Smartphone users who need a ride now have options to choose from, but nearly all of them are raising concerns, from existing taxis, to insurance companies, to government regulators. Google just launched their own ride sharing service which gets around many of those hurdles. The only limitation is that to test the service you have to live in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Google's new service uses their Waze navigation app, or a separate app called RideWith in order to match commuters together for a carpool service. To avoid the various legal regulatory issues that the Ubers and Lyfts of the world must deal with, there are restrictions placed on the drivers. They can only pick up riders who are commuting on the same path the driver is already taking to work and home and they are limited to picking up riders only two times per day, once going to work, and once coming back.
In addition, while the riders do pay the driver for the trip, they are only allowed to pay for gas and wear and tear, and what those costs total is determined by the app, so the driver can cover his costs but does not make any profit on the exchange. Google, of course, gets their cut as well.
Google says they are not looking to compete with Uber and this limited test run certainly is focused on a very different market. Carpooling, like public transportation, is much more popular overseas than in the US, so it makes sense for a test like this to start elsewhere. It would be interesting to see if a service like this might appeal to American commuters who don't currently carpool. If it got a number of cars off the roads maybe RideWith can make the trip to work easier for everybody.
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