The New Year rings up rideshare prices
COLUMBIA-- Ridesharing and taxi services cite New Years Eve as one of the busiest nights of the year, and some companies use it to their advantage.
5 Star Taxi is one of the cheapest taxi services available in Columbia, charging a $2.50 flat rate and around $3.00 per mile. Owner and founder Izzaldin Mustafa said that unlike other ride services during the holiday, his rates remain the same.
"We don't change prices on our customers just because there's an increase in demand," Mustafa said. "Our rates are the same and fixed the whole year."
Like many other services in Columbia 5 Star Taxi is regulated by the city for its standard fare prices. This means that if the owner fluctuated the prices they could face a penalty.
However the ridesharing service Uber is not regulated through the city, leaving it up to the service to determine its prices, which normally are inflated when demand is high.
Terry Nickerson, the president of Taxi Terry's, said that his service offers the same rate as it does everyday unless the customer is going out of town from 12-2AM. If this is the case, the drivers will charge a small fee to compensate for extra time.
"If you just want to be picked up from the bar tonight and go back home, it'll be the same price that it cost you to go downtown," Nickerson said.
Nickerson said that anytime there is a special event Uber inflates its prices to sometimes quadruple the amount of its regular rates.
In the past Uber rates have been highest between 12:15-3:00AM. If a customer was taking a 4 mile drive into downtown Columbia, the fare would be between $13-$17. However, if Uber was taken during the surge pricing, the same ride could cost around $52-$68 or more.
Uber explains its surge pricing on its website by stating that it does so "to ensure reliability when demand cannot be met by the number of drivers on the road." It also says that customers can see on the notification screen in the app whenever there is surge pricing and must accept the higher rates before being connected to a driver.
Regardless of rates, most taxi services agree the most important part of the ride is to get the customer home safely and in a timely manner.