Uber neighborhood pricing surge charges Marina most

Screen capture of a "surge pricing" announcement from Uber to its drivers.

Uber charges the Marina and Pacific Heights districts up to three times as much for a ride as the rest of the city in its new “neighborhood surge” program, according to leaked emails and screen captures. 

The surges happen during rush hour, weekend night bar crawls, and also around concerts and other events that would draw riders to Uber’s app. 

Uber has caught a lot of flak for its New Year’s Eve “surge pricing,” a practice where the company raised rates during peak hours. Hell, it even looks like they’ve been raising rates when it rains. Just last month the Wall Street Journal reported that Uber would spike rates in neighborhoods of cities with the most demand, a practice called geo-surging.

The rates seem to go at least as high as $4 per mile in surge times, drivers told us, while SF taxis generally charge about $2.25 per mile. 


A driver sent a screenshot of a 9am morning surge. This particular morning the Richmond and Mission districts seemed to get a spike in pricing as well.

“If they’re upset about the price they accepted, that’s a different conversation than, say, a driver took a wrong turn,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told the Wall Street Journal, about neighborhood pricing in general. “The price must go up for these rides to happen. If surge pricing doesn’t happening, there’s no availability. You can’t get a ride.”

We emailed Uber but did not get a response.

In San Francisco, that demand is apparently highest in the Marina. In the leaked emails, Uber wrote to drivers to explain its reasoning behind the neighborhood pricing:

“Instead of rates being the same everywhere in SF, surge rates will be higher in busier parts of the city. 

Typically, the most demand comes from the Marina (and surge pricing is the highest), with some demand in the Mission neighborhood. 

We’re excited about this change, since this means surge pricing will happen in the areas that need it most.”

A look at their “typical morning rush hour surge pattern” has Uber labeling the Marina “high surge,” the Mission “low surge” and no mention for the rest of the city. Maybe the Outer Sunset and Excelsior folks just don’t use Uber? (Or maybe they’re bigger fans of pink mustaches.)

After we obtained the emails, we verified them with Uber driver Zach Hudson, who’s employed with a private limo company but uses the Uber app to find his riders. 

“The morning rush is in the Marina,” he said. “It’ll be near up to three times the normal rate. I don’t think there’s a limit. But near New Year’s Eve it’s been known to go up to 500 percent.”


In this screencap of an Uber email, the company advises goign to the "outer" neighborhoods. From the context of the rest of the email, it seems "outer" is anywhere not downtown. 

Uber seems to want to lure more drivers to in-demand areas, but it’s not a total loss for the western and southern neighborhoods, Hudson said. 

 “The avenues are pretty dead most of the time,” he explained. 

And besides, can’t the Marina dwellers afford it? Though the surge pricing may not be great for consumers, Hudson said it was good for drivers.

"After Uber cut fares and essentially our commission by 20 percemt, surge pricing is the only way we can survive," he said.



If you want to wait for a cab that may come or likely not then call a cab company.

Posted by guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

it most likely comes these days !

Posted by Guest wolf on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 7:05 pm

then don't use Uber during those brief periods when they impose it. That's the beauty of a free marketplace - no one forces you to use any service or product if you don't want too. The last time I opened Uber they informed me surge pricing was in effect and I took a cab instead.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 5:59 pm

If you're a Marina or Pacific Heights dweller, then you can pay more. Charge them through the nose, I say.

It's the whole "not having insurance is cool" thing that I have a problem with. That, and stealing drivers' tips, and violating independent contractor laws, and all the accidents...

Charging Ed Lee's base voters more than the rest of the city is the least of their sins. That's just standard capitalism.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

Mentioning Ed Lee, as if the mayor has the power to prohibit any business he wants, even if it's complying with state regulations. And showing us all that the progressive vision of the "city family" now excludes those presumed to have suspect political loyalties.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 7:47 pm

Greg, don't you live in Noe Valley?

Posted by Pol Potty-Mouth on Feb. 06, 2014 @ 9:06 pm

You leave my Greggy alone! He's a good boy!

Posted by Greg's Mom on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 6:57 am

He's saving up, so he can move to Caracas.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 10:53 am

He just likes to fantasize about it because he hates himself and his life.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 11:55 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 7:46 am

Fuck with the majesty of the market at your own peril!

Posted by marcos on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 7:52 am

That's why he is bitter and resentful and envious.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 9:38 am
Posted by Becky Bayside on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 12:20 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 12:27 pm

Uber will soon find out what the sharing economy really means. They're going to have to share with the drivers they've been stealing tips from, and they'll have to share with the victims of their accidents. By the time the courts get done with them they'll be lucky if they have anything left to share.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 10:48 pm

What "stealing"? If the drivers don't like their compensation arrangement, then they can go back to the cab companies or anywhere else they want.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 5:13 pm

If he cannot tac and regulate something to death, he's against it.

