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Waze wades into the ride-sharing market in Illinois

Waze, a GPS service, recently brought its carpooling app to Illinois. | Courtesy of Waze

A ride-sharing app that lets users pick the riders they split a car with has launched in Illinois.

The popular GPS app Waze announced June 25 that Waze Carpool would begin taking rides in Illinois and Nevada. The service is currently available in six states: Illinois, California, Texas, Washington, Nevada, Massachusetts, and in Israel.

Waze’s app is unique in that, unlike carpooling offered by companies such as Uber and Lyft, users choose the people they ride with instead of leaving it up to an algorithm. Users can sort other riders by gender or by rating, or they can choose to only ride with co-workers.

Upon downloading and opening the app for the first time, users plug in their home and work addresses, as well as their work schedule, so that Waze can sift through and find the drivers that best match a user’s commute — pickup and drop-off locations, number of riders, miles traveled and gas price all factor in.

Riders pay the driver at most 54 cents per mile — no more than $15 maximum for a ride — and Waze doesn’t take a cut. Riders can schedule a carpool up to five days in advance.

A Waze spokesperson said, “The heart of the traffic and congestion problem right now is too many cars on the road, so we’re helping to alleviate the issue by taking unnecessary cars off the road.”

The Google-owned company said they don’t consider their Waze Carpool drivers to use their app as a primary way to earn income like some Uber or Lyft drivers might.

“This is a way for people headed in the same direction to share gas and car costs, while helping to save the environment and make a new friend in their community,” the Waze spokesperson said.

In Chicago, Uber, Lyft and Via all offer their own versions of carpooling services, where riders are paired up based on traveling in the same general direction.