Not sure how you’re going to get to the polls tomorrow to cast your vote? Never fear, your ride is here. Uber is offering free rides tomorrow specifically for customers who want to get out and vote. The bad news: Uber doesn’t operate in any of the swing states : /
(So while those of us who don't live in Ohio or Florida will go on pretending that we're not the fat friend who may have to go to prom without a date, those of you who live in the swing states need to get your ass a ride to the polls.)
Uber has teamed up with Rock the Vote to bring you “Freedom Rides,” a one-time promotion that’s offering users free black car service for up to $20.12 (get it? 2012?). There are a few caveats, though: the service is only free to first-time Uber users, it must be redeemed via the Uber mobile app, and the ride must begin or end at a polling place (so…Uber will take you to the poll, but getting home is on you).
Still, better than nothing. The first $20.12 of the ride is free, and anything after that is charged to your card on file. Given that Uber only operates in large cities, chances are you live close enough to your polling place that you could probably walk, but to put the $20.12 fare into perspective, a trip from North Beach to Marina in San Francisco (about two miles) is $23 for a black sedan.
Existing Uber users in Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Atlanta have a chance to win a free Uber ride up to $50 by tweeting the most creative “I voted today” TwitPic.
It’s an interesting promotion given the controversy around Uber’s surge pricing in NYC in the Sandy aftermath. The company explained in an email to users that it was forced to put surge pricing into effect to get more drivers on the road. This came after one Uber user reportedly paid $219 for a 7.67 mile drive from the Upper East Side to the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn—a drive that would’ve ordinarily cost about $110 in an SUV.
Uber explained in its email that it had started out by paying drivers double to be out on the streets of NYC following Sandy while Uber customers were only being charged the normal rate, but that racked up a bill of over $100,000 in a single day, so Uber made the decision to keep Uber drivers on the road by implementing surge pricing and leaving the full cost up to the customer.
A few angry bloggers and customers have raged against Uber for the surge pricing, which does indeed look like the company is trying to profit off of a natural disaster that has killed dozens of people (the company noted in its email that it has waived all of its own fees in affected areas so that all fees paid are going directly to the drivers). But Uber isn’t the Red Cross. But still...
Car-sharing service Zipcar is also offering a half-off promotion on Election Day.