But the sharing economy will be around long after his hippie liberal boomer anti-American co-hating ass is rotting sic feet under.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 5:53 pm

"If the drivers don't like their compensation arrangement, then they can go back to the cab companies or anywhere else they want. "

Or they can just sue, which they are doing.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 09, 2014 @ 12:48 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 09, 2014 @ 7:57 am

The purpose of litigation isn't to create instant gratification for you. It's to remedy injustice by unscrupulous actors, which these gypsy cab companies clearly are.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 09, 2014 @ 8:54 am


I notice you still haven't confirmed that you always ask friends and family if they have insurance before you get in their vehicle

Posted by Guest on Feb. 09, 2014 @ 11:36 am

If I what is printed is true:

The CEO is a standout jerk who epitomizes the tech stereotype.

They send pretty girls to try to entice drivers for other car-services to drive for Uber.

As a company policy, they would call other companies to schedule rides for nonexistent passengers just so they could indirectly mess with the other company by directly screwing the drivers out of fares.

Speaking of which, according to their own drivers, they screw their employees in like six different ways financially and will leave them in the lurch if there's an accident.

I had one driver who was so clearly out of his head on meth that he ran multiple stop lights. It was as scary as riding in a cab.

According to the map above, they are even encouraging their drivers to leave some areas of town to go passenger trolling in high yield areas - essentially conning their drivers into competing against each other for a limited number of passengers.

I'm sure I'm missing some stuff but geez. Either Lyft hired a mud-slinger to get these stories in print or Uber is vying to claim the title of slimiest company in the Bay Area (Ellison's gonna be pissed).

It's a cool idea and a convenient service but I try to not work or play with total assholes so I'm thinking I'll try someone else. I mean, I won't go back to taxis but I will try one of the other services.

Posted by Becky Bayside on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 12:33 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 12:55 pm

When a company admits freely that they've done many things of questionable ethics, I tend to believe that they have a culture of questionable ethics. But maybe I'm too trusting of them given their admittedly questionable ethics. Uh oh. This could go round and round...

Posted by Becky Bayside on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 12:59 pm

For me, the idea of getting into any unregulated car where the driver has no insurance and no background check holds little appeal.

btw... love your stuff. Rarely agree, but you're one of the most well-reasoned anti-progressive writers out there.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 8:34 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

If that same driver were to work for a real taxi company, he would. Big difference.

Also, we really don't know if it's the same driver. Uber's screening policies are more lax. All drivers who can pass the screening for real taxi companies *can* work for Uber, but not all Uber drivers would pass a background check to work for a real cab company.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 3:02 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 3:35 pm

IOW, a friend who regularly gives you a ride tells you he part-times for Uber.

Is he suddenly a bigger risk to you?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 4:51 pm

This has been covered by another poster in another thread. Bringing up the same falsehoods is just trolling. But really briefly, I'll explain it again. If I get into a car with a "friend," his ordinary car insurance will cover me in the event of an accident. But if that "friend" is using his car as a business, and I'm not in his car as his "friend" but as his customer, his insurance will not. He needs commercial insurance, which these drivers don't have. Only real cabs have the kind of insurance that will pay in the event of an accident while engaged in this business.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 09, 2014 @ 12:54 am

You don't check with your friend to see if he has insurance. That would be rude. You just get in his car.

So what's the difference? Either way, there may be no insurance.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 09, 2014 @ 7:58 am

enough not to have insurance, then I wouldn't get in the car with him. I trust my friends not to put me in that situation. Some dude off the street who hasn't gone through a proper background check -not so much. In the case of these ride"sharing"-for-cash businesses, it's almost certain that they don't have the kind of insurance that would cover me if I get hurt.

By the way, it's not "sharing" if you have to pay.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 09, 2014 @ 8:47 am

Surge pricing! It's an outrage.

Oh, and those happy hour deals and senior meal deals? Surge pricing. It's all wrong.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

I don't have a problem with real-time pricing but encouraging drivers to flee downtown for a single high-profit area is slimy.

By the way, our electeds already dealt with Happy Meals. Don't tempt them into going after senior meals.

Posted by Becky Bayside on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

That sounds like a winning mission.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 3:22 pm

Marina is far from where they get fares, downtown.
Of course they have to offer more money to go to a
location where they have to deadhead back downtown.
This is stupid and hating on a car company is showing how
desperate you people really are.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 1:31 pm

I am happy to see that the SFBG is taking this important stand against congestion pricing. I hope their allies at CTA/MTA take note.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2014 @ 5:05 pm

Congestion is a generalized charge that has a proven concrete public benefit of speeding transit.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 9:04 am

But yes, let's ban earlybird dinner deals for seniors.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

This is a non story. prices go up when there is a shortage. And suppliers go where there is more money to be made. Sounds totally new and alien.

Posted by Dani on Feb. 09, 2014 @ 11:41 pm

¤ Fascinating map. Notice how the region with the most intense use is where the Muni A, B, C, and D streetcar lines used to run. But hey, let's dither about putting slightly-improved bus service along the Geary corridor for another decade. We can get the plebes to run down their own cars (spewing carbon a-plenty) and call it "sharing." Because apps.

Posted by Jym on Feb. 10, 2014 @ 8:09 am

We're just in the early stages though. Imagine electric driverless cars available on demand. And of course never a parking problem.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 10, 2014 @ 8:46 am

@Guest - Uh-huh, sure it would. We must converge sharewashing with greenwashing for maximum distraction.

Posted by Jym on Feb. 10, 2014 @ 9:06 am

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