Taxis Want To Remind You That They Won't Have Uber's Surge Pricing Over New Year's

The recent legalisation of UberX in Australia was welcome news just before the New Year shenanigans, even if it came with a $1 temporary levy and a public $250 million handout to taxi drivers. And while it's come at an opportune time, that's not forgetting the fact that being legalised won't stop Uber's famous surge pricing from hitting over New Year's.

Understandably, the taxi association is rather proud of this fact and would like to crow about it.

A few days ago, Uber's Australian boss David Rohrsheim came out and advised people to book a Uber ride before 11:59 PM tomorrow if they wanted to avoid the surge pricing. That in and of itself isn't much of a surprise. Uber's surge pricing can crop up automatically, sometimes to the company's detriment.

But with over a million people expected to roam Sydney's streets alone this New Year's, it's expected that prices are set to rise. "Getting drivers out there is our priority, higher fares mean more people will get home. We want part-timers to help out over the new year period through our UberX service," Rohrsheim told the Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday.

The taxi lobby, obviously, is a touch chuffed. "Taxis have regulated fares, meaning no bill shock or exploitation for customers, unlike Uber, which has been telling its riders to expect surcharging on New Year’s Eve," Blair Davies, chief executive of the Australian Taxi Industry Association, told Gizmodo Australia over email.

"Cutting through the jargon, surcharging simply multiplies the normal uberX fares so that consumers end up paying 200%, 300% or more, for the same trip. That may not seem much of a problem for rich people desperate enough to pay a lot more to jump the queue, but for average Australians, this type of price gouging just looks plain greedy," he added.

Earlier this year, CHOICE carried out 56 trips across Sydney between Uber rides and taxis. The consumer group found that, on average, Uber was 40% cheaper and its safety measures were roughly on par with your standard taxi service.

Uber's surge pricing is usually 2x to 3.5x the standard rate, meaning that a trip that would ordinarily cost, say, $15 could cost over $52.50. It's wise to expect the surcharge to be on the higher end of the scale, considering the number of revellers expected. With that in mind, the general saving you make with Uber probably won't come close to what you could get with a taxi -- although Uber's surge pricing is variable, and could end up being lower than expected depending on when you decide to bail.

Personally, if I'm in the city for New Year's I find it's easier to either catch public transport before festivities truly kick off or to not be in the city at all. Maybe that's just a byproduct of getting older and spending too much time in cramped spaces with drunk people. Alternatively, you could just keep partying until well after 6:00 AM, at which point Uber's surge pricing will have come to an end and the additional surcharges on taxis will have ceased too.

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    I for one am glad uber is causing so much of a headache for cabbies.
    Been in a cab 5 times and spent over $800 in travel fee's, late night fees, call out fees, return drive fees and more only to be treated like crap by each driver and them intentionally taking the 'long' way because they know the area better than me

      It's still cheaper than NYE surge pricing. Last year some woman paid $325 for a trip from the city to Coogee, which she said was normally a $30 cab fare. I believe Uber have addressed the problem since, the surge factor was something like 9 x the normal price, but at least you can go and look up all the fees and charges for taxis on a government website - - Uber can charge whatever they like.

      You can also negotiate with cabbies on longer journeys. My neighbour is a cabbie and he recently drove a car load of drunks from the city to Gosford. He said it would have been around $400 on the meter but they negotiated $250 ($50 each) and he was happy to do that off the meter (it's not his taxi). You can't do that with Uber.

        To be fair that woman ordered an uber black (ie. the deluxe BMW/Audi/Mercedes cars), so the comparison should be to a luxury hire car not a taxi. She paid $213, not $325, and paid $35 during for the same trip during daylight hours, not at 2:30am on new years day when tacis would also have their night tariff. Uber notifies you of surge pricing, which told her the trip would be 3.1 (not 9!) times the normal cost - which is around $69 for that trip in an uber black - ie $214, which is very close to what she actually paid.

        They also have a fare estimate button to check before you book, which has always been within $1-2 for any trip I've taken. She didn't use this and still complained that she wasn't given a cost estimate when she got in!

        Here is the news article to reference the actual numbers:

        At any rate I haven't been out on NYE for a while but I don't recall ever being able to find an available taxi regardless of the relative cost.

        And you can absolutely book private drivers with uber. I know people who get drivers they've met through uber to take them to the airport and pick them up regularly. It obviously doesn't happen the first time, but then it wouldn't with a cab driver either.

