Google is planning to launch a car pooling service in Israel by leveraging the tech behind Israeli navigation app Waze it bought in 2013 for about $1 billion, reports Reuters. Google has hence confirmed speculations of entering into the transportation business, which have been going around for some time.
The service will be used in conjunction with another app called RideWith, through which passengers who are going from their home to their workplaces would be able to see similar people going on the route through the satellite enabled real time data offered by Waze.
The passenger will pay the driver a nominal fare for the trip, as determined by the distance, and the service is built in such a way that drivers will not be able to transform it into a business, but will only receive compensation for the time and the gas they use to provide transportation for an additional passenger in their car. In addition to it, the number of trips per driver is limited to just two per day for commuting from home to workplace and the return trip.
Recently, Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry inaugurated a similar application called Gov.PickUp for rides shared by government employees. Google’s service though, will offer a uniform platform based on the Waze app, enabling employees of a given company to share rides among themselves. Payment for the ride is optional and it will be possible to use for free.
Thus, workplaces will be able to organize carpools for their employees, helping both the environmental and financial cause.
However, Google will also propose a recommended price and the maximum price according to the distance of the shared ride. The recommended price will depend on the cost of maintaining an automobile as listed by the Heshev company.
In 2014, the overall cost was about 2.10 shekels (56 cents) per kilometer. Based on that, the price recommended by Google for a ride from Tel Aviv to Herzliya will be 13 shekels ($3.46). Transfer of the money from the passenger to the driver will be done within the application itself, with Google expected to take a fee of 15 percent from ride’s price.
The pilot version of the service will be limited to three cities of Israel – Tel Aviv, Ra’anana and Herzliya, with the intention of enabling workers who live in Tel Aviv and work in the high-tech areas of Ra’anana and Herzliya to get together in the morning on their way to work and again in the evening on their way home. In addition, at the request of Senior Citizen Affairs Minister Gila Gamliel, who is responsible for the Digital Israel Project, the service will also be available to students at Tel Aviv University
Based on the response and success of the pilot mode in Israel; the concept will be introduced in other cities as well as in other parts of the world.
We’re conducting a small, private beta test in the greater Tel Aviv area for a carpool concept, but we have nothing further to announce at this time,
Waze told Reuters while announcing the ride sharing service. Waze is already being used extensively in Tel Aviv and sources close to Waze estimate that about 200,000 employees in Israel carpool to work and most of them are concentrated in the area of Gush Dan.
On being asked about the possible clash with other taxi services such as Uber X and Lyft, Waze showed a rare support for Uber and Lyft, saying,
We think Uber X and Lyft are services that work well. We ourselves use them all the time.
Though the ‘Ride With-Waze’ model is different from these services, it is still expected to compete with them. However taxi services such as Uber X, Lyft and Get Taxi in Israel are encountering significant regulatory barriers of their own, making it easier for the Google-Waze service to operate.