Nothing has changed mass transit more than the app-based gig economy, which gives people the ability to call a ride from a mobile phone. Companies such as Uber, Lyft, Instacart, DoorDash, and Via Transit have used this technology to allow a network of independent drivers to provide rides and commercial deliveries all over America and in many other countries.
But on Oct. 13 the U.S. Department of Labor published a proposed rule that would change the definition of an independent contractor, potentially making drivers permanent employees of ride share and delivery companies. This could put these companies out of business because they rely on part time workers. Comments on the rule are due Nov. 28.
The Department of Labor estimates that there are 22 million independent contractors. Other estimates are closer to 60 million. The number is imprecise because people self-identify as independent contractors.
The app-based economy has benefited Americans by allowing them to monetize previously-unused portions of their time, raising income levels and providing opportunities for flexible work. Students can take part-time jobs when not studying. Moms can drive Lyfts while kids are in school. School-bus drivers can drive Ubers when their school shifts are over.
Do you have a complaint about Uber or Uber Eats, such as overcharges or fraud? Take your claim to FairShake, the consumer advocacy service.