The cost of an Uber ride is going to be cheaper starting today in around 80 U.S. and Canadian cities, according to a company blog post. More cities will experience rate cuts in the weeks to come. The move is meant to increase the number of passengers requesting cars during the post-holiday season, during which, to quote Drake, people are no longer “wearing less and going out more.”
Rides will be 10% cheaper in San Francisco and Los Angeles, 15% cheaper in Richmond, Virginia, and 20% cheaper in Houston. Prices won’t change at all, however, in Boston, Chicago, or New York — which suggests that cold winter weather may not be directly tied to Uber’s pricing strategy.
Uber has done this every year for the past two years, and says, in most cases, the strategy has increased demand for rides, and subsequently, the amount of money that Uber drivers make. In cases where it hasn’t (like last year in Seattle for example) Uber says it’s reversed the changes in order to protect drivers.
During this period of change, the company also says it will be “guaranteeing earnings for drivers to ensure that no one is disadvantaged.” But at least one driver told Bloomberg that, with Uber, “the guarantees don’t last.”
In Philadelphia this week, a group of UberBLACK drivers staged a protest and announced that they were suing the company over what they see as unfair wage control that should make them employees. UberBLACk drivers pay more for the luxury vehicles they drive on the service, but are often made to drive at lower rates on UberX, especially when overall demand is low. The company’s ability to artificially control pricing and demand is worrisome to these drivers, many of whom are paying expensive leases for the cars they’re driving in addition to other expenses.
At the end of the day, Uber is the company it is today because of its ability to carefully manage its marketplace. Since it launched nearly seven years ago, hundreds of companies have attempted to follow suit. Today’s changes are one more tweak in a larger balancing act.
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