Better Than Uber and Lyft? Testing the New Waze Carpool App

Waze is cheap, but how do you feel about riding in a car with an unvetted stranger?

After years of rerouting you to side streets, Waze can now can get you into the carpool lane. The Google-owned navigation app just rolled out Waze Carpool to all 50 states. But it’s not a side hustle for drivers—just a resource for everyday commuters like me who are looking to split the cost of gas to and from work.

Recently, I tested the new app to see how it compares to Lyft and Uber. First, I downloaded the Waze Carpool app. Then I plugged in my home and work addresses and commute time to find nearby drivers headed in the same direction. Riders pay drivers (no more than 54 cents per mile) via the app and can schedule rides up to a week in advance. Drivers can turn on the service in the original Waze app, and all users are limited to two trips a day.

One of the first things I noticed: Waze was significantly cheaper than ride-sharing in other apps like Uber Pool and Lyft Line. A shared ride on Lyft to my Nashville office is $4.15, and Uber Pool costs $3.50. A Waze Carpool ride is $1.70. (Waze says it’s not trying to compete with companies like Uber and Lyft—their focus is reducing the number of cars on the road. But they do make money from the ads they sell you.

Now for the downsides. Unlike other ride-sharing services, Waze doesn’t vet drivers. So I had to choose who I wanted to ride with based on profiles, ratings, and mutual friends, with an option to filter by gender or employer. Of the few available drivers with similar work commutes, I was willing to request rides from two—a man with whom I shared a mutual Facebook friend, and a woman (her gender made me feel more comfortable.) My other options? A guy snuggling a cat, someone named “Goose,” and a man who uploaded a picture of a skull instead of a headshot. I passed on all three. None of my options had ratings yet, so I had to rely on photos, mutual Facebook friends, and gut instincts.

After about 20 minutes,
I summoned the courage to test out Waze Carpool. And then I waited. And waited.

After about 20 minutes, I summoned the courage to test out Waze Carpool. And then I waited. And waited.Three times I tried to hitch a ride, and three times I was declined. Maybe it’s because the service is new to my city, or maybe I give off a creepy vibe. For now, I’ll choose to believe the former and hope finding a driver will get easier as more people participate.

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