Google Expands Waze Ride-Sharing Test To San Francisco

Image courtesy of JayRaz

What’s that sound? It’s Google knocking on Uber and Lyft’s doors to tell them it’s come out to play: the technology giant is taking one step further into providing transportation by expanding its pilot ride-sharing program to San Francisco.

Anyone in San Francisco with a smartphone — surely, there must be a few people — can now download the Waze Rider app and request carpooled rides to and from work, The Wall Street Journal reports. Drivers on the platform use Google’s Waze navigation app.

Last May Google launched a test of the service for workers at some area employers, but Waze Rider has been slowly rolling out to San Francisco users for several weeks, Google confirmed to the WSJ.

As for how well the service works, a WSJ reporter went on a Waze Rider trip this week and said there were a few hiccups, like the app’s failure to show the rider where the driver’s car was before it arrived, and the driver had trouble using Waze’s navigation service. All told, he gave it a thumbs up.

There are some limits on the program, as Google’s goal is to make the service simply a way to connect drivers and riders headed in the same direction: drivers and riders have a two-trip daily limit as the service is intended for carpooling to and from work.

It’s also too cheap right now for drivers to make a living from the app. For example, on the reporter’s test ride, the driver — who doesn’t work for Lyft or Uber because she has a full-time job, she says — made $6.30 for the 20-minute ride, and the rider paid a special discounted price of $3.

She said she signed up to be a driver because it was “hassle-free,” and that she’ll likely do it again as an easy way to earn a few extra bucks on her commute.

“I think it’ll catch on,” she told the WSJ. “It’s cheap and it’s easy.”

Google Quietly Expands Ride-Sharing Service [The Wall Street Journal]