Uber, Lyft Under Fire for Exploiting Panicked New Yorkers, Surging Prices in the Aftermath of Brooklyn Subway Attack

Rideshare services Lyft and Uber have caused an uproar on social media after users posted screenshots of showing them charging surge prices near the site of the subway shooting in Brooklyn.

On Tuesday, 10 people were shot after suspect Frank James opened two smoke cannisters and fired 33 shots aboard the Manhattan-bound N train as it pulled into the 36th Street station in Sunset Park, critically injuring five commuters and injuring several others, as previously reported. The gunman fled the scene following the attack, prompting panicked New Yorkers to scramble to safety as the train pulled into the subway station.

'People Are Scared, Let Them Get Out Safely'

Brooklyn subway shooting
Commuters seen rushing out of the train in the wake of the shooting (left) and a screenshot shared by one of the social media users showing Uber charging surge prices immediately after the attack. Twitter

Immediately after the attack, social media users noticed Uber and Lyft surging prices for rides in the area based off demand and posted screenshots of the soaring charges.

"People are scared, let them get out safety," one person wrote on Twitter, calling on Uber to suspend its practice of charging higher prices in periods of strong demand, along with a screenshot of a $68.49 ride from Sunset Park to Long Island City in Queens around the same time.

"Fare increased 10x by @Uberafter a Terrorist Attack in a Subway Of Brooklyn,New York. What a Shame," another user captioned a screenshot of Uber offering an $85.05 ride to Manhattan.

A Brooklyn Lyft rider, meanwhile, shared a screenshot earlier Tuesday of a $69.85 fare with a "limited availability" warning. "Didn't see anything about 'Shooting Surge Pricing" in @Lyft terms of use," the user tweeted.

Lyft, Uber Release Statement, to Issue Refunds to Customers

Lyft and Uber announced on Tuesday that they paused surge pricing for rides near the Brooklyn subway station and would refund surge fees charged to customers.

In a statement, Freddi Goldstein, a spokeswoman for Uber, said the company would also freeze prices for rides all over New York City, although it was not immediately clear what amount rides were being capped at.

Katie Kim, a spokeswoman for Lyft, also said in a statement that Lyft would refund riders for surge fees charged at the time of the incident.

"Our hearts go out to the victims of this morning's terrible shooting in Sunset Park," Goldstein said, before adding. "If anyone on our platform experienced unintended charges during this emergency, we will work to get them refunded."

This isn't the first time Uber and Lyft have been accused of upping prices after a tragedy. Following a 2017 blast near the Port Authority in Midtown Manhattan, both apps coughed up refunds to riders who said they had been charged exorbitant fares as they tried to flee the scene.