        Last edited 01/01/16 1:50 pm

          OK then, how about this one from two days ago - "Skye Shanahan of Quakers Hill told Fairfax Media she ordered an Uber ride from the North Sydney foreshore to Blacktown - a fare that would typically cost less than $100. She ended up paying $720, more than a week's rent, after a surcharge multiple of eight was applied to her fare." Nice, huh? And it is just one of several examples from NYE. Here is the link to the article -

    Taxi's just need to remind us that they have their same old overpriced fares....
    and tonight they come with a public holiday surcharge after 12:01am on top of a late night surcharge after 10:00pm.
    I'd rather walk.

    Luckily wont be doing any traveling tonight, but if i had to id still have picked uber over a taxi, its no competition when you can pre pay and set your destination, giving no reason for a driver to take you on a scenic route for more money

      I've been catching taxis in Sydney for more than 40 years and I have never even once been taken on the scenic route. Quite the opposite, a few cabbies have shown me shortcuts I never previously knew about, as well as proving to me that what I thought might be the long way around was actually quicker.

        cant say i have been to Sydney, but i can guarantee Perth's are abysmal

        I've been catching taxis in Sydney for more than 40 years and I have never even once been taken on the scenic route
        Whilst I've learned some shortcuts, I've had plenty try taking me on scenic trips, especially after a night out

      I've taken quite a few Brisbane taxis and the scenic route is pretty rare, here. It has absolutely happened, several times, but definitely a tiny minority of my trips. And some of those were very much by accident, with several cabbies actually switching off the meter once I'd advised them they were going the long way.

      I still pick Uber over a cab for the regular pricing, the convenience of ordering/paying, GPS tracking where the car is prior to arrival, and the fact that Uber drivers aren't told your destination and given the option to opt-out of the job, meaning you get your ride within a couple minutes at most.

      Cabs win out in a few very specific areas with their corporate cab-charge buy-in meaning I HAVE to use them sometimes, the fact that sometimes you're in a shitty zone to navigate/describe for a pick-up that has a rank with waiting cabs, the lack of surge pricing when it comes to events, and the ability to make an impulse decision to flag one down.

      Overall, you pick the right tool for your purpose. It's really just to Uber's benefit that their advantages are broader and more common for my purposes.

    If I have to pay a surge to use Uber I'm still happier to do that

      Why? Do you like to tell Google where you go and what you do?

        They already know where I live and what bars I go to

    So on the lower end of the surcharge, it will be just as expensive as a normal cab ride? And if you are paying more it's because the demand is so high that you'd likely not get a cab at all? I really don't see anything to be boastful about, Uber is still a better alternative.

      You can book a cab hours in advance and not have to wait at all. And you have to book Uber, you can hail a taxi on the street. I'll bet most people would get a taxi before their booked Uber ride showed up.

    No surge pricing = wait for hours for a ride home.

    Surge pricing = more Uber drivers want to work at peak times, so no long wait.

    Surge pricing > waiting for hours for a cab

      Exactly, why can't people understand this? It's supply and demand, if you don't want to pay a 3x surge than you can spend hours on new years morning waiting for a cab.

      If Uber weren't charging surge pricing in peak times you'd be lucky to get one anyway so why shouldn't they go to the person willing to pay extra? Any other industry charges like a wounded bull when they have a scarce resource with high demand.

        Taxis don't because the government has regulated them to protect consumers from exactly that kind of gouging.

          Another perspective is that they are regulated to give artificial monopoly value to the plates and licences which prop up the fortunes of political insiders. Many influential people own plates or make over-profits from the industry (Union officials, lib/labor party insiders, cabcharge). The artificial value of the plates mean drivers can not afford them, so a "slave labor" structure has evolved of credit-poor drivers at the bottom, vehicle owners leasing and plate investors getting passive profits on cheap borrowed cash above and cabcharge and booking networks fleecing us all. I largely stopped using cabs except for work years ago - I just cant generally afford them at the "guaranteed" prices the five layers extract from my pocket and catch the bus.

          A taxi can refuse a fair except at a rank, which they all avoid like the plague on NYE.
          And they don't always respond immediately to calls.
          And despite "regulation" I've been told flat rates well over expectation during peak periods, and even non-peak, especially if I pay cash
          And I've been told plenty of times "no eftpos"

          My point is without this you can't get an uber anyway (or would be unlikely to) during peak times due to the demand. Personally on NYE if I had to choose between waiting for hours in a taxi line or paying 3x surge I would pay the surge. You are warned of the surge before you order so no ones being gouged. You seem to make a lot of comments about uber and I suspect you may have a vested interest in the taxi industry yet you seem to not understand how it works.

