Ride share services issue refunds for high ‘surge’ fares paid during CTA shutdown

CHICAGO — Uber and Lyft are issuing refunds to passengers who paid high surge prices when a portion of the CTA was shut down during Tuesday’s morning rush, according to company representatives.

The body of a man believed to be in his 40’s was found on the L tracks south of Fullerton around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, and the Red, Brown, and Purple lines were shut down in both directions near the stop as emergency crews and police were on the scene. Thousands of commuters were left looking for alternatives, and many turned to ride share apps like Uber and Lyft.

The resulting surge in demand led to a spike in the cost of rides due to surge pricing, which the companies say is meant to get more drivers on the roads during busy periods. Some rides cost as much as five times the normal fare, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Trains experienced delays for hours after the incident. Officials said the man’s death was likely a suicide.

The City of Chicago’s Office of Consumer Affairs later called out Uber and Lyft for raising their prices during an emergency. A spokesperson said even though the companies didn’t do anything illegal, it was unfortunate they took advantage of the situation.

Lyft initially blamed the prices on an “incredible surge” of demand, but on Thursday a spokesperson confirmed they are refunding passengers who experienced higher than normal prices “as a result of this tragic incident.”

“We encourage anyone who experienced a higher price who has not already received a refund to contact us immediately,” they said.

A spokesperson for Uber said Thursday they are also issuing refunds.

“While we took steps to help mitigate the impact on commuters as soon as we learned of the CTA stoppage, we have issued refunds to riders who experienced higher-than-average prices in the affected areas,” they said.

The representative with Lyft said any customers who have not received a refund should contact them.

Both companies have contact forms on their websites and in the apps, and Uber’s customer service number is 800-353-8237, while Lyft’s customer service number is 855-865-9553.