Surge pricing is back in Massachusetts for companies such as Uber and Lyft — but that might not be a bad thing.
Surge pricing hasn’t been available in the commonwealth since March 10, when Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency because of a law that was passed in 2016.
The law states that “a transportation network company and driver shall not raise base fares during a federal or a governor-declared state of emergency.”
But that also means less incentive for drivers.
“We know that allowing surge pricing leads to better reliability,” said Alix Anfang, Uber spokesperson.
Uber and Lyft options have been down across the state during the pandemic. Ride share services dropped 62% in Massachusetts during pandemic with some Western Massachusetts towns seeing no rides all year.
Many of the drivers that were once working for the two companies stopped over the past year because they couldn’t rely on enough rides or tips to make it worth their time.
“We’re seeing big increases in demand for rides, as vaccines roll out and people start moving again, we’re working to meet demand, including providing incentives to drivers, who are busier and earning more than they were even before the pandemic,” said a spokesperson for Lyft.
Lyft said it has added thousands of drivers across the country recently and seen wait times down more than 15% nationwide.
“For drivers, it continues to be a great time to drive with drivers in top markets earning significantly more than they were pre-pandemic,” Lyft said.
Uber is also seeing riders in Massachusetts using its app more, so they’re working on meeting the demand.
It is using a $250 million driver stimulus to offer boosted incentives and guarantees to its drivers. The company has also reached out to drivers to let them know about the additional earnings that will be available.
“As more people are getting vaccinated and moving around, riders in Massachusetts and across the country are using the Uber app more,” Anfang asid. “As the people continue to travel, we expect to see elevated levels of surge as we continue to work to get drivers back on the road.”
Although for those that don’t want to spend the extra money for a ride, Lyft introduced Wait & Save in 2020. This option allows riders to opt for a longer wait time but pay a lower fare than a standard ride, while drivers still earn the same as a standard ride.
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