Sydney cafe siege: Uber offers free rides after price rise triggers angry criticism

 
Joe Hall
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Uber fares hit a minimum $100 due to the app's surge pricing algorithm. (Source: Getty)
Taxi firm Uber is offering customers in Sydney free rides out of the city’s central business district, where at least one gunman is currently holding a group of people hostage in a cafe.
Uber had initially come in for criticism after its price for rides in the area surged to a minimum $100 as people looked to evacuate the area when news of the siege at a Lindt chocolate cafe/shop emerged.
The company initially posted on Twitter that “fares have increased to encourage more drivers to come online & pick up passengers in the area”, before announcing about an hour later that it would be offering rides for free.
In a statement it added that it would be refunding rides paid during hours when the price surged.
Uber’s pricing is based on an algorithm that sends prices higher whenever demand rapidly increases in an area.
A zone surrounding Martin Place in Sydney’s business district has been cordoned off as police work on the hostage situation at a Lindt chocolate cafe/shop. So far, five people are known to have got out of the under-siege building.
Uber’s public image has taken something of a battering in recent months; the taxi-app service has been banned in a number of countries and cities, while the company has become embroiled in a number of PR storms.

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