Last week (beginning of October 2017), the Uber app was sending out notifications trying to educate its drivers about the Chicago TNP (Transportation Network Providers) hours of service requirements.
According to the rules published by the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (a department that notably also does licensing for the taxi, limousine drivers, etc), RULE TNP1.11 – Duty to Monitor Driver and Vehicle Hours states:
A TNP license applicant, new and renewal, must submit its written process to monitor compliance to ensure that its affiliated drivers and vehicles are not operating on the licensee’s platform for more than ten (10) hours within a 24-hour period.
This rule affects all the ridesharing platforms, such as Lyft and Via, not only Uber. The rule is not very clear on how it would monitor drivers that are using 2 or more platforms. Let’s suppose that, on a given day, you are online 6 hours for Lyft and 5 hours for Uber. According Uber’s notification, you may receive a very costly fine, of $500 or more because the sum of the hours across both platforms exceeded 10 hours. But what about the time that you spent online on both platforms, waiting to get a trip? If out of the 11 total hours you spent 1.5 hours running both apps, at the same time, then your actual time online as a rideshare driver is 9.5 hours, not exceeding the 10 hours allowed by the City of Chicago. I guess that an easy fix for that would be if the Lyft and Uber apps kept track of the actual time when you got online on their respective apps. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for this change though, due to the fact that probably neither of the platforms likes it drivers being online at the same time on a competitor platform.
Is The Ridesharing Hours Of Service Rule Good or Bad
My short answer is that it is good. Well, not for your bottom line as a driver, of course not. But years of driving for a living taught me that no amount of money is a good reason to sacrifice safety, be it your safety, your passengers’ safety or both. Tomorrow’s another day when you can earn some more money. But the devil is in the details. So, my next question is:
Would you exceed the legal number of TNP hours of service if you made enough money?
I think you will agree with me when I say that most of the Uber & Lyft drivers would not exceed 10 hours within a 24-hour period if they earned at least a basic income during the 10 hours.
Of, course it depends on what earning enough money means for you. For me it means being able to pay for basics such as rent for a 1 bedroom apartment, food, utility bills, medical insurance, gas, car insurance and other bills the regular US household needs to pay.
I live in Skokie, a suburb of Chicago. Depending on the day of the week and the time of day, being online both on Uber and Lyft is a necessity for me. It ensures that I do not wait too long until I get another trip. If I am out ridesharing, I prefer taking riders from point A to point B versus waiting parked on the side of the street. I might get fined if I go through the above scenario, where the sum of the time online of both apps exceeds 10 hours, but the actual online time does not exceed 10 hours.
What Does 10 Hours In A 24 Hour Period Means?
I was a semi truck driver for quite a few years. I had to keep a log book with similar requirements (although more complex) when it came to keeping track of the hours of service. Making sure you do not exceed the hours of service gets a little bit tricky at the beginning, until you get used to it.
Let suppose yesterday, Friday, you were online from 11AM-3PM and from 5PM-11PM. Today, Saturday, there is an event in Chicago and you plan to go driving from 8AM-1PM and then take off to spend the rest of the day with your family.
So, let’s recap your hours of service:
Friday 4 hours (11AM-3PM) + 6 hours (5PM-11PM) = 10 hours. You comply with RULE TNP1.11
Saturday 5 hours (8AM-1PM). You comply with RULE TNP1.11
So you’re good, right?
Friday 5PM-Saturday 5PM you were online 6 hours (Friday 5PM-11PM) + 5 hours (Saturday 8AM-1PM) = 11 hours. You do not comply with RULE TNP1.11.
You have to make sure that you were not operating on the ridesharing platforms for more than 10 hours in ANY given 24 hour period.
Now, another question comes to mind. I apologise, I really meant to give you more answers in this article, but how can you get good answers if you do not ask the right questions?
What Does Operating On The Licensee’s Platform Mean?
When it comes to trucking, onduty time and driving time are tracked separately. Onduty is time spent fueling, or waiting somewhere (such as when trucks are being loaded or unloaded), etc. Waiting for a ride from a ridesharing platform is the correspondent of being onduty for truck drivers. However, we only have a vague, all-encompassing “operating” term to describe ALL the activities performed by a TNP driver, including waiting for 1 hour or more at the O’Hare or Midway TNP lots or waiting for a ride parked on the side of the street. The rule is also vague about how it will treat time spent operating in a suburb, although I would bet a lot that ALL the hours spent operating on a platform will be consider once you are investigated by the City of Chicago.
How Can I Make Sure I Can Still Make A Living While Operating Only 10 Hours In Any Given 24 Hour Period?
The trucking industry is in uproar over the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule that will eventually require each semi truck to be equipped with a device that keeps track of the hours of service. A lot of drivers cite privacy issues, device costs, etc, but I am guessing that the number would be a lot smaller if they were not worried about how this requirement will affect their bottom-line.
It all comes down to how much money you can make in the timeframe that you are allowed to drive. I have friend that keeps on mentioning the “cost of opportunity”. It’s a fancy way of saying that when you are doing one activity, you are not doing something else (that is potentially more lucrative). If you cannot make the minimum income you require in the 10 hours, will you still work for Uber or Lyft or will you choose to look for something else that will earn you that income?
There are a few ways that I can think of that will maximize your ridesharing income in Chicago (and other cities that will adopt similar rules):
- plan your operating hours ahead and choose periods that you think will be busier/more lucrative
- test the ridesharing platforms and see how Uber and Lyft compare for drivers
- get even more familiarized with the ridesharing app that you use as a driver. They might update the apps (and probably the rules too) to reflect the new requirements.
- learn how you can make more money ridesharing without working more