Google Inc. has opened Waze Rider, its formerly experimental carpooling service, to the San Francisco Bay Area.
The service, first rumored to be coming in August, works differently from alternatives offered by the likes of Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. Riders pay the Waze carpool driver 54 cents per mile, a number based on the cost per mile presumed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to cover the cost of the travel undertaken without any profit on top.
According to The Wall Street Journal, any attempts to game the system are controlled by Google limiting drivers and riders to only two rides a day, to and from work. That’s to make sure drivers are not attempting to make a living on the app and to avoid any regulatory scrutiny, such as Uber has had when it comes to licensing and drivers requiring a background check, or even having to provide photo ID.
Interestingly, Google is subsidizing the service as a launch promotion, with a trip undertaken by a Journal writer only costing $3, with Google paying the remaining $3.30 on what should have been a $6.30 trip. By comparison, a trip with Uber or Lyft is said to be in the vicinity of $23 to $30.
Without doubt, the biggest selling point of Waze Rider is cost. But the service also promises a “non-stop ride with a driver along your route–no detours,” versus competing services Uber Pool and Lyft Line, which look for several people going in the same direction to keep costs down.
That said, the attempts to get around regulations by keeping the service as a payment of the actual cost versus making a profit may still result in legal scrutiny, or as Macquarie Group analyst Ben Schachter said, “I don’t think they’ve had any significant experience in a lot of the issues that will surely arise around starting a ride-sharing business.”
Image credit: Waze/ Google