Emerging Mobility Labor Study


This study was commissioned by the San Francisco Local Agency Formation Commission (SF LAFCo) to help the City better understand whether the labor policies of emerging mobility companies and their “gig” job models align with the City’s labor principle: “ensure fairness in pay and labor policies and practices.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines gig jobs “as ride hailing, delivery services, or other work where online platforms are used to request, match and schedule jobs."

SF LAFCo commissioned a survey led by UC Santa Cruz Professor Chris Benner, the most representative survey of on-demand workers in the U.S. The team selected for the study, and the authors of its reports, represents a unique partnership between academic researchers, community organizers, and an innovative platform cooperative. 

We assembled a set of policy recommendations, meant to be preliminary in nature, to engage experts from various City departments and stakeholders for further investigation and action. Below are the study's timeline, findings, and preliminary recommendations. They included novel and timely research on COVID-19 and its effects on platform-based workers.

Project Manager: Bryan Goebel

Bryan Goebel was the project manager for the Emerging Mobility Labor Study. He served as executive officer of SF LAFCo and previously spent eight months as a full-time app-based bicycle courier. He is a former award-winning journalist who most recently served as a transportation reporter for KQED Public Radio and the editor of Streetsblog San Francisco.


  • Determine whether emerging mobility companies and technologies are aligned with the City’s labor principle to ensure fairness in pay and labor policies and practices.
  • Obtain demographic data about the on-demand workforce in San Francisco to help inform policy recommendations.
  • Examine what the City of San Francisco can do to improve working conditions and improve the lives of app-based workers. 


  • October 2018 – February 2019: Project initiation and stakeholder engagement
  • October 2018 – March 2019:  Request for proposals selection process
  • November 2018 – June 2019: Develop methodology and survey instrument
  • October 2018 – December 2019:  Company interviews and data requests
  • September - February 2020: Online survey, data gathering, data cleaning
  • March 2020 - Larger survey suspended and shifting to online survey to assess coronavirus impacts
  • May 1, 2020 - Issue preliminary report 



The survey would not have been possible without the generous support of the ReWork the Bay, the San Francisco Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Chavez Family Foundation