Already nervous about getting home safe on the busiest night of the year, New Year’s Eve? If you decide to forgo a traditional taxi cab, you still have myriad options to choose from. But be warned, many of these novel ride-sharing services have already issued warnings that prices will be sky-high.
Transportation services, including Lyft, SideCar and Uber, are hiking up costs to ensure that drivers will have sufficient incentive to work until the wee hours of the morning. If you’re planning to use one of these services, be aware of the costs so you won’t wake up in the morning with a raging hangover and an unexpected $200 credit card charge.
Don’t forget that in many areas, public transit typically operates later than usual to accommodate the crowds. Or if you’re in New York City, you can always go low tech and walk everywhere — that way, you’ll more easily avoid the mass confusion and hysteria that typically unfolds on New Year’s.
Don’t be surprised when you receive $200 bill for a short ride in an Uber town car. Pricing will be through the roof on New Year’s Eve, just as it was last year, to many customers’ surprise. This year, the posh ride-sharing service isn’t lowering its rates, but it is being more transparent about the costs. Uber has a pricing model in which prices surge during periods of intense demand. To avoid rankling its users, it released a blog post today warning that it’s “going to be a crazy night, and Ubers are going to be pricey.”
Expected cost: $100 or more for a short ride.
Benefits: Its predictability: You can expect a classic black sedan or SUV curbside in minutes.
Drawbacks: The price. Uber charged one user $75 for a 2-minute cab ride.
Locations: San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, San Diego, Atlanta, and Seattle. See full list here.
Lyft has not formally declared that donations will be higher on New Year’s, but to encourage drivers, it will be matching all donations paid to drivers between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. The company told the San Francisco Chronicle that it would also be hosting a party for its drivers at the company headquarters.
Expected cost: The usual donation-based fare, which is marginally cheaper than a taxi.
Benefits: Goodie bags with water and snacks for riders.
Drawbacks: Lyft isn’t guaranteeing that drivers will be working on New Years’. It won’t be easy to hail a Lyft — expect to be glued to your mobile device to snap up any moustache-bearing car that becomes available.
Locations: San Francisco.
SideCar warned users via email that suggested donations will be doubled on New Year’s. Uber can set prices (although it technically doesn’t employ its drivers), but SideCar thrives in a shared economy. Its drivers are nonprofessional, and payment is based on donations. With this announcement, SideCar is taking a leaf from Uber’s book, but I’m skeptical that drunken revelers will pay double the usual rate if they don’t have to.
Expected cost: A donation that is double the usual fare.
Benefits: It will be a darn sight cheaper than an Uber.
Drawbacks: You’ll be lucky to get a SideCar. Drivers aren’t formally employed or working on shifts, so they have less incentive to get behind the wheel on New Year’s. And with no guarantee that users will actually pay the hiked up donation, expect fewer SideCar drivers on the road.
Locations: Primarily on the West Coast.
Luxor Cabs is offering free rides within San Francisco for people heading home from bars or restaurants. Riders should remember to mention “Berg Injury Lawyers,” the program’s sponsor, and a ride that costs less than $35 will be absolutely free.