Uber Zone Based Surge Pricing
Here was the email I received about the updated app:
I used it last night during the snowstorm here in Boston. Here are my thoughts:
- At this time, I am unsure if this change is only in Boston. NYC definitely has this policy in practice (lower Manhattan vs Upper Manhattan or Brooklyn, for example) but not sure they were changed yesterday or a while ago.
- If you are a driver and have not gotten a notice to update your application, you will not see the new features. When you log in, you should see the update notification. It takes about a minute to update.
- Heat maps are gone temporarily (they say for a few weeks) but I usually know where the hot spots are anyway.
- If you’ve seen the heatmap of Boston, they are split up into a few zones (not all are listed):
- Copley/Newbury/Boylston Street/Back Bay
- South End
- South Boston
- Central Cambridge
- Western Cambridge (Harvard)
- Now surge pricing is based on zones. During a small period of time during the snow storm in Boston last night, multiple zones were under surge pricing. For the most part, Cambridge was unaffected. I believe at one point they had a 25 or 50% surge but that was it. Downtown had the highest, at 3-4x. South End and Back Bay also had surge pricing. I did not check the Allston/Brighton area.
- Surge Pricing seems to be activated more often in certain areas of Boston. There was surge pricing well into 10pm on a weekday night, which would not have happened before.
- As a customer, you can check where the surge pricing is going on by moving your location around the city and check prices or the lightning symbol for UberX. This is the way I’ve done it in the past and I did it last night to see where the highest demand was without going online on my driver app. I would also use this technique to track the surge pricing over time. If you see it recede towards the highest demand zone like Downtown Boston, it means you should wait before trying to get a ride to reduce the surge pricing.
- Keep in mind that surge pricing is dynamic so if its really high, like 2 or 3x, wait a few minutes to see if it goes down. If there is some reason why its high, like snow, rain, severe cold or heat, then expect it to last longer.
- The zone based surge pricing is a great addition for consumers and drivers alike. It properly incentives more drivers to be in the busiest areas like downtown and Boston city area. It is also great for consumers in that those furthest from the city are not affected by the demand.
- The one downside for consumers is that those in the busiest areas will be paying more for their rides, instead of the surge being averaged out over the entire Boston area. I will monitor the rates to see if it goes up compared to the old surge pricing practices. So far from this morning’s commute, it was higher, going from maximum of 2x Monday to about 3x today.