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Waze carpooling service now available to all users in San Francisco area

Google's Waze Rider service, which lets people carpool to and from work with drivers using the Waze app, has come out of its pilot program and is now widely available in the San Francisco area. It's been rolling out to users over the last several weeks, the company confirmed to The Wall Street Journal today. Waze Rider is different from ride hailing services like Uber and Lyft in that it's meant to pair two people headed in the same direction. Drivers are only reimbursed for the mileage driven during their carpooled rides; they're not really making much profit — if any at all. Riders are charged a maximum rate of 54 cents per mile. Both drivers and riders are limited to two rides each day, which again underlines the intended purpose of this app.

By taking this approach, Google doesn't need to undergo the same scrutiny as Uber and Lyft. Drivers aren't required to pass any sort of background check or even provide a photo ID, according to the Journal. Again, these are just regular people using the Waze navigation app who've offered to give people a ride during their commute. All it takes to become a driver is providing Waze with your general schedule, plus your home and work addresses.

Uber and Lyft offer similar options with their respective Line and Pool services, but Waze Rider is being pitched as a lower cost option than its rivals. But the Journal found its own first test ride to be less than perfect; the app didn't display the driver's location ahead of pickup, and the driver couldn't even use Waze's own navigation interface during the ride. Presumably those bugs will be ironed out over time. Google has said it will expand Waze Rider to other cities if it proves successful in the Bay Area.