Just How High Was Uber’s DNC Demand?

The ridesharing company released numbers on its prolific week.

Uber app display during DNC in Philadelphia. | Photo by Fabiola Cineas

Uber app display during DNC in Philadelphia. | Photo by Fabiola Cineas

Uber released data on Wednesday that shows just how well it says it performed during the DNC in Philadelphia last week.

According to the ridesharing pioneer, more than one in four convention goers used the app, and on average, more than 5,000 unique riders took an Uber ride to or from the Wells Fargo Center. The information from the company doesn’t include whether riders were more likely to opt for a private ride with UberX or a carpooling experience with UberPool.

But what’s even more mind-boggling is the kind of demand the company reported during peak times: 25 trips per minute, the company highlighted in the report. Between 11:45 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. Thursday night, the final evening of the convention, there was a peak of 25 trips per minute beginning at the Uber Rider Lounge and the area next to the Wells Fargo Center.

And the company also says that a low percentage of trips departing the convention site were subject to surge pricing. Seven percent of the of trips departing the Wells Fargo arena surged due to “investments in driver communications and incentives.”

Last week several Uber drivers told me that, per Uber’s request, they came in from areas like Delaware and Northern New Jersey and incentives included a guarantee of more money for working during busier times.

Despite massive crowds, tight security, and single-lane traffic in and out of the convention site, the average time to pick-up following a ride request from the Uber Rider Lounge was just 9 minutes, according to the report.

To average only 9 minutes, Uber must’ve really made some changes after the deluge of complaints from customers at the beginning of the week regarding hours-long waits for cars. Some customers were even relieved to have gotten on SEPTA after the wait-time they experienced with Uber.

Last week we wondered if the DNC was a victory for ridesharing, and it’s clear that Uber thinks so.

“A record-breaking number of visitors relied on Uber last week for easy, affordable rides at the push of a button,” their statement said. The numbers reported by the company suggest there was high demand for their services, but what’s not clear is whether customers were actually choosing them or simply had no other options.

Uber was named the official transportation logistics provider and struck a deal with the DNC Committee to have its Uber Rider Lounge, where customers could wait in an air-conditioned tent for their drives. This arrangement riled Uber’s local rivals, Lyft and the tax industry.

I reached out to Uber to find out more. How many rides surged around the city beyond those requested at the convention site? What was demand like outside of the 45 minutes on Thursday that they provided information for? A spokesman for the company said Uber wouldn’t be releasing any more details.

The company is due back in court at the beginning of October, when a judge will determine whether the company can operate in Philadelphia. UberX was legalized before the DNC came to town through a reprieve, and state legislatures may pass a bill to fully legalize the company before the end of the reprieve on September 30th.

And Uber, has, of course, already gotten back to its normal operations.

“Now, it’s time to take a breath and let things get back to normal,” the statement said. “We’ll be hard at work making sure you can get a ride in minutes, no matter where you are in the City of Brotherly love.”

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