PHOENIX — If you are headed out to take in Game 2 of the NBA Finals at the arena or even a local restaurant, you may want to double-check the cost before booking a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft.
We've seen the headlines: From New Year's Eve celebrators waking up the next morning to see they spent hundreds of dollars on a ride that normally runs $20 or $30, to a $640 bill for a 30-mile trip to the airport.
It's called surge pricing or dynamic pricing.
When demand is at its highest, rideshare services charge their highest prices. So, expect to pay top dollar if you're headed to a Suns game or anywhere close.
Uber says dynamic pricing is possible during the minutes just after the game, around the arena.
"Our goal is to ensure that riders can push a button and get a ride. With road closures and congestion expected around the venue, it may take a little longer than usual to find a ride, and we recommend that fans walk a few blocks away from the venue to request their Uber ride. Uber is investing in driver incentives to get more drivers out on the road and riders will be shown the price of their ride up front in the app before they accept a trip." - Uber Spokesperson.
You can also see how that price compares to normal rates through the Uber Fair Estimator Tool for any city.
When it comes to Lyft, they responded saying they are trying to get more drivers on the road to meet the growing demand.
“Earlier this spring, as vaccines rolled out and people started moving again, we began to see the demand for rides outpace the number of available drivers. We’ve added thousands of drivers in the past few weeks and it’s already leading to a better rider experience with wait times down more than 15% nationwide, and down 35% in some major markets. For drivers, it continues to be a great time to drive with drivers in top markets earning significantly more than they were pre-pandemic.”- Lyft Spokesperson
If you're flexible, you can cut costs.
Try getting to the game or watch party early or stick around longer after the game. You've got a better chance of avoiding peak demand times.
Lyft has a Wait and Save feature when you book a trip. You can opt for a longer wait time in order to avoid surge pricing.
Consider taking the light rail or another public transportation part of the way and then catching your rideshare. You are paying for a shorter rideshare trip and there should be less demand the further you get from the arena or restaurants.
Uber says there are no designated pick-up sites at the arena, so walking a few blocks away can make it easier for you to connect with your driver.
Is the pandemic playing a role in higher prices?
Both companies say more drivers are returning to the platform since the start of the year, but neither company provided specific numbers.