Uber sees boost in DC signups during Metro closure

The decision to close Washington, D.C.'s subway system for safety checks on Wednesday was a boon for Uber. 

The company said that it saw a 70 percent spike in the number of people signing up for the ride-booking service compared to this time last week. The company also said about 50 percent more drivers than normal were on the road to handle the morning commute. 

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The company had said it would cap surge pricing during the Metrorail shutdown. Uber, which has a model that increases fares when demand grows, said fares averaged about 1.7 times normal throughout the morning. 

"Due to the unexpected Metro service suspension, demand will be higher than normal," Uber told its users Tuesday night. "Surge pricing will be capped for the duration of the closure. Please be patient if you experience high ETAs."

The company also used the Metro closure as a way to advertise its "uberPOOL" service that gives discounted rates to people who opt to allow drivers to pick up other passengers. It extended that service throughout the metro area. 

The company did not release statistics on the increase in ridership Wednesday morning from existing users, however. 

Uber was not the only service that was bracing for increased ridership, even as the federal government authorized unscheduled leave or unscheduled telework. 

The DC Taxicab Commission authorized the expansion of shared riding, which allows "multiple passengers to be picked up together and dropped off at different locations."

"All trips shall use the metered taxicab rates and no additional surcharges will be in effect,"  the commission said in a statement.