Yesterday, Google parent company Alphabet announced an experimental carpooling service in the Bay Area. The service is built on top of the Alphabet-owned navigation app Waze. As described in the promotional video below, the new Waze service will allow users to automatically be matched up with carpool drivers, which means less hassle for everyone involved in carpooling.
Waze's new carpooling service.
As of now, the pilot service is only available to employees at a handful of tech firms within the Bay Area (1). However, coming from Alphabet itself, it serves as a significant threat for competitors Uber and Lyft. Moreover, considering Alphabet's significant progress with self-driving vehicles, a foothold in the ride-sharing market might translate into a fully-autonomous transport system (2).
Do you think the growth of the ride-sharing market is healthy for the economy? While it may let drivers make money, the work is part-time and comes at the cost of more traditional taxi services. Additionally, as more and more drivers start working for ride-sharing businesses, should companies like Uber, Lyft, and now Waze be responsible for their "employees" and their actions? Waze for instance is adopting an extremely low pricing model that skirts much of existing regulation (2). How should the government approach regulating this new market? Lastly, who do you think will win out?
(1) Vanity Fair