Ride sharing companies face a crisis. Anyone who has sought a ride over the past year will notice an appreciable increase in wait times and fares relative to our pre-pandemic life.There simply aren’t enough drivers to match demand as we reopen the economy.

Many have argued that the ride-hailing giants should increase benefits across the board to bring drivers back—missing out that these costs will be passed onto consumers.It’s not that easy. Ridesharing companies are losing billions every year despite their popularity.But, just as Lyft, Uber, and Door Dash established their dominance via the open market, the gig economy giants have three market-based solutions looming on the horizon: creating transferrable benefits, adding proportionality to existing benefits, and empowering independence with professional drivers.

It won’t come easy.In 2019, the California legislature pushed to require ridesharing companies to treat their drivers as full employees with benefits.These companies instead arguedthat gig economy workers merited a middle tier category between full-time employees and independent contractors.Using newfound political muscle, Uber and Lyft passed Prop 22 in California last year, exempting app-based rideshare and delivery drivers from AB 5’s requirements.

Prop 22created an earnings floorthat is 120% of the minimum wage, a healthcare subsidy, and 30¢ per mile in expenses, adjusted for inflation.Some drivers believe this isinsufficient, and suggest that even after including all of Prop 22’s benefits they are making as little as $5.64 per hour.The companies for their part do cover 82%, the national average, of a Covered California bronze plan ($409 per month) if a driver has 25 engaged hours per week—about 37.5 hours with wait times.And yet, both sides are still missing a chance to strike common-sense compromises with these three solutions.

First, Uber and Lyft should introduce transferrable payroll benefits so workers can accrue paid sick leave and disability insurance as they work, and move the benefits like a 401(k) as they switch gig economy roles.Congress could further incentivize this model by taking the benefits off pre-tax income, just like a 401(k).That structure could harness the flexible labor potential of the industry without hampering its strengths.

Second, they should build on the proportional benefits as they’ve done with the healthcare subsidy (15-25 engaged hours earns a driver 41% of a Covered California plan).In other words, the more a driver looks like a full-time employee, the more they should gain benefits like a higher minimum wage, reimbursed wear and tear, and unemployment insurance.

Finally, they can empower full-time drivers with added independence. Until April, all drivers could set their prices and choose rides based on their destinations. Reintroducing that functionality would reward their top professional class.

Uber and Lyft gained an immediate leverageover traditional taxis by empowering drivers to independently operate their own taxi companies across the country and globe with smart phones that served as handheld taxi dispatchers.The ridesharing companies are easy to demonize, but they are popular, create jobs, preventthe need for car ownership, and are good for the environment.As more people get vaccines, the apps can also be incredibly affordable with options like Lyft Shared and UberPool.

Many drivers value the flexibility, so much that they’d need to be paid double to give up the work-when-you-want schedule.But, Covid has forced a reset giving us a chance to find a new equilibrium.If the ride sharing companies are smart, they use the reset finda new middle ground that better serves the drivers and the passengers.With a little luck, some of these firms might even turn a profit.