Waze Expands Carpool Service Throughout California Bay Area

Waze has brought its carpooling service to additional California counties and hopes to separate itself from market leaders Uber and Lyft.
Eric Chiu

Waze Carpool, the navigation program’s carpooling service, announced Tuesday it will expand to several counties throughout the Bay Area, according to Forbes.

Through Waze Carpool, users can connect with other people nearby to easily carpool to and from work. While Waze Carpool was originally limited to the San Francisco area when it launched last year, the updated coverage area includes all nine major counties within the Bay Area, Sacramento County and Monterey County.

At the moment, Waze aims to roll out Carpool at a slower pace. Drivers can apply for Carpool by providing basic information that includes a LinkedIn profile and vehicle registration details. Riders also pay drivers only 54 cents per mile — the current IRS reimbursement rate for business traveling — and drivers can take up to two rides per day. Waze eventually expects to expand the program to other larger cities, though the company did not specify specific markets.

Uber Vs. Waze Carpool Vs. Lyft: Ride-Sharing Features

While the ride-sharing market has been dominated by Uber and Lyft, Waze’s approach to Carpool reflects their hopes to take on a different market. With their user structure, Uber and Lyft are modeled like a typical taxi service: drivers depend on users who need one-time rides for short distances and rely on high ride volume for steady earnings. Both companies have also expanded to other major national and international metropolitan areas within the past few years.

By comparison, Carpool intends to complement — instead of being a primary option — for to car-dependent users who regularly drive to and from the same areas. Waze’s partnerships with the Kaiser Permanente hospital network and the University of California-San Francisco for Carpool reflect this. With Carpool, Waze wants to encourage users and employees at its partner institutions to ride together for cheaper commutes and improve traffic congestion.

But as The Verge points out, traction for carpooling services has generally been difficult to come by for Lyft and Uber. Both services offer cheaper ride-sharing services for multiple riders, but Lyft shuttered a carpooling sub-service after it failed to find enough drivers. While Waze Carpool’s smaller rollout and partnerships give it a head start, it remains to be seen whether the service can find enough traction to meet its larger goals.

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