The use of carpools is likely to completely eliminate traffic jams in the world without any investment in infrastructure, Waze cofounder and Google VP Noam Bardin said yesterday. Bardin is still running Waze, after it was acquired by Google in 2013 for $1 billion. Waze launched a carpool service several months ago that enables travelers to search for drivers going to the same destination, and to offer to join them for a fee. The company launched a new supplementary feature today that will enable drivers to contact potential passengers. The service is available at this stage only in Israel and San Francisco, but will likely expand in the future.
Bardin, who has been living in the US in recent years, yesterday held a press conference in Google's Tel Aviv offices. He explained that the growing use of the carpool would reduce the number of cars on the road in the rush hour and contribute to the environment. As of now, the service is free. In the future, however, Waze hopes to charge a 15% commission on all deals through the app.
Waze's service is liable to lead to regulatory problems, and the company is aware of it. In this context, Bardin stressed that the service enables every driver to make up to two trips a day. He said that passengers do not pay for the trips; the "share the cost of the gasoline." Another question requiring clarification involves insurance coverage. Two Israeli insurance companies have already announced that they will support Waze's service, but the other companies are likely to take a different stance if one of the "hitchhikers" is injured in an accident.
Waze yesterday disclosed revised figures for its activity. The company provides services to 80 million active users a month, including 2.7 million in Israel. Waze has begun cooperation with the Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance service. When a Waze user reports an accident, the information is transmitted directly to MDA's ambulance service centers around Israel, and figures show that the new feature is enabling rescue teams to save 10-15% of the time it takes to reach the accident theater.
Waze made the headlines two weeks ago when it erroneously "blocked" Highway 1 and proposed that drivers use Highway 443, even though Highway One was open. This created traffic jams and aroused criticism. Referring to the incident, Bardin said that most of the decisions made by the app were automatic, but that company employees made revisions in certain cases. He said that human error was responsible for blocking the road, and had been corrected within minutes.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on March 2, 2017
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