Avoid the surge and get home safe on New Year's Eve

An ABC7 I-Team Report
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Rideshare pricing can skyrocket and cabs are difficult to flag down on New Year's, but there are free options for revelers.

You want to go home after ringing in the New Year, but so does everyone else. If you can't get a cab you may end up paying double or more to get home in an Uber, if surge pricing is in effect during peak hours.

"With the surge pricing you can still get an Uber but it is usually four or five times the surge price so it is just going to cost a lot more to get home," says Peter Grimmer.

One Uber driver told the I-Team how he's planning on cashing in tonight. He described what a typical surge ride from River North to Lakeview would be.

"Usually it would be $15 to $10, but with surge pricing it is like $70 to $80 sometimes depending on if it is times three or times five," says Irineo Bolusan.

Uber says it expects the greatest demand and highest prices from 12:30am to 2:30am.

"Well definitely have to get an Uber at a more off time as opposed to go out when everybody else is an hour earlier, an hour later that will be a challenge tonight," says Robert Gatto.

If you request during the surge you'll be warned and asked enter the surge quote you've agreed to. You can also set up an alert to let you know when prices are back to normal.

You can also use Uber Pool to save. That pairs you with strangers going the same direction. Lyft has a similar option.

Lyft tells the I-Team that its prime time pricing will remain capped at 200 percent, adding, "We never price gouge our passengers."

The CTA and Miller Lite are offering free bus and train rides from 10 pm until 4 am.

And there's the Safe Ride Home Program in Orland Park, Tinley Park, Palos Heights, Mokena and New Lenox.

You can get free rides by calling a limo service at 708-349-7700 and mentioning the program name.

In Palos Park, the police chief is encouraging drinkers tonight to call the police department or call his cell phone directly for a free ride home! Anyone who needs a ride should call the police station at (708) 448-2191. Officers will drive them home, no questions asked.

Uber has published a ride guide for using the service on New Year's Eve.

Tips include checking the price, splitting your fare, confirming your driver and keeping your number masked.
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