Assemblyman Burgos introduces bill to stop rideshare price gouging during emergencies
Bronx Assemblyman Kenny Burgos is pushing for legislation to stop rideshare companies from price gouging during emergencies in the wake of last week's Brooklyn subway shooting.
It is common for ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft to raise prices during peak hours.
However, Burgo says when the Brooklyn subway shooting left many people without access to subways, ridesharing apps were price gouging as many were desperate for transportation.
Burgos points to several posts on social media that show inflated rates in the Sunset Park area not long after the shooting.
“People were charging hundreds of dollars sometimes for people to go home...people had no choice but to pay these exorbitant fees, and I just think it's criminal,” he says.
In response, Burgos is introducing the Stop Unreasonable Rideshare Gouging during an Emergency Act, or the SURGE Act.
Burgos says this legislation would prohibit companies from implementing surge pricing during declared federal, state and local emergencies, with a $250 fine levied for each violation. However, a state of emergency was not declared during last week's Brooklyn subway shooting.
”You have people who experienced that trauma that day, which is one tragedy in itself, but you have people in the vicinity maybe just going to work, going to school, leaving work, leaving school that are still in that area, that had to pay these surge prices,” Burgos says.
In response to last week's shooting, an Uber spokesperson told News 12, “We disabled surge in the vicinity of the incident shortly following and refunded any rider who experienced surge on any trip that started in Brooklyn from 8:30 a.m. on."
A Lyft spokesperson said in a statement, “Lyft is committed to stepping up during times of need. Last Tuesday morning, in response to the tragic shooting in Brooklyn, we suspended primetime pricing and we adjusted the fares for riders who paid primetime prices when the situation unfolded. We also worked to quickly provide assistance to thousands of riders after these tragic events. We look forward to continuing engaging with all stakeholders to strengthen our role in emergency situations."
Burgos says he intends to speak with ridesharing apps regarding this legislation in the hopes of finding something that works for everyone.
“I still think Uber and Lyft provide a service to our city and our state…and as a business model, I understand they have different scenarios where they make their money. But there shouldn't be a scenario where you capitalize on an emergency,” Burgos says.