Yes, there is always a catch
On Thursday, Uber will bring scheduled rides to New York City, which allows for advance booking between 30 minutes and 30 days for its uberX, UberXL, UberBlack, Uber SUVs and VIP rides. Already popular among commuters during rush hour, the scheduled rides are also commonly used for transportation to and from airports, appointments, or entertainment venues.
This travel option was introduced to the U.S. in June and has been rolled out across 130 cities in the country, and 200 globally.
Emergency exemption by law
Uber claims that surge pricing will still apply for these pre-booked rides. However, according to New York state law there is a price cap during emergency situations, such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters. Uber reached this agreement with the state after suffering from bad PR over its surge pricing during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and from making similar arrangements in other cities in the wake of public security crises in their jurisdictions. Before rolling out scheduled rides in New York City, Uber faced its first test of this policy last weekend, and it unfortunately experienced a hiccup:
— Uber NYC (@Uber_NYC) September 18, 2016
Last weekend, parts of Manhattan and then the entire Northeast Corridor rail line running through New Jersey into New York lost public transportation service due to a terrorist attack. Many residents opted for Uber rather than waiting for commuter bus and rail to resume fully in Manhattan, and their high volume of requests automatically triggered the algorithm governing the company’s price surges. Uber undid this once informed it was an emergency situation and has since offered refunds for anyone who did pay the higher rate in New York City.