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15 Dec, 2014 06:44

​Uber hikes Sydney prices amid hostage crisis, offers free rides after outcry

​Uber hikes Sydney prices amid hostage crisis, offers free rides after outcry

A red-faced ridesharing service Uber is offering free rides to commuters in Sydney after sparking public anger online by raising its prices in Australia’s largest city due to the developing hostage crisis in the central business district (CBD).

READ MORE: Gunman takes hostages in Sydney cafe, displays black ‘jihadist’ flag

The fast-growing enterprise demonstrated what one Twitter user called being “tone deaf” in its response to the hostage situation at the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place, where a gunman is holding over 20 people.


The crisis prompted people working in Sydney’s central business district (CBD) to flee en masse, and Uber acted by raising tariffs for its services under its “price surging” policy. The prices surged indeed, with spikes up to four times the usual fares, according to a Mashable report.

The company justified the move by the need to attract additional drivers to CBD, but many uses saw it as an attempt to profiteer from the crisis.

tone deaf. rt @Uber_Sydney: We are all concerned with events in CBD. Fares have increased to encourage more drivers to come online..

— dan!sh (@danishism) December 15, 2014

And I'm now officially done with @Uber, which is price gouging during AU hostage crisis. What sad sorry clowns. http://t.co/OTwTz3E8UM

— Seth Mnookin (@sethmnookin) December 15, 2014

Facing the lash-out, Uber posted an update, saying it would be covering the costs of the rides out of the CBD (but no more than one trip per person) and would refund those who had already paid.

Uber rides out of the CBD today are free for all riders to help Sydneysiders get home safely. See http://t.co/UIwoom25Bm for more info.

— Uber Sydney (@Uber_Sydney) December 15, 2014