Most people are familiar with the Google project Waze as a traffic and navigation app, but few people are familiar with Waze CarPool. The popular Waze app offers crowdsourced real time information about traffic, speed traps, and all things relevant to drivers. Over the past two years Waze has been slowly rolling out a carpooling feature in U.S. cities while they also launched in Israel and Brazil. Waze CarPool is now extending services to the entire United States.
Focused on carpooling to work, the app doesn’t make it easy to search for rides outside of a regular route. When you create an account you enter your home and work addresses as well as you typical schedule. And the driver app is not integrated into the rider app, making it less like typical carpooling and more like peer-to-peer taxi services where some people are always driving and others always riding. I’m not sure why they wouldn’t give riders the option to also be drivers. After all, Waze is presumably marketing to people currently driving to work who want to start carpooling.
I think starting with work carpooling as a marketing approach in the United States makes sense. But I’d really like to see Waze expand to carpooling for any purpose. I think the U.S. could really benefit from real ridesharing. But I don’t think it’s an easy cultural shift to make. Even the very successful BlaBlaCar ridesharing company, which is expanding around the world, has opted to avoid the United States entirely.