After expanding to the Bay Area in a pilot last September, Waze Carpool is now officially open to all in the nine counties that make up the region, and also in Northern California from Sacramento to Monterey, the company announced. This marks the proper launch for the Google-owned collaborative ride-sharing tool, which is not so much a competitor for Google as it is a community-focused effort on actually sharing rides to and from work with people who are driving your way already.
Waze Carpool also has three new partners in its efforts to help address Bay Area traffic congestion, including the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and Kaiser Permanente, all of whom will now contribute to carpool routes that serve areas that include San Francisco hospital campuses where bus and other transit routes don’t normally reach.
UCSF and Kaiser Permanente are hoping that teaming up with Waze for its carpooling services will help it address the issue of traffic and parking shortages at its Mission Bay, Geary and Parnassus sites, according to the company, and Waze Carpool will now be offered as a part of their existing transportation demand management programs, which seek to drive down the number of single-person cars choking up roadways and available parking.
As it has been since its pilot debut in 2016, Waze Carpool is not seeking to attract professional drivers. Instead, it’s looking to sign up drivers via its Waze app, and riders via the Waze Rider app, and it provides a minor payout from riders to drivers — but not more than the current average federal mileage rate. The whole payment structure is designed to help drivers recoup the cost of gas, and perhaps a bit of maintenance, but not much more than that.
Waze doesn’t vet drivers, as a result, and the intent is literally just to facilitate carpooling through a technical solution, since traditional carpooling often fails because of a lack of sustained interest or too much variety in destinations among small groups of friends and coworkers.
New riders get two free rides when they sign up for Waze, and thanks to the partnership, anyone who registers with a UCSF or Kaiser Permanente work email address will also get an additional free ride.