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Here's Why Uber and Lyft Drivers Are Artificially Creating Surge Prices

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23.05.2019

If you took an evening Uber or Lyft ride from Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C. recently, chances are you paid more than you were supposed to. That's because rideshare drivers at that airport have figured out a way to manipulate their employers' apps and artificially create "surge" pricing, according to a report by local ABC affiliate WJLA. And it seems highly likely that if those drivers learned how to artificially create surge prices, Uber and Lyft drivers at airports in other cities are doing the same.

Surge pricing is a premium (calculated in different ways)​ that Uber and Lyft charge in situations where demand for rides is likely to outstrip supply--for example at rush hour or when a stadium event lets out. It's intended to ensure that there are plenty of drivers available when they're needed, and in my experience it does that pretty well. It also compensates drivers for the likelihood that they'll be stuck in traffic at these times. Although it's difficult for riders to determine just how much of what they're paying goes to the driver, drivers do earn substantially more during surge times than non-surge times. So it's certainly in their interest to make surges happen if they can.

And, it turns out, they can. While a reporter looked on, a group of about 50 drivers for both Lyft and Uber sat at their waiting area at Reagan National waiting while two drivers watched online to see when planes were about to land. After a plane lands, a lot of passengers request rideshare rides, which pushes demand up to begin with. But the drivers further tipped the imbalance between demand and supply by simultaneously turning off their apps five minutes before landing. Then two drivers stood at opposite ends of the waiting area, looking at........

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