After hundreds of cars were stuck on a 40-mile icy stretch in Virginia, Interstate 95 reopened Tuesday night. Drivers drove home exhausted, irritated, and with unexpected expenditures.
Andrew Peters of Richmond had finally arrived home after a nine-hour journey in the cold weather when he was greeted by a colossal Uber bill, according to WTOP-FM.
Peters told FOX Television Station Group he wasn’t aware of what was going on because he was returning to the state on a flight from San Francisco.
“We hopped right on the highway, and literally the second we got on there we were just stuck,” he said of his experience.
When Peters returned home, he had a $200 Uber charge to pay. However, Peters later claimed that Uber had added $400 to his cost, bringing his total to $600.
“That’s a lot of money,” Peters told FOX. “I was a little scared. I was like oh my gosh, that’s crazy.”
According to Peters, the ride-hailing business never mentioned fares altering on his app. He explained that he had to put his credit card on hold because he was concerned that the charge might result in an overdraft.
Peters received a refund notice for his trip on Wednesday, and Uber said in a statement to FOX News, “We have refunded Mr. Peters after this terrible ordeal and are so glad that he and his Uber driver got home safely.”
“I was fine paying my original fare, plus the tip. It was just that charge that was on there that I was trying to dispute,” Peters added.
According to Uber’s website, “heavy traffic may cause your trip to take longer than expected, and to compensate your driver for the additional time, your fare may change.”
If a driver believes a fare charge was made unfairly, he or she can file a dispute on the company’s website.
“I wouldn’t Uber during any snow incident or in high traffic areas, because I didn’t know they could increase their fare, but I guess it’s something they can do and do often,” Peters continued. “So, I would stray away from that.”
However, this could be only one of the costs incurred during the Monday night pileup, which left hundreds of motorists trapped in subzero weather.
On Monday, the neighborhood received seven to eleven inches of snow, with much of it freezing after the sunset. At 3:30 p.m., Virginia State Police reported on Monday that troopers had responded to more than 2,000 calls for service due to dangerous road conditions.
According to the Associated Press, truck driver Emily Slaughter was traveling from New Jersey to Georgia to transport veggies to a FedEx facility when she became stranded on the southbound side of Interstate 95 for five hours. She claimed that everything was great on the journey until she arrived in Virginia.
“All of a sudden you could no longer see lines. It got a little scary there,” she said.
Meera Rao and her husband Raghavendra were heading home from a visit to their daughter in North Carolina on Monday evening when they became trapped. They were only 100 feet from an escape but couldn’t move for 16 hours, according to the Associated Press.
“Not one police (officer) came in the 16 hours we were stuck,” she said. “No one came. It was just shocking. Being in the most advanced country in the world, no one knew how to even clear one lane for all of us to get out of that mess?”
Governor Ralph Northam spoke with FOX 5 DC about the incident, saying that his staff, along with state police, transportation, and emergency management authorities, reacted throughout the night.
“An emergency message is going to all stranded drivers connecting them to support, and the state is working with localities to open warming shelters as needed. While sunlight is expected to help @VaDOT clear the road, all Virginians should continue to avoid 1-95,” he tweeted Tuesday morning.
As emotions grew on Tuesday, some cars were seen turning around and driving the other way on stretches of I-95 in an attempt to avoid traffic.
Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia says he was trapped in traffic for 19 hours overnight.
“I started my normal 2-hour drive to DC at 1 pm yesterday. 19 hours later, I’m still not near the Capitol. My office is in touch with VDOT to see how we can help other Virginians in this situation. Please stay safe everyone,” he tweeted Tuesday morning.
Because of the highway shutdown and perhaps Kaine’s absence, the Senate postponed its noon vote on Tuesday.