Google’s Waze expands carpooling to whole Bay Area

Bay Area commuters don’t have to suffer alone — they can get stuck in the region’s abysmal traffic in the company of other folks, and play a small role in reducing congestion horrors.

After a pilot project launched last year, Google’s traffic and navigation app firm Waze has just opened up its smartphone-based carpooling service in all nine Bay Area counties, along with the area from Sacramento to Monterey.

The move gives commuters another transportation option, and gives Google a platform from which to go after Uber and Lyft, whose UberPool and Lyft Line services allow users to travel in ride-hailing cars together.

For Waze Carpool, commuters are matched by their pick-up and drop-off locations, and only two people are pooled together, according to Waze. The service can’t be used in the manner of a typical ride-hailing app: only two rides per day are permitted, to and from work.

Drivers receive ride requests from people traveling the same route, and those paired up share fuel cost. Waze suggests a payment rate, which is capped at 54 cents per mile. Money is transferred automatically from drivers to riders.

Waze has entered into a partnership with the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission, UC San Francisco and Kaiser Permanente, to encourage use of the carpooling service to cut traffic. While new Waze Carpool users get two free rides, employees of the university and Kaiser get three.

“It’s a tool that can help improve mobility and reduce congestion throughout the region,” MTC executive director Steve Heminger said in a statement.


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


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