Google To Expand Waze Carpooling Service in San Francisco

Google is preparing to expand a San Francisco carpooling program in a move that could that could set up a showdown with its one-time ally, the popular ride-hailing service Uber.

The plans will build upon a test service that Google's navigation app Waze launched three months ago in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The program allows anyone using the Waze app to offer a ride to a limited pool of people trying to get to work or home.

Now, only people working at six companies, including Google, Wal-Mart Stores and Adobe Systems, can request rides. The tests have worked well enough to encourage Waze to move into the next phase and allow anyone in the Bay Area with its app to request a ride by the end of this year, spokeswoman Julie Mossler said.

Inviting more people to hitch rides could undercut Uber, which allows people to request drivers who provide a taxi service using their own cars.

Unlike Uber, Waze isn't trying to make money for itself or the drivers offering to share a ride.

Instead, Waze sets a variable fee of up to 54 cents per mile to reimburse the drivers for gasoline and maintenance on their vehicles. The riders pay that fee.

Waze also limits trips to a rider's work or home, with a maximum of two trips per day. Although riders can request a ride at any time, Waze is focusing the service on providing trips during peak commute times in the mornings and evenings. Only one rider is allowed per vehicle.

In contrast, Uber touts its around-the-clock service as a way for its drivers to make a decent living or supplement their incomes. Uber also hopes to eventually turn a profit itself to justify its financial backers' belief that the privately held company is worth more than $60 billion.

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