Prices for Uber, Lyft skyrocketed during CTA shutdown

Trains are running smoothly Tuesday night after a nightmare commute in the morning.

The CTA shut down southbound trains on the Red, Brown, and Purple lines after a body was found on the tracks in Lincoln Park. The trains were stopped for hours.

Adding to the frustration, prices for Uber and Lyft went through the roof during the CTA shutdown, with some commuters paying more than six times what they expected. That’s because the unexpected demand led to a sudden shortage of drivers.

Before long, ride-share prices on the North Side were running as high as a $110 for trips downtown that typically cost $15 or less.

“It costs people a lot of money when these outages last an hour or more and today we saw a lot of people dig into their wallets and spend lots of money to get downtown. You know that's a real cost for the whole city,” said transit expert Joe Schwieterman.

The city's consumer watchdog says the ride-share companies took advantage of the situation. Schwieterman says the algorithms which ride-share companies use to match supply with demand will occasionally create these situations, which look like price gouging, but is really business as usual.

“You know, when you have an outage, prices adjust, so it matches the number of cars with the number of people that want vehicles. So it takes some time for the system to work itself out, for the price to come down. But that surge can be four or five times the normal price,” Schwieterman said.

A spokesperson for Uber told FOX 32 the company monitored the situation Tuesday morning to "get more drivers on the road to help ensure riders could get from A to B." Lyft blamed the prices on "an incredible surge" which "vastly outpaced the number of drivers on the road" - adding "The pricing occurs in order to quickly get more drivers to high demand areas."

Uber is inviting riders who have questions about the fares they paid Tuesday to reach out to the company's support team, which will take a closer look at the bill.

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