Surge: Pain or Gain?

Disruption

During the recent SMRT train service disruption on the North-South Line (25 November 2015), ride-booking service Uber activated its surge pricing during the two-hour disruption.

The prices reportedly went up as much as 3.8 times the usual fare.

This was not the first time Uber made news by placing a price surge on its service as a result of a train disruption. In July 2015, a 3.5 hour train disruption across the North-South and East-West Lines saw Uber users having to pay higher fares. According to Channel NewsAsia, one user paid around $124, which was five times her usual fare.

Uber said it turned off the dynamic pricing mechanism after finding out the extent of the disruption and the number of people stranded.

It added that “moving forward, if such situation does rise, our team will assess it accordingly and take the necessary action.”

As always, there are those who oppose and those who support the price surge.

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(Comments from Straits Times Facebook)

Many feel that the surge pricing is good because it allows those who really need the transport urgently to get to their destination.

Without the price surge, then Uber will end up being like any other traditional taxi operator which is constantly being fully booked.

In speaking up for the taxi drivers, the National Taxi Association urged the Land Transport Authority to review charges and fees of point-to-point transfers to allow taxi drivers to compete fairly and to allow the commuters to have easy access to clear and transparent fee structures.

Would this mean a possibility of Taxis having a similar system as Uber’s Surge pricing implemented?

But here’s a question: what happens if a commuter really needs a ride and is unable to afford one because the surge pricing has increased exorbitantly?

Would the day come when only the person who is able to afford the highest price surge get the ride?

Should something be done to help the situation?

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Arthur Lee

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