Uber faces backlash for Sydney siege price hike

16/12/2014

Taxi app Uber has been forced to reverse its decision to increase cab fares to four times the usual price during the seige tragedy in Sydney's Martin Place, following a social media backlash.

This week's Martin Place siege in Sydney led the cab-hailing company to reverse its decision and offer free rides.

Several hours into the hostage situation, Uber defended its higher fares in a tweet that explained surge pricing had kicked in to encourage drivers to accept passengers in the Martin Place area.

“We are all concerned with events in CBD,” Uber’s tweet read, referring to Sydney’s Central Business District where hostages are being held in a Lindt cafe and thousands of workers and pedestrians had been evacuated from the surrounding area.

The tweet continued: “Fares have increased to encourage more drivers to come online & pick up passengers in the area”.

Prices surged to a minimum of A$100 (£52), or four times the usual fare, with the additional cost of A$4 per minute or A$9.69 per kilometre.

After a backlash on social media, where Twitter users criticised Uber’s pricing model as “shameful”, “absolutely disgraceful” and “vile”, the ride-sharing app said it would offer free rides during the siege.

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Uber said in a statement: “Uber Sydney will be providing free rides out of the CBD to help Sydneysiders get home safely.”

The company added that it would refund rides out of the Central Business District that had already been paid for at surge prices and that the free rides are limited to one trip per person.

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