            It's a bit of a different story when it's an 8x surge though, which is what happened over new years eve. No service is worth paying $240 for what would otherwise be a $30 fare, and in my opinion anyone who does think that's a reasonable price to pay for transport on NYE has a warped sense of value.

            Surge pricing isn't an unreasonable strategy. Uber's surge pricing is far too high though.

              If someone's willing to pay it than its a fair price. You don't have to use uber and when it comes to high demand why shouldn't the person providing the service benefit in this way. If no one was ordering than it would drop. Is $200k a reasonable amount to pay for a VW Combi? Probably not but if that's what people are willing to pay than why not benefit from it. Unless Australia became a socialist country and I didn't hear about it this is how capitalism works. If you don't like it catch a taxi, walk, have a friend pick you up. You don't have to use the service. Or wait until demand dies down. Probably the same wait as you'd have for a taxi, I remember one New Years waiting 5 hours for a taxi in Melbourne and that was well before uber. Guys were driving around in private cars offering cash trips home.

                Remember, we are talking about people who are drunk and possibly high, not sober individuals capable of making an informed choice. Read the article I linked to above, there are plenty of pissed off Uber customers from NYE who have ended up paying a shitload more than they thought they would.

                  So if I drive drunk and cop a huge fine I should say that I was taken advantage of as I was too drunk to make an informed decision. No sympathy for drunken fools and junkies from me.

                That's not how fair price is determined in a laissez faire economy though. There are always outliers like rich heirs and people with no calibrated sense of value who have no problem dropping a few million on a luxury sports car and then crashing it the next day. Fair price is determined by the equilibrium of market supply and demand where the maximum total revenue is produced. It's determined by the market as a whole, not the outliers.

                Uber's surge pricing isn't determined by actual demand data for events like NYE, it's determined by anticipated demand. If it adapted to actual demand there would be a prohibitive delay in getting the increased number of drivers on the road when they're needed. 8x surge pricing is over the point of equilibrium of supply and demand and results in reduced total revenue for the company.

                Add the high number of complaints about Uber's surge pricing after people got $700+ fares on a night where people are drunk and their attention (to the surge multiplier message) and decision-making abilities are hampered and the practice is exploitative at best. You mention people being willing to pay the amount but that is evidentially not the case in a sizable number of cases.

                  I can see most of your points however I don't think being inebriated and not noticing that you had to type in 8.0 to confirm you understand the surge and then complaining about it to be valid. I have no sympathy for people who drink themselves stupid. Even at 8x surge a $700+ fare sounds very rare. I drove on and off for 12 months and never had a fare over $60 non-surge which still would only have been $480 not $700+. If someone was so drunk they had unprotected sex and got an STD would you feel sorry for them in the same way? Bars, casinos etc also make millions on drunk patrons at least uber gets them home so they can stop being dumb junkies.

                  Surge pricing is done on current demand levels based on an algorithm so I don't think it works the way you say.

                  @amack888 $700 was just one example, there were quite a few complaints that hit the news the next day.

                  The price surge system is nominally based on an algorithm of cars on the road per area against demand, but Uber staff have previously confirmed there's also human input that can override the calculated surge rate, and that it has been used on known event nights like NYE before. That was in reference to the US network, granted, but I don't imagine it works much differently here.

                  Personally I think it should never go above 3-4x. Increased rates has a diminishing return on getting more drivers on the road, there are almost certainly no drivers saying '6x isn't enough but if it gets to 8x I'll jump in the car'. Uber's own data on 80% increases in drivers on the road were at low surge multipliers. It also risks running foul of price gouging and anti-profiteering legislation in different states. There's a few other potential issues Uber's system has related to collusion but I don't want to spend the whole afternoon rambling about it ;)

    Cabbies will never truly understand why people opt for Uber it seems, except for the few cabbies that also moonlight as Uber drivers haha.

      I don't understand it, either. I really don't understand why you would be so eager to hand over so much personal, private data to Google. I can hail a cab from the street, I don't have to tell the driver my name and when I pay in cash the entire trip and transaction remains completely opaque to Big Brother.

