Google's ride-sharing platform is expanding beyond the Bay Area

Andrew Cummings
February 22, 2017

The company reportedly had successful trial runs of the service in San Francisco and Israel.

The catch is that Waze's service isn't immediate like Uber or Lyft. Waze instead wants to persuade regular drivers using its navigation app to pick up people who are heading in the same direction. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is now planning to expand the service to other US cities and Latin America. Waze is acting purely as a connecting mechanism, too, which means it doesn't screen drivers - but it also doesn't take any of their earned income. With Waze's gradual global expansion, Google looks to go into more direct competition with companies like Uber.

A Journal reporter just tested the service and interviewed Waze head Noam Bardin.

For one, users must order their Waze rides hours in advance and there is no guarantee that a driver will accept. According to the Journal, a ride from downtown Oakland, downtown San Francisco costs a mere $4.50, where the same trip using either UberPool or Lyft Line is $10.57 and $12.40, respectively. Google has various transit and automotive investments and programs, but hasn't heavily worked in the ride sharing space outside of investing $258 million into Uber back in 2013. It's more carpool service than taxi platform. Riders pay a small fee for joining a driver's commute, but this is designed mainly to help drivers split the cost of gas, and potentially cover a bit of their vehicle's maintenance in the process. Google has looked to utilize Waymo's vast user data that provides "incredibly accurate", up-to-date maps as a way of building out its other services, said Bob O'Donnell, president of market research firm TECHnalysis Research. As Bardin told the Journal: "If we were a startup, we couldn't afford to make these sorts of long-term bets".

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