In an attempt to battle Uber’s propensity to increase rates significantly when demand for a ride skyrockets, upstart competitor Flywheel is offering a promotional option over the New Year’s holiday for anyone living in San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego or Sacramento. For a seven hour period between 8 p.m. Wednesday night (New Year’s Eve) and 3 a.m. Thursday morning (New Year’s Day), anyone that takes a Flywheel ride will only pay a flat $10 free. Of course, this assumes the ride normally costs less than $50. After the first $50, any additional cost will be incurred by the passenger on top of the flat $10 cost.
If you aren’t familiar with Flywheel, it’s a mobile application that’s acts as a simple, easy to use platform for booking a regular taxi cab. Users can track the progress of the approaching cab within the application and have the ability to pay for the ride as well as tip the driver through the application.
All drivers have undergone a criminal background check and the taxis are commercially insured. To insure drivers will be picking up passengers for the flat rate rides over the New Year holiday period, Flywheel plans on tipping drivers 100% on every ride. Passengers can also provide tips.
During late 2013, Uber published a blog post detailing that surge pricing would occur during the holiday period. In the blog post, Uber states that the largest spike in ride cost will spike just after midnight and carry on through 2:30 a.m.
Last year, a Twitter account called @UberSurge documented some of the insane surge pricing issues during the holiday season. For instance, a 46 mile, one-hour ride in a Ford Focus cost one person $546 due to a 7x multiplier in the surge pricing algorithm. Another example included a 6.5 mile, 16 minute trip in Burbank, CA that cost someone $234 due to a 4.5X multiplier in the surge pricing algorithm.