.20 on a minimum fare is outright insulting. Especially since they occur often in densely populated areas where it is most difficult and dangerous to drive.”

Perea is referring to the fact that on a $5 minimum fare, drivers only receive a $3.20 payout after Uber’s $1 safe rides fee and 20% commission.  It’s also interesting to note that fares have been cut up to 50% in certain cities like San Francisco over the past year so a 2.0x surge fare today is actually the same price as a regular ride was last year.

Should Surge Be Capped?

This week, NYC Mayor, Bill de Blasio, fresh off a swift defeat at the hands of Uber, proposed a cap on Uber’s surge pricing.  His last tussle with Uber involved limiting the number of Uber cars available in NYC but that was met by a flurry of lobbying from Uber and pressure from NYC residents.  Ultimately, De Blasio backed down on that initiative.

This new strategy to limit surge appears on the surface to target and win over consumers who have legitimate gripes about surge pricing.  But again, it could end up back-firing.  Without surge, there is really no incentive for drivers to be out on the road during times of peak demand which means rides aren’t even available for customers.

Uber has also made it very clear that they oppose any and all restrictions that would cap fares during times other than an emergency like an earthquake.

Should Uber Get Rid of Surge?

Uber is one of the most consumer-friendly companies out there today.  But the one area where they’ve refused to back down from, is surge, which tells me they must know something that we don’t.  According to a blog post by Bill Gurley in 2014, Uber recognized this problem early on.

Many of their drivers were logging off and going home at 1 am, just as all of the partygoers needed a ride home.  Asking drivers nicely to stay online didn’t work, but when they offered a 2-3x premium, low and behold, 2/3 of their unfilled requests were now being filled.  It turned out that drivers were responding to price elasticity.

Gurley also noted that “the next time you see a message indicating that Uber’s surge pricing is in effect: immediately try an alternative other than Uber. In other words, try to hail a cab, call a traditional black car service, find a rental car, or jump on a bus or subway. You will find that availability and reliability for all forms of transportation are under stress at that same precise moment in time. At these times, a fixed price taxi will be highly unavailable, and a fixed price subway will be remarkably over-crowded.”

And there in lies the reason why Uber shouldn’t ever get rid of surge and won’t.  Uber’s number one priority is being reliable and surge pricing makes it so that you can always get a ride when you need it.

There are a lot of passengers who complain about surge pricing but clearly they are still willing to pay it (otherwise they wouldn’t have taken the ride in the first place).  Uber has even gone to great lengths to make sure that riders understand and are aware of surge pricing.  Riders have to physically type in the surge multiplier when requesting a surge ride and they also now have the option of being notified once the surge goes down.

All of these changes have made surge more rider friendly and although it’s still an aggravating feature of Uber, it appears as if it’s an essential part of balancing supply and demand.

 

About Harry Campbell, The RideShare Guy

Hello TFF Readers, my name is Harry Campbell and I run a blog for rideshare drivers called The Rideshare Guy and I also write about the on demand economy for Forbes.  I’ll be sharing articles from time to time on what’s going on in the world of rideshare and what you need to know as a passenger whether you enjoy taxis, rideshare or all of the above!

 

What The Uber?! Uber Gets Hacked!

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Happy What The Uber Friday! We are used to hearing about Ubers impending court cases and underhanded fights with taxi companies, but recently there have been rumblings that Uber may be facing even bigger problems than their constant battles with the legal system. Lately, a few sources have started reporting that the multi billion dollar tech giant is being hacked for its Uber account information.

According to The Washington Times, cybercriminals are now selling compromised accounts on the dark web and various Uber users are getting charged for rides they never ordered. Unfortunately, the number of compromised accounts is only growing and the number of fraud cases that have been reported now amounts to roughly 3 percent of all Uber rider’s accounts, according to The Register. Motherboard has also recently reported that the price being paid for these hacked accounts on underground marketplaces has dropped from $1 an account to only 40 cents as of August 2015.

Uber did release a statement saying, “Our security teams are laser focused on protecting the integrity of our community’s Uber accounts, we use technical measures to detect any issues and are always enhancing the measures we deploy to protect our users’ accounts. We also encourage all of our users to choose strong and unique usernames and passwords and to avoid reusing the same credentials across multiple sites and services.”

