Andrés Fielbaum, Felipe Ruiz, Giorgio Boccardo, Daniela Rubio, Alejandro Tirachini , Jorge Rosales-Salas
Transport workers were among the most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. In several countries, public transport and delivery drivers were considered essential workers during the pandemic, while the demand changed dramatically. In this context, little is known about the actual effects of the pandemic on the lives of drivers, and whether those effects depend on the type and formality of the corresponding job. In this paper, we analyse the impact of the pandemic on the daily jobs of public transport, ride-hailing, and delivery app drivers: we study changes on working time and income, pandemic-related concerns, and deterioration of job satisfaction, through a survey applied to drivers during the first peak of the pandemic in Santiago, Chile. Probit regressions on job satisfaction identify the main COVID-related experiences that explain variations in subjective perceptions.
We then discuss the implications for post-pandemic job relationships, drivers’ working conditions and urban mobility. We show that the unstable characteristics of app-based jobs sharpened during the pandemic: Public transport drivers have kept their jobs, with a similar income as in the pre-pandemic situation and keep their social security, whereas ride-hailing and delivery app drivers do not have social security. Several ride-hailing drivers lost their jobs without any compensation, while delivery drivers earn less money per hour, are more exhausted, and express the greatest concerns and largest decrease in their job satisfaction. The COVID-19 crisis has emphasized that the sustainability of post-pandemic passenger and delivery on-demand services needs to rely on formal job regulation and worker protection.