Last year Google-owned navigation application Waze began testing a carpool feature in the middle of Uber’s and Lyft’s home turf.
Waze Carpool stressed that it intended only to assist commuters go to and from their jobs, chipping in to cover trip costs, and was not getting involved with the types of on-demand rides that Uber and Lyft offer. Still, Waze Carpool would serve as an alternative to ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft, at least for people dealing with daily commutes.
Alphabet is “very happy” with how the pilots went, said Josh Fried, head of Waze Carpool. He said the San Francisco pilot is growing every week, though he declined to share specific numbers, citing the competitive atmosphere.
Now Waze Carpool is expanding to the rest of the Golden State, beginning June 6th, providing another option for California’s tech-savvy commuters, and could potentially ramp up competition for transportation technology start-ups like Uber and Lyft.
Waze’s app allows commuters to input traffic hazards and slowdowns and see a crowd-sourced map of commuting delays. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, bought Israeli-developed Waze in 2013, integrating Google’s extensive mapping and geolocation services into the app.
More recently, the traffic-tracking social app has been running pilots of a service that allows users to pick up passengers along a planned route in Israel and several California communities.
Users can vet the drivers on social media, and even use Waze Carpool as a networking opportunity for those who live nearby, Fried said, not unlike the way Airbnb promises the opportunity not just for cheap accommodations, but to build a relationship with a local.
Through the pilot programs, Waze has learned how to optimize waiting times and driving times for both parties to make sure it’s convenient.
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