Uber may already be one of the top ride-sharing services in the world, but it looks like Google is planning to do something similar to what it the former does in San Francisco. It’s been reported that Google is opening a carpooling program through its Waze app.
Back in May, Google made Waze available as a carpooling service to a select group of employers around the Bay Area as part of a test. The Waze app, which was originally intended as a means of providing driving directions, allowed these select users to connect directly with fellow commuters, so they can share a ride together going to work.
Interestingly, Google is now planning to make the service available to all Waze users in the San Francisco area this coming fall, according to the Wall Street Journal. A source told the site that the service may very well be made available elsewhere if it’s successful in the area because Google is hoping to replicate the success of Waze as a ride-sharing service in Israel last year in the U.S.
During the San Francisco testing, any Waze user in the area was able to sign up as a driver. The number of riders at the time was only limited to around 25,000 San Francisco employees from Google, Wal-Mart and Adobe, and they were only limited to taking two rides a day.
When Google expands the service to all San Francisco residents, anyone would be able to sign up either as a driver or a rider. A source says that Google isn’t collecting fees yet, but it’s currently exploring possibilities. Waze is planning to make fares incredibly low, so that users won’t be encouraged to become full-time taxi drivers. In the San francisco area, riders only paid $0.54 per mile.
Although it seems like Google is trying to compete with Uber, Waze’s carpooling service has a significant difference: the drivers are not professional and riders are mostly those who work at the same company. The idea here is that Google wants drivers and riders to connect with each other through Waze if they’re both heading to the same direction, according to The Verge.
Another difference is that Google is not planning on vetting drivers. Instead, the company will be relying heavily on user reviews to resolve any problems with drivers. This may be a problem considering that Uber has received heavy criticisms for not having enough background checks for their drivers. Perhaps Google is hoping that drivers won’t cause any issues considering that they will mostly be sharing rides with people they work with or are part of the same company.