Two-Sided Fairness for Repeated Matchings in Two-Sided Markets: A Case Study of a Ride-Hailing Platform

author: Tom Sühr, Max Planck Institute for Software Systems, Max Planck Institute
published: March 2, 2020,   recorded: August 2019,   views: 5

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Ride hailing platforms, such as Uber, Lyft, Ola or DiDi, have traditionally focused on the satisfaction of the passengers, or on boosting successful business transactions. However, recent studies provide a multitude of reasons to worry about the drivers in the ride hailing ecosystem. The concerns range from bad working conditions and worker manipulation to discrimination against minorities. With the sharing economy ecosystem growing, more and more drivers financially depend on online platforms and their algorithms to secure a living. It is pertinent to ask what a fair distribution of income on such platforms is and what power and means the platform has in shaping these distributions.

In this paper, we analyze job assignments of a major taxi company and observe that there is significant inequality in the driver income distribution. We propose a novel framework to think about fairness in the matching mechanisms of ride hailing platforms. Specifically, our notion of fairness relies on the idea that, spread over time, all drivers should receive benefits proportional to the amount of time they are active in the platform. We postulate that by not requiring every match to be fair, but rather distributing fairness over time, we can achieve better overall benefit for the drivers and the passengers. We experiment with various optimization problems and heuristics to explore the means of achieving two-sided fairness, and investigate their caveats and side-effects. Overall, our work takes the first step towards rethinking fairness in ride hailing platforms with an additional emphasis on the well-being of drivers.

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