DENVER — This week, Waze announced a new offering: Waze Carpool, a service that was tested in Colorado before launching nationally on Wednesday.
Waze Carpool is an app that allows riders to connect with one another and travel together to and from work.
“The usage of carpool has declined over the last several decades,” Kate Balingit, head of global strategy for Waze Carpool, told BizWest. “We’re looking to bring carpooling into the 21st century.
Balingit sad Waze, which is owned by Google, first got interested in this idea after a decade of running its original map, which provides a crowdsourced map to drivers including things such as accidents, traffic jams, roadside obstacles and other information.
“We’ve been working together on outsmart traffic as a community, but have been evolving that mission as we’ve se
en how bad congestion is getting in major metro areas. We want to be part of the solution in getting cars off the road. That was the genesis of Waze Carpool,” Balingit said.
It works with a two-app system: one for drivers, which can be done through the main Waze app, and one for riders, Waze Carpool. The apps work together to curate a list of potential drivers and riders based on similar routes, shared Facebook friends and how many rides have been done. They’re then showed of potential people to ride with based on an algorithm and machine learning.
Drivers can opt in to driving other people. Unlike traditional rideshare apps, however, Waze Carpool isn’t meant to serve as a revenue stream. It’s meant more to provide some gas money to drivers going slightly out of their way to pick up other riders. Drivers can make up to 54 cents per mile, capped at $15, and can do two drives per day.
Riders, similarly, will likely pay less than what they would pay if they chose to take a Lyft or Uber to work. They can pay up to 54 cents per mile.
Balingit said Waze Carpool isn’t meant to replace current options such as public transportation, but rather to improve carpooling and offer another alternative to every person driving their own vehicles.
Waze Carpool is now available to everyone across the country, but the company first started testing a few years ago in the Bay Area and then throughout California a year ago. A month ago, Colorado was one of 13 test markets for the beta of the app. Now, nearly 60,000 employees in the Denver area are testing the app for free, thanks to a partnership with the Denver Regional Council of Governments, or DRCOG, its Go-tober program and participating employers. More than 50 companies in the region are now encouraging their employees to carpool by using the app.
Balingit said Colorado and the Front Range were selected to test the app because drivers have a different culture and habits that drivers in say, San Diego or Orange County. She added that DRCOG has been an incredible partner.
When you looking at how many people are moving to Colorado, I think DRCOG is being smart,” she said. “Congestion is getting built up in the area, and they are providing a robust network of solutions.”
Looking ahead, Waze plans to continue looking at the data it’s collecting and improve its app, as well as add more partnerships to incentivize employees to carpool to work.
“It’s frictionless — a few taps and you’re ready to go,” Balingit said. “We’re looking to make a big impact. Colorado has been great in embracing the importance of reducing emissions and providing a community vibe there. Waze is anchored on local community culture, so we hope this becomes a great solution there.”