Has your Uber account ever been compromised? Tell us your stories below!

 

If you have a What The Uber moment or want to share a What The Uber story please email [email protected] or use the hashtag #WhatTheUber to get your story featured and shared on our social media!

What Ride is Best for You?

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Need a ride? All the options available at the touch of a button can be overwhelming — Uber, Lyft, Sidecar, the rideshare services seem endless. Let us help you! Answer a few simple questions and let TaxiFareFinder lead you to the best ride option for you.

 

Looking for a one-stop price-checker to better sort through your options? TaxiFareFinder has released a convenient Uber, Lyft, Taxi Comparison Calculator, RideGuru, to give you the power to discover the least expensive transportation option in your city. Through TaxiFareFinder’s RideGuru tool you can compare options and choose your ride based on price ahead of time. This way, you are always in control and aware of the final cost. Be prepared and get where you need to go!

What The Uber?! Jay Leno (and his chin!) Drive for Uber!

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How cool would it be to have an Uber car pull up to your house, and when you step inside you find yourself face to face with a Celebrity Uber Driver. If you live in Los Angeles, this could happen to you!

Jay Leno and Uber have teamed up to allow Leno drive for their Uber Black service around Los Angeles on October 7th in order to promote his new series Jay Leno’s Garage. Apparently for the lucky few who happen to request Jay Leno’s Uber, they won’t be able to recognize him at first as he will be dressed from head to toe in a disguise. He does promise though to reveal his true identity before the end of your ride.

Whether you are a Leno fan or not, “The King of Storytelling” is bound to come up with some great small talk, so if you are one of the lucky few riders you will be sure to have an interesting conversation. And the best part is while you cruise through LA with Leno as your driver, your ride will be 100% free!

If you have a What The Uber moment or want to share a What The Uber story please email [email protected] or use the hashtag #WhatTheUber to get your story featured and shared on our social media!

Which One? Uber vs. Lyft vs. Taxi

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Trouble navigating the world of rideshares, taxi services, and other transportation options? Using RideGuru, we have broken down the costs of two of the major rideshare services, Lyft and UberX, and traditional taxi services. The costs of these three transportation options are compared in five major cities in the United States. Ride on!

To see the full RideGuru comparison breakdown:

Boston | Chicago | Dallas | Los Angeles | New York City 

What The Uber?! Uber Rebels against Ban on Rideshares

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While many cities are quickly adapting to Uber and its practices, some cities are still reluctant to allow Uber to operate. Back in December of 2014, Paris banned UberPOP from operating due to safety concerns regarding the ease in which a civilian could become a driver. However, since the ban has been in effect, Uber has decided to ignore the law and not pull out of Paris. In fact, they are actually secretly encouraging their drivers to continue picking up passengers! How are they getting away with this defiance?

Apparently, Uber is telling their drivers that they will pay any fines that the drivers may incur while driving during the ban. While the company never directly says this to the public, an UberPop driver in Paris was quoted telling the New York Times that Uber has paid for his and other UberPOP driver’s tickets. The New York Times article goes on to further indicate that Uber routinely tells their drivers that they have nothing to worry about, and that they should simply go talk to Uber representatives in Paris if they are issued a ticket for driving during the ban. It seems as though Uber, in typical “What The Uber” fashion, is trying to convey a strong “Stop me if you can” message to the government.

Surprisingly, after a little digging we found out that Paris is not the first city where Uber has deployed this tactic. According to an article published by TechCrunch, Uber is also paying for these fines in the Netherlands, Charleston, Victoria and Burlington, however, Uber is trying to keep this little known fact quiet. A representative at TechCrunch contacted Uber for comment regarding this new report, and while Uber didn’t directly confirm these accusations, they did hint that the company was paying for these fines by stating “We are and will always be supporting our drivers”.

UPDATE: Two Uber executives— Uber France’s CEO Thibaud Simphal and Uber Europe GM Peirre-Dimitri Gore-Coty — were arrested in Paris on Monday, June 29th for running an “illegal taxi company”. Seems as though these rebels may be in for a wake up call!

 

If you have a What The Uber moment or want to share a What The Uber story please email [email protected] or use the hashtag #WhatTheUber to get your story featured and shared on our social media channels!