Google Launching Actual Ride-Sharing Pilot To Compete With Uber, Lyft

Image courtesy of JayRaz

When Uber was new, it may have claimed to be a ride-sharing service, but these days it’s a high-tech, glorified, unlicensed taxi app. So Google’s planning to start competing against it in San Francisco, with… an actual ride-sharing service.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, Google’s going to use Waze, which it acquired in 2013, to match commuters with carpools headed their way.

The Waze pilot program charges riders a maximum of $0.54 per mile (the current IRS mileage reimbursement rate, so a pretty common rate to see mileage reimbursement set to) to be matched to drivers headed their way.

That’s lower than Uber’s rate, which is an incentive for passengers to try it. And for now at least, Google’s not taking a slice of the money — which may be incentive for drivers to pick up as many folks as they can cram into their cars.

That said, it’s still a very limited pilot. While any Waze user in San Francisco can sign up to be a driver, riders for now have to be one of roughly 25,000 area employees of several pre-selected large businesses including Google, Walmart, and Adobe among others. Riders are also limited to two rides per day: carpools into and out of the office.

Your standard “person familiar with the situation” told the Wall Street Journal that Google’s future plans would let anyone using the Waze app sign up to be a passenger or a driver, Uber-style, and that Google is likely to take a slice of fares in the future — tlhough what percentage, exactly, still hasn’t been determined.

Google, like Uber, is also not planning to consider its drivers to be employees — meaning it has it’s work cut out to avoid the same kind of driver lawsuits that have been a high-profile thorn in Uber’s side. One way Google is making sure not to treat drivers like employees? Not subjecting them to background checks, instead relying only on user reviews to “weed out problems.”

Rumors have been swirling since early 2015 that Google was planning to enter the ride-sharing space, so in one sense, the company took its sweet time. Meanwhile, Waze has been integrated into the Lyft app since January, meaning in one sense, Google’s just gone into competition with itself.

Google Takes on Uber With New Ride-Share Service [Wall Street Journal]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.