It has long been reported that Google-owned Waze has been working on a ride-sharing service of its own. In fact, Waze Carpool has already been in use in Waze’s home town of Israel. In the US, it’s started off with a limited testing phase in San Francisco. Waze head of development Josh Fried revealed that Carpool is now actually operating in 9 counties inside San Francisco. But despite the still limited expansion, Waze has no delusions that it will be taking on ride-hailing giants like Lyft and Uber.
Waze Carpool differs from those two rivaling companies in two important ways. On a somewhat superficial level, Carpool isn’t a distinct app from the main, and only, Waze navigation app. You get a ride via the same app, without having to switch in between.
But more importantly, Carpool’s goal as well as implementation is based on the purest form of ride-sharing. Whereas services like Uber and Lyft have practically transformed into private cabs, Carpool is intended to help reduce the number of cars on the road by pooling together people who are traveling in the same direction. As such, Carpool pairs drivers and riders who live or work near each other, ensuring that drivers don’t have to go out of their usual route just to drop off a rider.
That goal also shows in the almost non-existent profits that Carpool drivers make. Riders pay 54 cents per mile, which is the IRS reimbursement rate for business car travel, and Waze has no intention to raise that price. Drivers are also limited to two rides per day. Carpool isn’t exactly profitable, either for the driver or for Waze itself.
In the end, the point isn’t to oust Uber or Lyft as the king of ride-sharing services. Waze Carpool’s goal is to get more cars off the road and it is relying less on profits and more on drivers’ and riders’ consciences to make that happen.