Commuters trying to get to their destinations in the midst of a Red Line derailment, massive crowds on shuttle buses, and drenching rain Tuesday morning were hit with huge surges in prices if they tried to hail an Uber or Lyft.
Lyft prices to go from the JFK/UMass MBTA station to downtown Boston — a roughly 3-mile trip — spiked as high as $123 around 8:15 a.m. The price for a shared ride, during which the driver will pick up and drop off other passengers in exchange for a discount, was $91, while a larger car known as a Lyft XL (typically the most expensive) cost a staggering $201.
Red Line passenger Shannon Accardi thought Lyft may be a good alternative to waiting in the rain for shuttle buses. But when she checked the ride sharing service, she learned that surge pricing on Lyft had pushed the price of a 2-mile trip to JFK to $58 per person.
Another customer trying to hail an Uber from Ashmont to Lechmere station was quoted at $77 for a solo ride and $65 for a shared ride. A message above the fare said, “it’s busy, fares are a lot higher than usual.”
An MBTA Red Line derailed at JFK/UMass around 6 a.m. on Tuesday, causing major delays that affected not only the subway but the commuter rail and even the Southeast Expressway, when State Police briefly closed the Exit 15 ramp.
“Following this morning’s train derailment, there were more people requesting rides than there were drivers available to provide them,” a Lyft spokesman said in a statement Tuesday. “This caused areas around the derailment to experience Prime Time pricing, an automatic response that serves to incentivize drivers to head to busy areas. We are always working to ensure riders have access to transportation, and our thoughts are with those who were onboard the train.”
The practice of raising prices has sometimes drawn a backlash during emergencies. Uber faced a huge public pushback after customers fleeing a 2017 terrorist attack in London were hit with surge pricing. Uber said it had disabled surge pricing within an hour of the incident.