You can always tell when Uber and Lyft are surging: the cars bearing their trade dress begin racing through the streets and driving even more erratically than usual.
It’s all part of the process. As demand spikes and dynamic pricing kicks in, Uber/Lyft drivers are desperate to take advantage of the higher rates, as well as complete more rides to earn power bonuses and incentives.
Driving for Uber and Lyft is like playing a video game. The more rides you give, the more money you make. Obviously. But during peak times, rides are worth even more. Get enough of them and you can double your earnings.
During rush hour, though, you can only move so fast. So when last call rolls around, the empty streets provide a perfect opportunity for drivers to chase the surge. And that’s when things get out of control.
Wednesday looked to be a promising night for taxi driving. With Phish playing their third gig at Bill Graham and a reported 8,000 Pokemon Go enthusiasts roaming The City on a gamers bar crawl, it seemed there would be plenty of business to go around. Plus, given the numerous — often hilarious — mishaps surrounding the Pokemon Go craze, maybe some notable shenanigans along the way.
Little did I know a different kind of mischief would play out.
Around 7:30 p.m., someone managed to drive a pickup onto the BART tracks in West Oakland, shutting down the Transbay Tube for 90 minutes. How it got there was a mystery at the time. Maybe Pokemon was to blame after all?
The disruption in service at the end of the day’s rush-hour commute was an unexpected boom in business, as most taxis and Uber-Lyfts rushed to Market Street and the surrounding areas to transport the stranded East Bay-bound travelers across the Bay Bridge. This led to a vacuum in the rest of The City and created a massive flurry of rides for me…