Me on CBC Radio

Self-promotion alert: around 8:30 to 9am on Monday morning I’m going to be on CBC Radio’s The Current with the admirable Anna Maria Tremonti to take part in a panel discussion about “the sharing economy”.

I’ll be the grumpy one.

On Surge Pricing

Lots of controversy about the “surge-pricing” from car-rental outfit Uber, both during a mid-December snowstorm and on New Year’s Eve. Fares increased up to eight times the normal, so that people were getting charged hundreds of dollars for short rides. The company’s response was that surge pricing is here to stay.

The argument is standard supply-and-demand, economics 101. If demand goes up, increase the price to increase supply. Or, as the company says:

With surge pricing, Uber rates increase to get more cars on the road and ensure reliability during the busiest times. When enough cars are on the road, prices go back down to normal levels.

But there are two things that I haven’t seen elsewhere (correct me if I’m wrong); not even on Matthew Yglesias’s post at Salon, and he is a magnificent observer of this and all other things.

Thing One: I really don’t care if you engage in “surge pricing” on New Year’s Eve, at rush hour, or at any other time when traffic is predictably busy. Knock yourself out, it’s absolutely fine by me. But surge pricing because of severe weather is … Continue reading