By Anthony Comeaux
After serving ten years in the Marine Corps, I’m all too familiar with the frequent moves a military career requires. It comes with challenges for the whole family as they get to know a new neighborhood and new schools.
These frequent moves are particularly hard on working spouses who have to find a new job with every relocation. That is why it is important to ensure we make it easy for service members and their families to take advantage of flexible earning opportunities that can bridge the gap in a new community. Small changes that help families adjust can make a big difference.
That is why I strongly support Sen. Richard Roth’s Senate Bill 1080, which allows active duty-military and members of their family to drive for rideshare companies like Lyft with a valid out-of-state driver’s license.
Like any other family, active duty military and their dependents can use the supplemental income earned through rideshares to help make ends meet, plan for big purchases, and save for rainy days. Across the country, 10 percent of Lyft drivers are veterans and a full 26 percent have a family member who has served or is currently serving in the armed forces, according to data released by the company.
Military members are not required to change their driver’s license for each temporary move between states, and this same standard should be applied to those that want to earn extra income as a rideshare driver. As a veteran who’s found a reliable stream of flexible income driving for Lyft, this simple fix is a no-brainer. Legislators on both sides of the aisle should support it.
The flexible earning opportunities make it easy for service members to drive during their down time, and provide an easy income bridge for spouses looking for new work in a different state. Lyft’s data shows that 99 percent of drivers work for less than 20 hours a week. And with over 190,000 active duty military in California and tens of thousands more in their immediate families, burdensome regulations that limit work opportunities do us a disservice.
Members of the armed forces are relocated ten times more often than civilian families, moving on average every two to three years. It’s hard enough to relocate your family without being hassled just to access the same supplemental earning opportunities as everyone else. Service members have no control over where they’ll be sent next, and no way of predicting what job prospects in a new city will be for their spouses. In a state like California, with some of the highest taxes and costs of living in the nation, flexible earning opportunities made possible by ridesharing aren’t just a convenient path to earning extra income — they can be a lifeline.
In addition to giving military families an economic boost, more rideshare drivers around military bases means easier rides to help them get from point A to B. 93 percent of Lyft drivers in San Diego County have given a ride to a neighbor, 20 percent use Lyft to connect to public transit, and 23 percent use Lyft to get around when public transit doesn’t operate.
If this legislation passes, rather than be subjected to unnecessary barriers and fees, hardworking service members and their spouses could turn their vehicles into income generators immediately after relocating here. For military families who already give so much to serve us all, we need to do everything in our power to support them. Let’s make sure SB 1080 succeeds as a small token of our appreciation. The least we can do is give our military families some much-deserved peace of mind.
Anthony Comeaux is a Louisiana native who retired in San Diego after 10 years in the Marine Corps.