The Waze Carpool service is now officially open to everyone in the 9 regional counties in and surrounding the Bay Area, and also throughout much of Northern California. An earlier pilot program with a more limited range is now over. Waze is reportedly now available all the way from Sacramento to Monterey (in addition to the Bay Area).
The Waze Carpool service also nabbed 3 new partner organizations — the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), and Kaiser Permanente. The idea is to provide easy carpooling options to those living in areas where public transit routes either don’t reach or are irregular.
As some background on the service for those not familiar with it, the Waze Carpool service isn’t intended so much as a competitor to on-demand ride services such as Uber and Lyft, but rather as a true ridesharing service. In other words, if you’re headed along a commonly used commuter route, then you can turn on the app and pick up a rider who’s headed to the same area — and thus reduce your commute costs.
The idea isn’t to use faux taxi drivers evaluated for their driving skills and whose vehicles are actually inspected — Uber & Lyft drivers who are then out roaming the streets to make some extra cash. No, the idea is to stimulate genuine ridesharing via a low cost to riders using the Waze Rider app (just the average federal mileage rate) and a slight bonus to the drivers (using the Waze app). In total, the drivers aren’t really expected to “make” much money since the cash is just supposed to help cover the cost of gas, maintenance, etc.
This is real, old-school carpooling — just with the convenience of a smartphone/app.
To make a point on the potential advantages of such a service here, there are possible emissions reductions, traffic might be reduced, and parking congestion might be reduced with this model. Whether these potential gains will be achieved or not is hard to tell at this point, but the motives behind the service make a lot of sense.