Google expands paid carpooling across California

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is expanding its paid carpool service throughout California, building on an effort to get more traffic-weary drivers to share their rides to work — and to collect data that could be useful for future transportation services.

The Wednesday move by Google’s Waze unit, best known for its navigation and traffic monitoring app, extends the year-old carpooling service outside its initial markets of northern California and Israel. Waze will now be pairing up drivers and passengers across a wider expanse that includes heavily congested highways in Los Angeles and other parts of southern California.

HOW IT WORKS

Waze connects drivers and riders with similar commutes based on their home and work addresses. Riders request carpool rides in advance, but aren’t guaranteed matches. Drivers can only pick up one rider; they also get to review the profiles of potential riders in advance and to select the ones they prefer. Riders can only request two rides a day.

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The service is primarily focused on rush-hour commutes, when the odds of successfully matching drivers and riders are highest. Waze said tens of thousands of drivers and passengers have registered for carpooling in northern California. It won’t begin booking carpooling requests outside northern California until June 6 to give interested drivers and riders a chance to sign up for the program.

Since signing up for Waze’s carpooling service in February, Lesley Watson says she gets paid $3.50 to $5.50 every time she gives someone a ride on her morning commute from her home in Oakland to her job at an advertising agency in San Francisco. Sometimes, she also picks up a passenger on her evening commute home, although she usually drives solo on her return trip.

“It has helped me offset my commute costs for gas, tolls and parking,” Watson, 28, says. It also has given her a chance to make new…

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