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Transportation

Can Waze Convince Commuters to Carpool Again?

Google’s wayfinding company wants to help drivers and riders find each other on its navigation app—and ease traffic congestion along the way.
Back in the late 1970s, 20 percent of American commuters carpooled. Now it's more like 7 percent.
Back in the late 1970s, 20 percent of American commuters carpooled. Now it's more like 7 percent.Ben Margot/AP

They came to our WeWork. And they brought us tacos.

That’s how Waze Carpool convinced just over a hundred mostly young professionals at my shared workplace in Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown to download their new ride-sharing app. Bearing free lunches and promotional goodies, teams from the Google-owned company have been making the rounds at workplaces and campuses around the country to nudge young people into sharing rides on the way to work. The wayfinding app’s carpooling spinoff service has been live nationwide since last October, but convincing Americans to buddy up on their commute has been something of a challenge.