Google’s Waze is growing its Carpool offering, expanding the ride-sharing service to all of California after successful trials in San Francisco, Sacramento and Monterey. The service expansion also comes after Waze has been running carpooling services in Israel, where it originally debuted the offering back in 2015. Carpool will open to all California residents beginning Tuesday, June 6.
Waze still exists primarily as a mapping and navigation app that focuses on community engagement, asking users to report things like road hazards and bad weather and then pooling that data and sharing it with other users, and with parent company Google’s own Maps. But Carpool takes that community aspect of the app a bit further, letting drivers actually offer up rides to people who happen to be heading in their direction.
It works by connecting drivers using the regular Waze app with riders using the Waze Carpool app, both of which are available on either Android or iOS. Drivers can opt in to Waze Carpool easily via the bottom right tab of their navigation app, provided they’re 21 years of age. Rides are capped at two per day, since Waze Carpool isn’t aiming to replace professional ride hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, and drivers make no more than $0.54 per mile. That price is determined by the federal standard mileage rate, and is only intended to help drivers share the cost of gas with their riders, rather than enabling them to turn driving into a profession or significant money-making opportunity.
Waze’s whole philosophy around Carpool is that it can offer a method to make actual carpooling more achievable. Office carpools organized in person were a nice idea when they first started gaining ground during the Second World War, but interest dropped off a lot before the Internet came around and made it easier to connect people going the same way.
Waze thinks its network dynamics make it a good candidate to bring people together for quick and easy carpooling, and it does seem logical that a network which has succeeded primarily because users have demonstrated a desire to help each other on the road would lend itself to that.
Earlier this year, Waze’s Noam Bardin signaled that the company hoped to broaden Carpool’s availability to more U.S. cities this year, and this statewide launch certainly accomplishes that. The company also still plans to bring the service to Brazil sometime in 2017, as Bardin noted back in February.