Google just fired a rather loud shot across the bow of both Uber and Lyft. With the release of Waze Rider, the Google-owned Waze has its eye on a significant portion of ride-hail passengers: Those catching rides to and from work. The app coordinates carpools, and according to the Chronicle allows individuals to request free rides or agree to pay the IRS recommended per-mile reimbursement rate of 54 cents — a rate that would significantly undercut both Uber and Lyft.
Waze Rider is at present only available in the Bay Area, but will likely expand to other cities around the country should the initial launch be considered successful. Although the app is in a "pilot" phase right now, supposedly only available to pre-approved employees of specific companies, this reporter was able to download it via Apple's app store and create a full account with the option to start getting rides today. Image using this to get a ride to the airport — sure, you'd end up in long-term parking instead of right at the terminal, but your ride would be around $7.00. In other words, even less than BART.
At present, Waze Rider does not charge a fee or take a percentage of the transaction. That could of course change in the future.
Susan Shaheen, who is the co-director of UC Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center, told the Chronicle that Waze's 700,000 Bay Area users (for its mapping app) means Waze Rider could succeed where other carpooling apps have failed.
“Critical mass is a big reason carpooling hasn’t been able to be as successful as it could be,” Shaheen explained. “It’s exciting to see how we can use technology in a socially and environmentally beneficial way.”
Below, the cheeky promo video.