EL PASO, Texas - Will you be able to afford Uber the early-morning hours of New Year's Day?
Patrons looking for a ride back home are learning Uber can get expensive during so-called "surge periods."
Uber surge rates are charged as a multiplier that applies to the base, time, and distance of the trip fare. A rider in a surging area will see the surge rate before they hail an Uber driver.
"The system will let them know it's in surge, and it will tell them how many how many times the rate will be multiplied. Like, when we had the Sun City Music Festival over there at Ascarate Park, at around 2 and 3 in the morning, it was surging 7x - which is extremely expensive - seven times," Uber driver Juan Torres told ABC-7.
Lindsey Huseby and Adam Ridpath, a couple visting relatives in El Paso, went out Christmas Eve. They told ABC-7 they were very surprised when "surge pricing" gave them a $60 estimate to get home after the bars had closed.
It only got worse. "Once we saw how much it was, we said, 'well, let's wait about 20 minutes to see if it goes down,' and then it increased to $80," Huseby said.
Huseby and her fiancé say the trip is normally about $15.
"It was only about a five mile drive. So we ended up calling an El Paso taxi and everything turned out to be $20 even," Ridpath said. "Just because Uber got really popular overnight doesn't mean that we should forget about other options."
According to Uber's website, "during times of high demand for rides, fares may increase to make sure those who need a ride can get one. For riders, surge helps ensure that pickup is available quickly and reliably. For driver-partners, surge means higher fares and a steady stream of ride requests."
Even then, a Downtown El Paso bartender reminds her patrons Uber and taxis aren't the only options. "Have a designated driver or have somebody pick you up," said Mariana Cordero.
For many, the last suggestion is one they prefer, especially for their wallets. "I feel that my family and friends are more reliable than Uber. Also, you know, it's free," said Theodore Ayoub, a bar patron.
The video player below contains Uber-related stories from around the U.S.