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Atlanta Uber drivers protest fare cuts

Atlanta-based Uber drivers will stage two protests Friday over the company's decision to reduce fares.
A person holds up a phone with an Uber app displayed.

ATLANTA -- Atlanta's Uber drivers staged a pair of protests Friday over the company's decision to reduce fares.

In the first protest, drivers rallied at the 10th Street entrance to Piedmont Park.

The second protest was expected to have a much bigger impact on the customers who rely on the ride sharing service. Almost 900 Uber drivers planned to off their phones from 5 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday -- one of the busiest blocks of time of the week.

Protest organizers said Uber has reduced fares in Atlanta twice in the past year. Fares were cut by 20 percent in January 2014 and another 20 percent in June. A third round of cuts in 48 cities, including Atlanta, was just announced. Uber also eliminated flat fares for trips to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The protest's stated goal is to have Uber reinstate the old fares and airport flat fees.

The Uber drivers compared their protest to the one Martin Luther King Jr. led in Memphis shortly before he was assassinated, saying, "It is in keeping with his philosophy of nonviolence that we protest by staging two peaceful actions in the hope that Uber, now valued at $40 billion, will support the people who provide high quality service and ultimately are responsible for the company's success."

Keith Radford, Uber's general manager in Atlanta, said that other cities that have reduced Uber fares have seen drivers earn just as much if not more than before, as low prices lure more customers.

"We're committed to making Uber the most affordable option to move around town and the best platform for our driver partners to earn a living, and seasonal price cuts means more demand, which results in significantly more trips for our driver partners, and more earnings for every hour on the road," Radford said in a statement emailed to 11Alive News. "We're so confident in the earnings gains drivers will see from the lower prices that we're guaranteeing our partners will make the same if not more than before."