Google’s Waze Rider rideshare program ends testing phase, goes live in SF

Waze Rider casual carpooling is now available for all Waze users in the San Francisco area. After months of testing its rideshare concept with the employees of select tech companies, the service is open to all, as reported by Engadget.

Waze Rider differs from Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare programs in several respects. Any Waze mapping app user can sign up to be a driver or rider. Drivers aren’t screened or subject to background checks. Drivers also won’t make a lot of money because they’re limited to just two rides a day — in concept that means drivers give someone else a ride on their own way to and from work.

When Waze Rider drivers register they are asked for their home and work addresses and their general schedule. That information is used to match the driver with a prospective rider going in the same direction at approximately the same time of day.

The transaction is kept simple. There are no surge prices and drivers aren’t paid for their labor or their time — the only compensation they receive is $0.54 per mile, which matches the federal mileage reimbursement allowance.

So what it comes down to is this: commuters who are willing to pick up and drop off someone else who is going in the same general direction at the same time of day will have their own mileage expenses covered, based on the federal reimbursement rate. For a 20-mile commute for the rider, not the driver, Waze would reimburse the driver $10.80 (20 x $0.54).

Rider charges differ from driver payouts. In a recent test ride from San Francisco to Oakland, California, a Wall Street Journal reporter secured a Waze Rider trip. The driver was paid $6.30 for an almost 12-mile ride. The WSJ rider estimated the same ride would have cost $23-30 with Uber or Lyft during rush hour.

So Waze Rider drivers won’t get rich but they’ll have some of their vehicle expenses covered. Riders may pay less than with traditional rideshare companies.  Time will tell if this “casual” ridesharing service that’s not really a business will be a reliable mobility solution for people who don’t want to drive themselves to work.

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