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Carpool: Waze is getting serious about 'beating rush hour traffic'

Why it matters to you

Cheap and hopefully cheerful, such a carpooling service could be a handy alternative to other ride-sharing services.

Google-owned Waze is gearing up for a major expansion of its carpooling service after a successful run in San Francisco.

Carpool will be launching in more cities in the United States, as well as in Latin America, in the coming months, Waze boss Noam Bardin told the Wall Street Journal this week.

The rollout will put Waze up against the likes of ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft, both of whom already offer carpooling options — UberPool and Lyft Line. And with around 80 million users already using the community-based traffic and navigation app on a regular basis, Waze knows it’s perfectly positioned to hit the ground running.

Waze’s system allows drivers to make up to two rides a day — for example, to and from work — and riders pay to cover the cost of gas, plus a little extra.

The downside? A Carpool user has to request a shared ride several hours ahead of time, and then hope someone responds. If no one does, you can always jump in an Uber or Lyft.

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Following carpool testing in San Francisco and also in the company’s home nation of Israel, Bardin admitted the biggest hurdle for its service is “[getting] the average person on his way to work to pick someone up and drop them off once in a while.” So far, around 150,000 Waze users in San Francisco and Tel Aviv, Israel, have signed up to the carpool service since 2015, but only a very small number have so far given rides, according to Bardin.

The CEO added that at the current time his company doesn’t take a percentage of driver revenue but may levy a 15 percent fee of the total cost if the service proves a hit with users.

With Google’s backing and a massive user base, Waze seems well placed to make a go of its Carpool service. Though with both Uber and Google continuing to make progress with their respective autonomous vehicle projects, it may not be too long before empty cars are driving up to collect passengers, giving both companies additional options over the kind of transportation services they offer.