      There is a lot of data I don't mind companies like Google having but when they know where I go and when, it starts to feel like being followed by a private investigator. And they have poured billions into Uber, so Google obviously think that data is extremely valuable to their clients. Remember, you are not Google's customer, you are their product.

        I think you are under a slight misapprehension - Google Ventures (the VC part of Alphabet, the company that owns the Google I think you are alluding to) own a minority stake in Uber as an investor and in no way have "unusual" access to the data. Hailing a cab on the street is not necessarily "opaque" - you are digitally imaged and the start and end location logged. Also if you pay by card cabcharge or another provider gets details of the journey.

          You are not digitally imaged when you get in a cab. They trialed that ages ago but I think I only ever saw it in one taxi, 6 or 7 years ago, and haven't seen it since. And even if you pay by card, the only record is the time of the transaction, not the location or anything else. And whilst you can say that the money came from Google Ventures, the fact is that it is all the same company and it was Larry Page who personally brokered the deal, the largest in Google Ventures' history.

        Whether you hail a cab or use their own APP to get a cab as soon as you enter the cab you recorded by their cameras. I log the GPS cord of where they picked you up and then where they dropped you off. Regardless if you pay VIA card, cab-charge, or cash it still produces a receipt. You're not hiding from "Big Brother" and you're not being sneaky regardless about how tricky you think you're being.

          Again, you are not being recorded in taxis in Sydney so stop being paranoid. Even if you are, so what? Nobody knows who I am and if you think facial recognition actually works like it does in NCIS, you are sadly delusional. Nobody collects or collates any data at all about me when I take a taxi. None. Nada. Zip. They may get data but they have no means of tying it to me. Maybe if they got a court order but I can't see Google going to those lengths just to sell advertising, can you?

            Wow. Did you totally forget your own comment when you typed this. I don't what data they collect, let me quote yourself mate.

            I really don't understand why you would be so eager to hand over so much personal, private data to Google. I can hail a cab from the street, I don't have to tell the driver my name and when I pay in cash the entire trip and transaction remains completely opaque to Big Brother.
            -Some Other Idiot

            Have you lost your handle? You're the one thinking people are trying to steal data. I couldn't give two craps what Uber or a Taxi does with my information. You on the other hand seem to have some delusional hangups.

            And they have poured billions into Uber, so Google obviously think that data is extremely valuable to their clients. Remember, you are not Google's customer, you are their product.
            -Some Other Idiot

            You should take a breather and relax. Maybe wear some tinfoil if that makes you feel better...

        If you wear a thick enough tin-foil hat Google and Major League Baseball can't track you via their satellites.

    Taxi is far better than UberX as there are more taxis then Ubers. And if you want the comfort of Booking a taxi in advance theres services like Ingogo and Gocatch which are taxi services and they provide the same service as Uber

      Both have their pros and cons. Taxi's are not "far" better though you've got to be kidding yourself.

    Anyone else get the feeling that "Some Other Idiot" is working for whomever is handling the Taxi Lobby Social Media responses? I mean seriously, could this person be any more of an obvious stooge?! Which normal person would use the word "Consumer"?

      Yeah his posts in the article about it being legalised in NSW are even more obvious. Their were so many incorrect facts I couldn't even be bothered correcting him.

        Really? Care to point out a few? You need to understand that my problem isn't really with Uber, although I think NYE surge pricing is absolutely taking advantage of drunken idiots in a much worse way than any taxi driver could and I have a general philosophical objection to any business based on operating illegally.

        My real problem is with the NSW government, who have been happy to plunder the taxi industry for years and now they are stabbing them in the back. They should offer to buy back all the plates for the amount that was paid for them and see how many taxis would be left on the road. (Everyone would go and drive for Uber because they'd all make a lot more money.)

        For the record, my only interest in the industry is that one of my friends works about 75 hours a week driving taxis for almost no money. He would desperately love to work for Uber but because his financial situation is so dire, after 10 years as a cabbie, he cannot get finance for a car that is acceptable to them. Another friend used to own a half share in a couple of plates but sold them years ago, which is when I first became aware of how the government screws the taxi industry and started to have a little bit of sympathy for taxis and their drivers.

          You stated on the other site that uber conducts the police and car safety checks. This is not true they are done by the transport department and a 3rd party inspector so you clearly don't let not knowing the facts stop you having strong opinions therefore it would be foolish to listen to anything you say. The hardes 3 words to say are "I don't know" you should try it sometime.

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