Google’s Waze expands ride-sharing service to Bay Area

Move over, Uber. Make way, Lyft.

There’s a new ride-hailing service in town.

Google’s Waze, a popular navigation app that helps commuters avoid traffic jams on clogged roadways, is expanding its new carpooling feature to the Bay Area.

“Waze confirms that the Waze Carpool trial has been gradually opening to new users and is currently available to commuters in the greater San Francisco Bay Area who wish to be a part of the pilot,” a Waze spokeswoman wrote Friday morning in an emailed statement. “This includes drivers who can register via the original Waze app, and riders who can request a ride via the separate Waze Rider app.”

The idea is to match riders with commuters already heading in the same direction. Waze has been rolling out the service to San Francisco-area users for several weeks, after first launching a test in May, according to The Wall Street Journal.

People using the new service apparently will be limited to two rides a day — to and from work. A Journal reporter tested the app and paid $3 for a 20-minute trip — part of a discount promoting the app’s launch.

Interested commuters can sign up here.

Waze’s foray into ride-hailing means it is likely to butt heads with San Francisco-based Uber, the $68 billion industry giant, and Lyft, Uber’s smaller competitor. But both Lyft and Uber make most of their money by operating more like a taxi service, using drivers who spend a few hours shuttling passengers between destinations. There are challenges to breaking into the carpool game — where apps try to match a driver and a rider already headed in the same direction. Last month Lyft shut down Lyft Carpool after the service reportedly failed to attract enough drivers. Lyft Carpool sought to match commuters with riders going the same way, allowing them to speed through the carpool lane while the driver made a little extra cash. In a statement regarding the shutdown, a company spokesman wrote: “It is too soon to scale to a meaningful level where supply matches demand.”

Lyft also offers a carpool service called Lyft Line, which allows a rider to cut costs by sharing a regular Lyft with a group of people. Uber offers a similar service called UberPool.

Photo: A screenshot of the Waze app. (Waze) 


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