Waze unveils carpool app where riders chip in for gas
San Francisco — Uber and Lyft talk a big game about transforming the roads. And while both companies have succeeded in getting people used to the idea of hiring an on-demand chauffeur and sharing that ride with strangers, neither have cracked the code for traditional carpooling.
So Waze, the Alphabet-owned mapping and navigation app, is giving it a shot.
This week Waze launched a carpooling app across California that lets drivers offer rides to people traveling on a similar route. Passengers who wish to carpool with a driver will be able to download a separate app called Waze Carpool and request a ride.
Unlike Uber and Lyft, which take a commission from each ride, Waze Carpool operates more like an old-school carpool, where riders chip in only to cover the cost of gas.
Riders will pay the IRS’ mileage reimbursement rate of 54 cents per mile, all of which will go to the driver, said Josh Fried, Waze’s head of carpool.
The noncommercial nature of the rides means that drivers will not have to carry commercial car insurance, nor will they have to undergo background checks.
“In terms of vetting drivers, they’re not our employees or independent contractors,” Fried said. “They’re regular, everyday drivers.”
Still, there will be safety features familiar to anyone who has used Uber or Lyft. Drivers and passengers will be able to upload a photo of themselves to the app.
There’s a five-star rating system, rider and driver endorsements, and the ability to communicate within the app so that no one has to reveal a phone number. Users will also be able to link to their Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
Unlike ride-hailing firms, which make money by collecting fares from passengers, Waze makes money from displaying advertisements in the app.
The company currently shows advertisements to drivers when they are stopped at a light for a period of time, or when they pass certain locations.
“But with carpooling, they have the potential to show ads to more people, they can advertise to passengers throughout the entire ride and to the driver at appropriate times,” said Rebecca Lindland, an executive analyst at Kelley Blue Book.