By Christine Clarridge / The Seattle Times
SEATTLE — People trying to get out of downtown Seattle after a mass shooting Wednesday evening at Third Avenue and Pine Street were livid to see the price of hailing a ride from Lyft or Uber.
“Hey @lyft @AskLyft,” wrote Twitter user Nan (@dedizenoflight), who at 6:12 p.m. posted a picture of a Lyft ride that would have cost $103.61, “you wanna know what the appropriate reaction to a shooting in Seattle is? NOT (expletive) THIS.”
The shooting, which killed one person and wounded seven others, drew a heavy response from police, fire and medics. A block was taped off, and King County Metro Transit buses in the area were rerouted and were far behind schedule. Demand for transportation out of the city was higher than it may have been during a typical Wednesday evening rush hour.
The price of a Lyft or Uber ride depended on where people were going. At 6 p.m., an Uber Pool from South Lake Union to Sodo cost $24, an Uber Pool from South Lake Union to Wallingford cost $28, and a Lyft from Westlake to Capitol Hill cost $37. But some customers on social media, like Nan, reported being quoted prices north of $100.
Lyft did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Uber said the company implemented a cap surge within a mile radius of downtown (at Third Avenue and Pike Street) around 6 p.m. at a rate of 1x — meaning normal prices. A cap surge prevents the algorithm from automatically adjusting prices based on demand.
Uber has a loose policy to implement cap surges during emergencies that affect public safety and when circumstances warrant it, according to the company’s website. When those occur, Uber teams assess the situation and cap surge pricing in the area, the site says.
Reports on social media showed that people who chose to share a ride had less expensive fares, as is usually the case with ride-hailing apps. And some acknowledged that the shootings happened during evening rush hour, when prices are normally higher.
In 2017, Uber was criticized for eliminating surge pricing during the protests at JFK airport in New York in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. That same year, Uber was criticized for being too slow to turn off surge pricing during a terror attack in London.