Uber -- the company that allows users to hail a car via a smartphone app -- is drastically cutting prices in several markets including Baltimore.
The price changes run as much as a 20 percent discount, but Baltimore riders will see a six percent drop. A mininum fare for Baltimore is now $4.60 down from $5.
With this cut, Uber spokeswoman Nairi Hourdajian said that uberX in Baltimore becomes up to 18 percent cheaper than a traditional taxi.
Recently, the car service has come under fire for its "surge pricing" policy, which raises car rates during periods of peak demand. The recent spate of bad weather on the East Coast, hit customers particularly hard. Surge pricing has affected Baltimore customers, doubling rates on weekends, but it has reached as high as eight times the normal rate in places like New York.
It seems "surge pricing" is here to stay after Uber CEO Travis Kalanick publicly defended the policy in a interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday. The company did not answer questions whether the price cuts were related to the criticism over surge pricing. But the new pricing represents an aggressive play to under cut traditional car services like taxis.
Uber has offered hirable sedans through an app in Baltimore since January of 2013, and has run into trouble with regulators in Maryland and other parts of the country over bans on unlicensed taxi services.
Maryland's Public Service Commission is considering whether to require Uber to become licensed. The agency's staff said in May that regulations "were not drafted with a smart phone application in mind" but "can still be reasonably applied to the companies that use these applications."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun