Google’s Waze takes aim at hellish Silicon Valley traffic

At a time when most Bay Area residents are throwing up their hands over apparently un-fixable traffic and many appear driven to flee the region, Google has come up with a possible solution: make carpooling easier.

Plans to add carpooling to Google’s Waze traffic-and-navigation app will likely find a receptive audience. Late last month, the Bay Area Council released poll results indicating that 70 percent of drivers commuted solo, and that 83 percent of respondents thought the region’s traffic would never get better. A third said they wanted to leave the region because of traffic and high housing costs.

Among the remedies suggested by the council’s president? Carpooling apps.

Now Waze has announced a pilot project for just such an app. “Waze Carpool” is currently open to a select number of Silicon Valley companies and their employees, according to the company. The app matches a driver with a passenger based on their home and work locations. An automatic transfer system kicks gas money from passenger to driver.

Currently limited to invited companies in what Waze describes as “the Silicon Valley corridor,” the program is accepting applications from employers to participate. Members of the public can sign up online to be notified if they become eligible.

One low-tech carpooling system, the “casual carpool” that sees commuters line up in East Bay locations to be picked up in twos by solo commuters who can then use the carpool lane on the Bay Bridge, has been in place for decades. However, without the carpool-lane benefit on the reverse trip, usage is lighter, and many riders take transit home.

Drivers in Waze’s project don’t receive money additional to the gas contribution. Other carpooling apps exist in the Bay Area, including one from non-profit Carma, which addresses the cost-coverage issue via a 20 cents per mile payment to drivers.

 

Photo: Traffic stacks up on Almaden Expressway.  (Karen T. Borchers/Bay Area News Group Archives)

 

 

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  • Mike Sullivan

    Not a bad idea but making telecommuting as effective as commuting to an office would be a better idea. Commute time would be non-existent and housing costs in the Bay Area would be irrelevant (oh, and it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions). Google is the perfect company to solve this problem. Why are they wasting their time on this outdated oh so last century project?

  • It is easy. Google should move elsewhere.

  • Quincy Dukes

    This is clearly only a band-aid on the problem. The car pool lane is a single lane on all of this region’s multi-lane expressways. Even a 15-20% increase in car pool lane usage will bring slowdowns to the car pool lane.

    Don’t forget that entering and exiting the car pool lane (which is typically the left-most lane on area expressways) necessitates moving through several lanes of slow-moving or stopped traffic, which complicates ease of use.

  • rick jones

    Photo: Traffic stacks up on Almaden Expressway. (Karen T. Borchers/Bay Area News Group Archives)

    Does it? Admittedly, it is out of focus but that looks like a CA 65 sign in the background not CA 85, which would put it somewhat far from Silicon Valley.

  • Look, the problem is that most cars have a single occupant (the driver) and most of them are wider than the occupant measures in length. Effectively,that’s like inching forward while lying across. Car pooling helps. Better still, make cars narrower. Split-lane use will be possible. Moreover, the less space a car uses, the less surface area, the less chance it will hit other road users, making it a perfect fit for self-driving as well.

  • Look, the problem is that most cars have a single occupant (the driver) and most of them are wider than the occupant measures in length. Effectively, that’s like inching forward while lying across. Car pooling helps. Better still, make cars narrower. Split-lane use will be possible. Moreover, the less space a car uses, the less surface area, the less chance it will hit other road users, making it a perfect fit for self-driving. It will also force car makers and car drivers to think how ridiculous it is to use a ‘mobile platform’ to go from A to B that weighs 15-30 times as much as that single occupant.

 
 
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