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Waze Expands Carpooling Program as Lyft Puts Its Own on Hold

The Alphabet company will help users throughout the San Francisco Bay Area find rides to and from work.

Two big companies were testing out carpooling apps. One of them, Lyft, has put its carpooling test on hold due to a lack of interest. The other, from Alphabet’s Waze, is expanding.

The original pilot, only available to employees of companies who signed up for the program since May, will now be available to Waze users throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

The company is setting up the project in a markedly different way from conventional ride sharing. Drivers will make 54 cents a mile — enough to reimburse them for gas, basically — and the program will still be geared specifically at commuters instead of short rides around town.

Waze’s motivation behind the project is to try to reduce the number of cars on the road by increasing the number of people in each car. Denser transportation means more efficient transportation, and that could be a step toward achieving ambitious greenhouse gas reduction goals both in California and across the U.S.

The movement toward more efficient driving has been enshrined in Waze since before it began testing the carpooling concept. The app has long crowdsourced reports about traffic accidents and other incidents, helping put together a real-time picture of which routes will get any given driver to their destination quickest.

The concept also edges into the territory of automated driving, since companies like Ford, Lyft and Uber are all racing to put self-driving cars on the street that users can hail with technology and potentially share with others.

Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.