Karl Stefanovic has accused Uber of “gouging hardworking Aussies” after prices surged during Sydney’s train meltdown yesterday – with the rideshare company now revealing the reason for the spike in fares.
A “train communication issue” wreaked havoc on the city’s rail network yesterday afternoon, with commuters being shut-out of stations and being told that the “entire network is down”.
The shut down continued into peak hour, meaning thousands of people were left stranded at stations for hours, with bus services also becoming overwhelmed as people rushed to get home.
The shut down began just before 3pm and it wasn’t long before Uber’s prices began to surge in response to the demand.
Stefanovic slammed the “disgusting” act on Thursday morning in a fiery rant about the ride-share company.
“When the country’s largest city, the most populous, is down and out with a massive train outage, it’s people already struggling with the burden of interest rates and cost of living pressures, Uber swings into action offering all of their resources to get the city moving again,” the Today show host said.
“Just selfless stuff. Well not quite. What does Uber do? It gouges hardworking Aussies and not just little bit.”
Karl Stefanovic lashed out at Uber on Thursday morning following the crazy price surges seen in Sydney yesterday. Picture: Today/Channel 9
Karl claimed trips that would normally cost $38 surged to more than $500 yesterday during the height of the chaos.
“Are they kidding themselves?” he asked, noting an Uber spokesperson had encouraged people who thought they had been ripped off to contact Uber.
“It is disgusting what Uber did yesterday,” Stefanovic said.
@Uber shame on you!!!! Sydney trains being down is not your excuse to do this pic.twitter.com/7iTXTI1LpI
— Lala (@Lala_Tweet28) March 8, 2023
One Twitter user wrote her friend was stuck in Sydney CBD and because of such a high demand Uber drivers were quoting her $310 for a 35-minute trip home.
A fare from Kippax St in Surry Hills, to Jowyn Place in Miranda was going for $250 dollars.
$500 to Sutherland where my car is ðŸ¤¦ðŸ»
— CBS (@cbs_cbs_cbs) March 8, 2023
However, Uber has since apologised and promised customers who spent hundreds of dollars on fares they would receive a refund.
In a statement to news.com.au, an Uber spokesperson claimed the company was not informed of the train network outage by Transport for NSW as they have been in the past when issues arose.
“As soon as we became aware of what was happening, our teams immediately lowered surge that aimed to still incentivise those driver-partners who were helping Sydneysiders get home, while making rides more affordable for those stranded,” the spokesperson said.
“Surge pricing happens in real time when demand for rides exceeds the number of driver-partners online and works to attract more drivers to the area.
“In this case, we proactively reduced that surge and communicated with driver-partners to let them know about the increased rider demand and encourage them to come online and help provide a ride to those who needed one.
“This approach was communicated to Transport for NSW and the Minister’s office.”
Any rider that was charged an additional amount above the surge cap for the full duration of the outage will be auto refunded within the next 48 hours.”
Uber will be proactively communicating with impacted customers, with people also able to reach out to the company via the Uber app.
Commuters wait outside Central Station after Sydney trains ground to a halt shortly before the afternoon peak. Picture: Roni Bintang/Getty Images
The train network outage lasted just over an hour, but Sydney Trains staff were left scrambling into the early hours of the morning to get scheduled trips back up and running.
“It was a very difficult trip home from work yesterday for many of our customers and we certainly apologise for the impact that was created by a system issue,” Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said on Today on Thursday.
Sydney Trains was notified of a system-wide outage of the radio system which links trains back into the rail operations centre.
“The system should have cut over automatically so we wouldn’t have experienced these issues,” Mr Longland said.
“What happened was our engineers had to manually work through, identify the issue and resolve the issue.”
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“So we had trains waiting at platforms for about an hour leading into the evening peak period.
“The delays caused by that incident flowed through into the evening and created a really difficult trip home from work for a lot of our customers.”
Read related topics:Sydney