VIDEO: Uber slashes rides to $2.75 for final weekends of L train closure

May 8, 2015 By Dipti Kumar Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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In April, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on the L train closures between Eighth Avenue in Manhattan and Lorimer Street in Williamsburg. The five-week closure is now in its final week, and we checked in with local businesses to see how they have been coping.

Lexi Oliveri, who owns the fashion boutique Antoinette on Grand Street in Williamsburg, said business “hasn’t been as bad as I expected,” especially since alternate transportation was arranged by East River Ferry and Uber.

Uber, the popular cab service that had been offering riders a $5 fare to get to any point on the L line during the closures, slashed its rates to $2.75 for the last two weekends of the work.

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At a press conference in Williamsburg on Friday, City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso of the 34th District commended Uber for its initiative to assist “residents [to] move around comfortably, reliably and ensure that the businesses can continue to make money along the L line.”

Uberpool, a service offered by Uber, “automatically matches riders who are taking trips to and from similar areas,” explained Josh Mohrer, Uber general manager of New York City. “Our goal is to take 1 million cars off the road in New York City,” Mohrer said at the conference.

Despite Uber’s efforts, Oliveri noted that a few blocks away, a local bar was feeling the pinch of the weekend closures.

“I spoke to a bartender last night who tends at a normally pretty busy bar on North 8th and Berry, and he said business has been terrible on weekends,” said Oliveri.

For Bernadette Libonate, who operates Milly & Earl in Williamsburg, business has been steady — which she attributes to Mother’s Day weekend. Still, Libonate noted that people have been discouraged from visiting her store and the neighborhood via alternate transportation services like Uber, which are proving to be pricey because of the “constant surge in price.”  

Mohrer assured riders that there will be “no surge in the $2.75 ride” and while the service works best for shared rides, if a match isn’t found, a rider won’t need to pay extra.

“The good thing is that riders get to save more money, and the drivers get to make more,” said Irvin Vera, Uber driver partner who has been working with the company since January this year.


Make it on Your Own

Another business, Slapback, a women’s clothing store located steps away from Metropolitan Avenue, is owned and operated by Renee DiDio. She says she too experienced a lull in business from the weekend closures.

DiDio said during the second weekend, business was so “dreadful” she “almost questioned why I opened.”

But she decided she had to bounce back and organized a weekend “Pin Up” class, teaching a group of women about makeup, hair and clothing on the following weekend.

“Saturday, when I came to the shop with the girls, we were at $291 for the day. Dismal, [but] it shot up to $2,000 in an hour due to the girls shopping. The event we had was great due to the designer and promotion,” said DiDio.

The MTA maintains that the work on the L train must be completed, and all pending work will be done by Memorial Day, according to head spokesman Adam Lisberg.

The MTA has also provided “free MetroCard transfers” for riders taking the trains “from the Broadway G stop to the Lorimer Street stops on J and M lines,” according to an official statement.

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