Lyft accused of price gouging after rides out of Tahoe cost $1,300 amid wildfire evacuations

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Lyft accused of price gouging after rides out of Tahoe cost $1,300 amid wildfire evacuations

As the Caldor Fire heads more rapidly into South Lake Tahoe, a large majority of residents have already fled out of the area into evacuation centers, spare bedrooms and other safe havens.Meanwhile, the San Francisco-based ride-hailing app Lyft was accused Tuesday morning of price gouging as the last of the evacuees flood out of Tahoe.A Lyft from the popular Heavenly Valley Lodge to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport showed a fare price between $1,300 to $1,500 for an “XL” vehicle Tuesday morning — a minivan or SUV that has the capacity to sit at least five other passengers. Typically, that ride is estimated to cost up to $200 for an “XL” vehicle, according to Lyft’s own estimate prices.As of noon Tuesday, the price had stabilized to a more reasonable $230 for an XL. A spokesperson for Lyft explained the substantial markup as a conflict between state laws. Nevada has policies in place to prevent drastic markups; California doesn’t, the spokesperson explained. Lyft turned off its surge pricing function in the area later Tuesday morning, he confirmed.A ride out of Tahoe from competitor Uber still would cost about a couple hundred dollars, according to the app, but no rides are available. An Uber spokesperson told SFGATE that service is still available, but that no drivers are available likely because “drivers are choosing not to drive on the platform, perhaps due to safety reasons or they may be part of the expanded wildfire evacuation order themselves.”As photos of residents waiting at evacuation stops continue to spread on social media, it’s clear that not all South Lake Tahoe residents have the means to escape with their own vehicles — forcing them to turn to third-party services for expedient evacuations.

As the Caldor Fire heads more rapidly into South Lake Tahoe, a large majority of residents have already fled out of the area into evacuation centers, spare bedrooms and other safe havens.

Meanwhile, the San Francisco-based ride-hailing app Lyft was accused Tuesday morning of price gouging as the last of the evacuees flood out of Tahoe.

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A Lyft from the popular Heavenly Valley Lodge to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport showed a fare price between $1,300 to $1,500 for an “XL” vehicle Tuesday morning — a minivan or SUV that has the capacity to sit at least five other passengers. Typically, that ride is estimated to cost up to $200 for an “XL” vehicle, according to Lyft’s own estimate prices.

As of noon Tuesday, the price had stabilized to a more reasonable $230 for an XL.

A spokesperson for Lyft explained the substantial markup as a conflict between state laws.

Nevada has policies in place to prevent drastic markups; California doesn’t, the spokesperson explained. Lyft turned off its surge pricing function in the area later Tuesday morning, he confirmed.

A ride out of Tahoe from competitor Uber still would cost about a couple hundred dollars, according to the app, but no rides are available. An Uber spokesperson told SFGATE that service is still available, but that no drivers are available likely because “drivers are choosing not to drive on the platform, perhaps due to safety reasons or they may be part of the expanded wildfire evacuation order themselves.”

As photos of residents waiting at evacuation stops continue to spread on social media, it’s clear that not all South Lake Tahoe residents have the means to escape with their own vehicles — forcing them to turn to third-party services for expedient evacuations.

Contributed by local news sources

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