Uber and Lyft have virtually cornered the market on getting a ride with the ease of an app—or have they?
Google’s Waze app is testing a ride sharing functionality that will allow commuters in the San Francisco area make their commutes a little less lonely and a little easier, all with the help of a smartphone. In May of this year, Google piloted the program with select firms around its HQ, but intends to expand its Waze mobile app to include all San Francisco-area commuters this fall.
A More Affordable Ride-Sharing Option?
Unlike Uber and Lyft, the Waze program isn’t meant to provide the driver with a way to make an additional income, it’s only meant to cover gas and wear and tear on their cars. Currently, the program doesn’t charge more than 54 cents a mile, making it an affordable option for commuters interested in ride-sharing.
Before the program was piloted in San Francisco, though, Google and Waze tried it out in the program’s native Israel. It was such a hit there that there are now carpool services available at all hours in most parts of Israel using the mobile app. Google hopes for the same level of success in cities like San Francisco.
Although anyone can sign up as a driver or a rider in the planned expansion, Google doesn’t intend to hire anyone as an employee or vet participants. Instead, members of the community will have to rate each other and provide reliable feedback to help their fellow Waze users decide who to pick up or ride with. There will likely be complicated social issues to navigate, but for the near future, the ride sharing program shows promise for commuters.
Down the road, Google is toying with the idea of testing its driverless cars with the Waze ride-sharing service, eliminating the need for a driver entirely. Even as Uber plans to start testing driverless taxis in Pittsburgh this fall, Google’s 1.8 million driverless miles added to the carpool lane could certainly shake the ride-hailing market up even further.