Waze Carpool Expands to Washington State

The app gets some new features as well.

In addition to helping people navigate around traffic jams, Waze wants to coordinate shared rides. The Alphabet unit launched Waze Carpool in 2017, but so far the service has only been available in California, Texas, and Israel. Now it’s expanding to Washington state.

Waze Carpool connects people in need of a ride with drivers willing to carry passengers. It may seem like Waze’s answer to Uber and Lyft, but there is one crucial difference. Waze doesn’t make any money off the rides; it just charges riders what the app calculates is fair to cover gas.

The expansion to Washington comes after a recent app update that added new features to the service. Users can now select who they will ride with based on star ratings, profile information, and connections to friends or workplaces. Riders can also filter by gender or choose to ride with coworkers only.

By making carpooling easier, Waze could help cut down on traffic. While both Uber and Lyft offer services that place multiple riders in one vehicle, they haven’t proven especially popular with riders or drivers. When booking an Uber or Lyft ride, it’s always tempting to get a car to oneself, but that doesn’t reduce traffic.

Services that actively promote carpooling, including Waze Carpool and Nissan-backed Hytch Rewards, could reduce the number of cars on the road and, in turn, cut down on traffic. But sustaining these services may be challenging. Drivers don’t make any money off Waze Carpool, and riders have to be willing to share a car with other people.