I-95 shutdown: Uber rider trapped in traffic slammed with $600 bill

Interstate 95 reopened Tuesday night after hundreds of drivers were trapped on a 40-mile icy stretch in Virginia. Drivers returned home tired, frustrated — and even with surprise bills.

Andrew Peters of Richmond finally made it home after a nine-hour trek in the winter weather when he was hit with a giant Uber bill, WTOP-FM first reported.

Peters told FOX Television Station Group he was returning to the state on a flight from San Francisco and wasn’t aware of what was going on.

"We hopped right on the highway, and literally the second we got on there we were just stuck," he said of his experience.

Peters got home and paid a $200 Uber bill. But then Peters said Uber added $400, raising his total bill 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." 

Peters said the ride-hailing company never mentioned anything about fares changing on his app. He noted he had to pause his credit card since he was worried the charge may overdraft his account.

On Wednesday, Peters received a notice of refund for his trip, and Uber responded to FOX’s request for comment stating, "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."

Drivers can dispute a charge on its website if they believe a fare charge happened unfairly.

"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."

But this may be just one example of fees incurred during Monday night’s pileup when hundreds of motorists were stranded in freezing temperatures.

Between seven to 11 inches of snow accumulated in the area Monday with much of it freezing as the sun went down. As of 3:30 p.m. Monday, Virginia State Police said troopers had responded to more than 2,000 calls for service due to hazardous road conditions.

According to the Associated Press, truck driver Emily Slaughter said she was driving from New Jersey to Georgia to deliver vegetables to a FedEx facility and became stranded for five hours on the southbound side of I-95. She said everything on the road was fine until she hit 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 driving home after visiting their daughter in North Carolina when they got stuck Monday evening. They were only 100 feet past an exit but could not move for roughly 16 hours, the Associated Press wrote.

"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?"

Gov. Ralph Northam spoke with FOX 5 DC about the situation and said his team responded through the night alongside state police, transportation and emergency management officials. 

"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 frustrations mounted Tuesday, some drivers were spotted turning around on parts of I-95 and driving the wrong way in an attempt to escape traffic.

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine said he has been stuck in traffic for 19 hours overnight.

"I started my normal 2 hour drive to DC at 1pm 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.

The Senate said they postponed their noon vote Tuesday because of the highway shutdown and possibly Kaine's absence.

FOX 5 DC and the Associated Press contributed to this story.