Be warned, Sydney and Melbourne: taking an Uber car for a ride around the city this New Year's Eve will probably be a frightfully expensive affair as the service adopts controversial "surge pricing" for the big event.
Uber, for those out of the loop, is the private car service of the future. You don't want a smelly, unreliable cab coming to get you? Just tap and request an Uber car via your smartphone and a driver comes and chauffeurs you to your destination. It's about 15-20 per cent more expensive than a regular cab service, but for the extra touch of luxury and civility, it's worth it.
Here's a list of the base fares for reference.
Uber doesn't actually own any vehicles, it just uses its service to connect hire car drivers around Sydney and Melbourne to people needing rides. Uber, however, does set the prices for these rides.
For New Year's Eve and the wee-hours of New Year's Day, Uber is set to adopt surge pricing here in Sydney and Melbourne. Surge pricing basically means that the service gets more expensive as fewer cars become available. Here's how Uber explains it:
Uber fares will increase if client demand outstrips our supply of Uber cars — and will automatically decrease when there are enough free cars for everybody. We do this to make sure Uber is always a reliable ride, even during New Year's!
That means that between the hours of 6pm tonight through to 8am tomorrow morning, you should expect to pay extra for your Uber ride — sometimes even three times as much.
NYE pricing is not for the faint of heart. The average surge multiple will be about 2x normal prices, during the worst times (12:30 AM until 2:45 AM), but prices during extreme spikes could cost you $100 MINIMUM before time and mileage charges! These are limos, people, so be careful with those Uber ride requests: Uber rides will be reliable on New Year’s Eve, but they’ll also be pretty pricey.
If we do a bit of napkin-based maths based on the pricing above, feasibly expect to pay close to or even over $150 for a cab from the Sydney CBD to Bondi Beach (3x $47).
This isn't Uber's first rodeo when it comes to so-called surge pricing. Uber used surge pricing last New Year's around the US and copped flak for not telling passengers how much extra they should expect to pay until the car had actually arrived. This year the app has been modified to tell passengers how much extra they should expect to fork out before even ordering a car.
The Uber booking app will even come with its own "sobriety test" when the surge pricing gets really high to make sure you're not booking while drunk and getting angry when it comes time to pay up. When the multiple gets high you'll have to type the number into the app by way of confirmation. That's actually pretty smart.
The only problem is that these new features only works on iOS, sorry Android peeps. (Update the fare multiplier warning works on Android and iOS. Thanks for getting in touch, Uber Sydney.) Make sure you update your app before you leave the house to make sure you're not sprung with extra costs. You can read more on Uber's surge pricing from the company's co-founder here.
However you're getting around tonight, make sure you have a safe New Year's celebration, and remember, you can always watch the fireworks online if you prefer to stay home.