Uber Offers Cheaper Rides During Taxi Protests, Sparking Liberal Outrage

Zach Montanaro | January 31, 2017
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When New York taxi drivers refused to pick up passengers at JFK International Airport for an hour in protest of President Trump’s recent executive order, Uber continued to run and even dropped their surge pricing at the airport.

This made liberals furious.

The hashtag #DeleteUber soon started to trend on Saturday after Uber tweeted that it had removed the surge pricing about half an hour after the protests had started. Angry critics started accusing Uber of everything from trying to profit off the protests, to trying to break up the protests altogether.



For those who don’t know, surge pricing is something that Uber and other services like it use to incentivize their drivers to go into areas where there is high demand by customers. The slightly higher prices mean more money for the drivers. Since areas like airports are often in higher demand for services like Uber, surge pricing helps to make sure that there are plenty of drivers there to meet that demand.

This means that by turning off the surge prices at JFK Airport, riders could get a cheaper ride than normal, but also that there could be less drivers willing to be there. At least, that’s all in theory.

That bit of economic sense was lost on liberals expressing their anger online, and Uber was forced to send out a statement a few hours later. “We’re sorry for any confusion about our earlier tweet—it was not meant to break up any strike,” the statement from Uber said. “We wanted people to know they could use Uber to get to and from JFK at normal prices, especially tonight.”

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick also released a statement, expressing concern that the order could affect “many innocent people” at the company, and that “thousands” of Uber drivers come from the countries listed in the executive order, many of whom “take long breaks to go back home to see their extended family.”

Kalanick promised to raise the issue with Trump during a meeting of the President’s economic advisory group, of which Kalanick is a member.

That, of course, did nothing to sway the liberals who were already mad at Uber, many of whom went to express their negative opinions in Uber’s tweets and Facebook posts, and others downright threatening to delete Uber altogether and instead use Lyft, their competitor.

It’s worth noting, however, that Lyft continued to work throughout the strike as well. In fact, Lyft also kept the surge pricing on during the strike, which could theoretically mean that there were more Lyft drivers at the airport than Uber drivers.

Of course, none of this internet anger is directed towards the taxi drivers who simply decided to not work for an hour at one of the nation’s busiest airports. Nor is there any coverage about how protestors reportedly blocked traffic at some airports and kept people stuck and unable to reach their flights or leave.



No, instead we must be angry at a company that both offered a cheaper ride to passengers, and seemingly a way out for drivers who wanted to join the protest by not incentivizing them to go to the airport at all.

If people want to vote with their wallets, it’s perfectly within their rights to do so. All I know is that I’m going to stick with a company that actually continues to operate instead of simply shutting itself down for an hour.

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