Emerging Mobility Labor Study

The San Francisco Local Agency Formation Commission is leading a study on labor practices in emerging mobility services and their “gig” job models. The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines gig jobs, a small but growing share of the economy, “as ride hailing, delivery services, or other work where online platforms are used to request, match and schedule jobs.”

In 2017, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority tried to determine whether the companies’ labor models align with the City’s labor principle, namely that they “ensure fairness in pay and labor policies and practices.” But not enough data was available from most companies to make a determination.

The Emerging Mobility Services Labor Study seeks to make this determination by investigating the companies’ labor models and conducting a survey of on-demand workers in San Francisco, which will be the largest survey of on-demand workers in the U.S. We want to understand the demographics of the contractor labor force. How many contractors work in this sector? Where do they live? How many work for multiple platforms? Do they work full-time or part-time? What are their commute patterns like? How do they access benefits?

SF LAFCo has also partnered with a University of San Francisco graduate class. Students are contributing research on the companies’ California lobbying practices, studying the spatial and geographic dynamics shaping growth in this sector and examining best practices from around the world: What have other cities done to ensure fair wages and labor policies?

We will also invite the companies to share data and answer questions about their labor policies. By our count, this workforce encompasses more than 100 emerging mobility companies in San Francisco, from Uber and Lyft drivers, to food delivery couriers for companies such as Caviar, Door Dash and Postmates, to package delivery couriers for Amazon Flex and Deliv, to “juicers” who charge scooters for companies such as Skip.

The results of the research and survey will inform policy recommendations the SF LAFCo will make to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, state and federal regulators and more than 100 emerging mobility companies.

Project Manager: Bryan Goebel

Bryan Goebel is the project manager for the Emerging Mobility Labor Study. He serves as executive officer of SF LAFCo and previously spent eight months as a full-time “gig economy” 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 gig work.


  • 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 - May 2020:  Data analysis, stakeholder feedback and draft final report
  • May 2020 – Issue final report



The survey would not have been possible without the generous support of the Bay Area Workforce Funders Collaborative and the San Francisco Foundation.


Bryan Goebel, Executive Officer