As the capital’s Underground system ground to a halt today, taxi firm Uber has been accused of reaping the rewards of commuter misery.
During peak travel times during the London Tube strike on Monday morning, some travelers were informed that fares had risen by 4.5times the normal amount.
The app, which connects drivers with passengers directly instead of through a centralised booking service or just hailing a car in the street, uses a pricing algorithm which detects situations of high demand and low supply and hikes the price in increments.
Zero T tweeted: “Just got charged £111 by Uber to travel 5 miles, from zone 2 to zone 1… luckily I’m not paying, but how is that OK? Tube strike or not!”
Jonathan S complained: “So Uber charged my girlfriend £75 (St John’s Wood – Canary Wharf) this am as she couldn’t use the Jubilee Line due to the Tube Strike. Price gouging much?”
Paul Bristow opined: “Don’t know who I think less of – the RMT Union for causing this commuter misery or Uber for cashing in with 4.5x surge pricing.”
Uber is often called out for its pricing structure when other transport methods fail.
In 2014 it was condemned for putting up prices in Sydney during a hostage situation, which saw a gunman take over a cafe in the city centre.
Uber is a controversial body in Britain and has faced much opposition from the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, which has repeatedly called on TfL to place the same restrictions on it as it enforces on the capital’s black cabs.
A spokesman for Uber said: “Uber uses dynamic pricing to ensure that people can always book a car when they need it. The fare increases automatically, and only in response to real-time demand when there are not enough available cars.
“As all of the licensed driver who use the Uber app work independently, higher fares incentivise more drivers to go online so we can help more people get where they need to go. Without this pricing model there would simply be no cars available.”