Did you know Waze was offering carpooling through its app? I did not. I own a car, so it was not something that was on my radar. But the folks who might currently rely on it will soon find they’ll have to figure out new ways to get around.
Waze is preparing to shut down Waze Carpool, its work commute focused ride-sharing program that it launched back in 2016. The program will end in September due to a steep drop in commuters. The company shared a statement with several outlets saying that it’s exploring other ways of existing in the current commuting climate. “The proportion of errands and travel drives have surpassed commutes,” the company wrote. I’ve reached out to Waze for the complete statement and will update you when I hear back.
Waze first launched it carpooling program in the San Francisco Bay Area, but it found enough success to land in all 50 states, plus parts of Brazil and Israel. Unlike Lyft and Uber, the Waze Carpool app lets you hail a ride from a normal driver who doesn’t mind the extra passengers on their commute into the city. And like those apps, you could use the star rating system to let others know if your driver was a good steward. Waze carpooling was relatively cheaper than going solo through another ride-sharing service, allowing Waze to flex its routing capabilities through its app.
Waze considered itself “predominantly a commuting app pre-COVID,” which is why it’s looking to shift gears in its next wave of business. But while it’s true the commute has changed since the pandemic struck in mid-2020, it’s a wonder if folks won’t want access to this kind of service again shortly. Commuting numbers may have fallen in the last two years, but as more workers are mandated to return to the office, I can see this sort of utility becoming a necessary backup plan when other methods become inaccessible.