News Roundup: Transportation, Legal, and the Gig Economy

From transit innovation to the latest apps, here’s what’s happening in the news.

Lyft’s Bid to Rule the Streets Now Includes Public Transit

Opening a transit app means the end goal is to get from one place to another. That’s exactly what Lyft is trying to help customers do—beyond getting in one of their driver’s cars.

Lyft’s co-founder and president John Zimmer is trying to rethink the way people move around a city outside of their current model. Customers in Santa Monica now have the option of “Nearby Transit” to find information about the Big Blue Bus, LA Metro Expo Line, and MetroLink, all ways to get around other than by ridesharing. Directions and times of arrival will all display directly in the app itself. More capabilities may be on the way—Lyft has discussed having specific directions with public transit and expanding the service to other cities. Being able to pay directly from the app isn’t yet an option, but with positive feedback and the right integrations, it’s one step away.

Zimmer’s end goal is to reinvent transportation entirely. Modes of transportation that only carry one person yet use significant resources, namely, many cars on the road, aren’t sustainable long-term. Lyft is trying to reinvent this with bike shares, subscription models, and now, integrating public transit into their plan.

Lyft’s key mission is to get customers to use the app regularly. Creating a platform that makes transportation seamless—whatever that transportation happens to be—signifies they are well on their way to reimagining how the transit industry can look.

New App Lets You ‘Sue Anyone By Pressing a Button’

When it comes to legal battles, the words “Do Not Pay” sound like a great option, especially for smaller cases. That’s what Stanford senior Joshua Browder thought as he dealt with numerous parking tickets. If the struggle to fight a parking ticket was this big, he guessed it was happening in other smaller court cases as well, and decided to create an app, Do Not Pay, to fix this problem.

While a robot fighting lawyers may not seem likely, the bot has won about 50% of its cases in the UK and all across the United States. Browder doesn’t intend for the product to replace lawyers but sees it as a valuable platform for smaller, unambiguous cases. The platform also provides a way for low-income users to get assistance in the legal process that they wouldn’t have been able to afford before.

One of the biggest cases was against Equifax, where Browder’s app won twice against the $3 billion company. With the proper tools to help educate and fight for them, Do Not Pay is proving customers can win, even against large corporations. As technology continues to grow, the legal industry is growing and expanding along with it.

Worries about the rise of the gig economy are mostly overblown

From ride services to food delivery, the gig economy is growing faster than ever before. Platforms have connected workers to tasks, freeing up the time and type of work to fit any lifestyle. While it’s difficult to track exact numbers, some data showed that gigs were accounting for 1% of American employment.

Gig work has its benefits as well as detriments. Jobs are more flexible and can meet the needs of a wider range of people. Some worry that it will take away steady labor, however. Gig workers are also treated differently when it comes to the law. Since they are not permanent employees, many companies treat their agreement simply as “participation” in the platform, solely independent contractors. Having these workers as employees puts more pressure and expenses on the original companies, as benefits such as sick time off and healthcare must be taken into consideration.

Cases and hearings are already in place for many of these gig companies, but results vary. The only certainty for now is that the conversation and the reinvention of the way people work has just begun.

From how people get to work to what that work is, the business industry is transforming and expanding to personalize experiences, from transportation to legal battles, for everyone.