Google on Monday jumped feet first into carpooling with the launch of Waze Rider.
The free app, available to 25,000 employees at certain Bay Area companies to start, matches riders with drivers who are using nearly identical routes. Drivers are able to accept or deny the requests to carpool via the Waze app.
Riders are only permitted to seek carpools during rush hour twice a day — once to work and the other back home, according to the Waze website.
Passengers are asked to pay the Internal Revenue Service's recommended 54 cents per mile, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. In its test phase, Google won't retain any percentage of Waze Rider's transactions, but that could change.
The Waze website also says riders and drivers will split the cost of gas for the trip. Payments are decided in advance and the money is transferred between the two automatically.
Companies located near Google's offices, including, UCSF, Adobe and Walmart Global eCommerce, will test Waze Rider in its pilot phase. If successful, the app will be expanded to other cities, the Chronicle reported.
Google announced its plans via an animated promotional video Monday, which indicates that Waze Rider will help reduce Bay Area traffic congestion while helping riders conserve gas and money.
“This is kind of an extension of what we do at Waze, to build this trusted community,” Josh Fried, head of partner development for Waze’s carpooling efforts, told the newspaper.
An estimated 700,000 Bay Area residents currently use Waze for directions, and police and traffic alerts. So, according to the Chronicle, Waze Rider is poised to render a blow to Lyft — which charges $1.16 per mile in San Francisco as well as other fees — and Uber — which charges $1.15 per mile and additional fees.
“Critical mass is a big reason carpooling hasn’t been able to be as successful as it could be,” Susan Shaheen, co-director of the UC Berkeley Transportation Sustainability Research Center, told the Chronicle. “It’s exciting to see how we can use technology in a socially and environmentally beneficial way.”