How To Avoid Uber’s Dreaded Surge-Pricing Algorithm

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Is there anything worse than opening your Uber app and seeing the surge pricing is in effect?

The raise in price can typically put a damper on your plans – and if you have no other method of transportation, you will be paying a pretty penny for a ride that would most likely cost significantly less.

A photo posted by Jolie Tran (@always.hungray) on

Ride service apps like Uber and Lyft (though not yet available in Canada) have insisted their prices are raised based on an algorithm. In what was meant to be a positive feature, Price surging lets drivers know where demand is high, giving them the option to find another source of transportation.

Uber was under scrutiny this past weekend for raising surge pricing during the Chelsea explosion. A bomb that injured 29 people provoked many people near by to order a ride via Uber’s app, as other forms of transportation were shut down. Uber quickly caught wind of the bombing, and removed the surge pricing, but not before a lot of unhappy people noticed.

The surge pricing can, however, be avoided as long as you take a little time to plan beforehand. Here are a couple things you can do if you get that surge notification on your app, courtesy of Buzzfeed:

Wait it out
If you have a little time on your hands, try refreshing the app after waiting a bit. You never know if the surge pricing will go down significantly in the few minutes you take to wait it out and fiddle on your phone. In an interview, Christo Wilson, the lead of the Northeastern team told Buzzfeed, “Theres a 60% chance the price is not going to stay high for more than five minutes.”

Take a walk

Sometimes, doing something as little as taking a small walk to a different location could save you a ton. If you’re located at a popular address, with a lot of traffic and city-goers, the rate will most likely increase.

Download the driver apps

If you’re really desperate, you can always apply to drive for Uber, then download their driver apps. The application uses heat-map visualizations to show areas of popular demand where fares will temporarily rise.

Try the SurgeProtector App

SurgeProtector is an app that launched back in 2014. It uses Uber’s API to find locations near by with lower surge pricing.

What are some of your tips for avoiding the surge pricing charges?