CHICAGO – As prices for ridesharing services surge, taxi cab drivers hope a new app feature will level the playing field.
Beginning Wednesday, the day of Chicagoans watching the taxi meter tick higher and higher could be over. The ride-hailing app “Curb” is introducing upfront pricing for taxi cab riders who took a serious hit with competition from rideshare services like Uber and Lyft.
“They’re used to using the app and seeing the taxi pick them up and they get in, the meter’s higher and they don’t know what they’re going to pay until they’re done,” said Jason Gross, VP of Mobile at Curb. “So by introducing upfront pricing, we’re both giving the riders the experience they expect, but allowing them to also compare prices.”
In recent months, rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft have seen wait times and prices skyrocket. Some analysts found the cost of a ride was up 40% this spring compared to a year before.
Gross said surge pricing won’t be a feature on the app.
“There’s no one times, 1.5 times, two times, five times, as I’m sure Chicagoans are seeing in the other rideshare apps,” he said. “So what you’re getting is a lot more predictability around what you’re going to pay.”
Chicago is part of a nationwide rollout of the upfront pricing feature. The company tested the option in New York. Gross said since the beginning of the year, they’ve seen a 500% increase in volume on the Curb app.
WGN reached out to Uber and Lyft about the recent surge in prices and wait times. A response was not made immediately available. A post on Lyft’s website claims, however, that new drivers have increased by 10% in May, and that wait times are down more than 15% on average nationwide.
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