When Man Haron Monis took 17 people hostage at a Lindt cafe in Martin Place last week, Uber’s cab fares surged to four times their usual, making it difficult for citizens to leave the area safely.
The company first said that this was done to encourage more drivers to pick up passengers from the CBD, and after a major outcry from Twitter users, offered rides out of the area for free.
On Wednesday, Uber sent out an email apologizing to its users in Sydney, saying it is “truly sorry” about the incident. The statement mentions that “surge pricing is algorithmic and kicks in automatically when demand for rides outstrips the supply of cars that are on the road. This encourages more drivers to the area where people are requesting rides.”
We didn’t stop surge pricing immediately. This was the wrong decision. We quickly reversed course and provided free rides to people needing to leave the CBD. In the end, no rider was charged to leave the CBD on Monday and all higher fares resulting from surge pricing earlier in the day were fully refunded.”
The company has also said that it is “working to standardise a global policy to ensure we’re serving communities in the most efficient, effective and helpful way possible at all times.”